St. John’s Research Institute part of global collaborative effort to develop point-of-care diagnostic technologies.

Oct 10,2023

An interdisciplinary team led by Cornell University has received a five-year grant to launch a new center for engineering, testing and commercializing point-of-care diagnostic devices that will have international reach.  St. John’s Research Institute, based out of St. John’s Medical College Campus, Bengaluru, India, is one of the international sites that will be actively collaborating in this global collaborative effort.  The Point Of Care Technology Research Network (POCTRN) is supported by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), at the National Institutes of Health, US, to develop technologies with clinical applications. It uses a network model that enhances complementary strengths and builds multidisciplinary partnerships.

The newly established Point of Care Technologies for Nutrition, Infection, and Cancer for Global Health (PORTENT) Center led by Dr. David Erickson at Cornell Engineering and Dr. Saurabh Mehta, the Janet and Gordon Lankton Professor in the Division of Nutritional Sciences, Cornell University, USA will initially be up to a 5-year initiative.   Partnering with Cornell University in PORTENT will be a number of universities and health organizations in four continents.  New technologies in the areas of nutrition, infection, and cancer will be invited to join the center through a global solicitation annually. These will then be validated at four clinical sites: Weill Cornell Medicine in New York City; St. John’s Research Institute in India; the Escuela Superior Politécnica del Litoral in Ecuador; and the Infectious Diseases Institute in Kampala in Uganda.  This clinical and validation core will be co-led by Dr. Marshall Glesby, professor of medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases at Weill Cornell Medicine, and Dr. Julia Finkelstein, associate professor of epidemiology and nutrition in the Division of Nutritional Sciences.  McGill University and Columbia University will provide training and help build capacity for the developers as they tailor their technology and develop business plans to bring their products from lab to market.

The need for affordable point-of-care diagnostics was highlighted in a 2021 report from the Lancet Diagnostics Commission that noted that nearly half of the world’s population does not have access to testing for primary care.

PORTENT is focused on supporting the development, deployment, clinical validation, and commercialization of point-of-care diagnostic devices and technologies for nutrition, infection, and cancer for global health in resource-limited settings where access to better diagnostics can have the largest worldwide impact.

PORTENT will be funded by the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), Fogarty International Center, and the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health – components of the National Institutes of Health.

At St. John’s Research Institute (SJRI), Bengaluru, India, Dr. Tony Raj, Dean and Head, Division of Medical Informatics (SJRI) will lead this partnership and will work along with co-leads  Dr. Rebecca Kuriyan Raj, Head, Division of Nutrition, and Dr. Mary Dias, Head, Division of Infectious Diseases.  The Research Institute will facilitate in-house clinical testing and validation of point-of-care devices, collaborate with multidisciplinary teams, conduct clinical needs assessments in areas anticipated to advance the field of point-of-care testing, and disseminate this information to the technology development community. SJRI will also invite new technologies by developers in India to join the center. In the first year for example, Bigtec Labs, the wholly owned R&D subsidiary of MolBio Diagnostics Pvt. Ltd will be validating their Malaria POC test in partnership with PORTENT.

PORTENT is funded by NIBIB grant # U54EB034654.


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