Mami Taniuchi, PhD, Awarded $2.5 Million to Explore Environmental Surveillance in Tracking Infectious Diseases in Dhaka, Bangladesh

September 12, 2023 by

Mami Taniuchi

Mami Taniuchi, PhD

Mami Taniuchi, PhD, an associate professor in the Department of Medicine Infectious Diseases Division, was awarded a $2.5 million grant from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation to explore the public health impact of environmental surveillance in tracking multiple vaccine-preventable infectious diseases in Dhaka, Bangladesh.

Throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, inequities in access to diagnostic testing for SARS-CoV-2 have limited the accuracy of clinical case surveillance for characterizing population-level disease burden and dynamics. These data are critical for appropriately deploying resources and targeting interventions to areas where the disease burden is highest or increasing. Limitations to case data are amplified in low-resource settings where disease burden is often inversely associated with testing access, and therefore, passively reported clinical testing data are biased.

Since March 2020, to supplement traditional clinical surveillance in Dhaka, Bangladesh, Dr. Taniuchi and her team have collaborated with icddrb, Imperial College London, Institute of Epidemiology Disease Control and Research (IEDCR), and other public stakeholders in Bangladesh to implement active sewage surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 to effectively estimate population-level burden without bias in testing-seeking behavior and access (Lancet Microbe. 2023 Jun;4(6):e442-e451). Sewage surveillance data was reported weekly to the national COVID-19 task force for situational awareness via a publicly available interactive dashboard developed by UVA BME Capstone students (; BMJ Glob Health. 2023 Aug;8(8):e012921).

Building on success with sewage surveillance for COVID-19 during the pandemic, the researchers are pivoting their efforts to track multiple vaccine-preventable infectious diseases such as influenza, RSV, measles, cholera, and SARS-CoV-2 through the sewage in Dhaka. Little is known if the detection of other diseases in sewage is associated with the clinical burden of the diseases in the catchment community.

In this new grant, Dr. Taniuchi’s team will again collaborate with Rashidul Haque, MBBS, PhD, at icddrb; Isobel Blake, PhD, at Imperial College London; Tahmina Shirin, MBBS, PhD, and Mahbubur Rahman, PhD, at IEDCR, and other Bangladeshi public health stakeholders. Together the team will explore the public health impact of supplementary environmental surveillance to track the burden of infectious diseases in a low resourced setting.

Mami Taniuchi team in Bangladesh

Research team in Bangladesh. (contributed photo)

Filed Under: Faculty, Research