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Press Release – November 9, 2021

Ceres Nanosciences Establishes Nine Wastewater-based COVID-19 Surveillance Centers of Excellence Under NIH RADx Initiative

MANASSAS, Virginia – November 9, 2021 – Ceres Nanosciences (Ceres), a privately held company that makes innovative products to improve life science research and diagnostic testing, is announcing the establishment of nine new wastewater-based epidemiology centers of excellence, as part of the April 2021 $8.2 million award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADxSM) initiative.

Wastewater-based epidemiology can help communities monitor infection dynamics for SARS-CoV-2 and can serve as an early-warning system for the virus in a population, but widespread implementation has been stymied by lack of robust, high-throughput viral concentration methods.

Ceres’ Nanotrap® Magnetic Virus Particles address this problem by enabling rapid viral concentration directly from raw sewage, significantly reducing the time and effort required to process wastewater samples. These particles are compatible with a wide range of RNA extraction kits and detection methods, including reverse transcription-quantitative polymerase chain reaction (RT-qPCR), reverse transcription-droplet digital PCR (RT-ddPCR), and viral genome sequencing. Wastewater testing methods powered by the Nanotrap® Particles enable wastewater-based epidemiology at multiple levels in a community, including at the building level, at the neighborhoods sewershed level, and at the wastewater treatment plant level.


“Our customers have processed tens of thousands of samples from college dorms, K-12 schools, sleepaway camps, government facilities, and wastewater treatment plants,” said Ben Lepene, Chief Technology Officer at Ceres Nanosciences. “A recent study by one of our university customers showed that 85% of the individual COVID-19 cases on campus were preceded by positive wastewater results.” 


Each Center of Excellence was selected based on its ability to utilize the expanded capacity to extend services into underserved and underprivileged communities and to provide critical information to public health decision makers. Each site received the materials and on-site training from Ceres’ field applications team to implement an automated protocol, which increases capacity to 100 samples per day and improves turnaround times to less than eight hours.

“These sites encompass non-profit, university, public health, and commercial testing labs in eight states with a total population of more than 120 million people,” said Tara Jones-Roe, Vice President of Sales and Marketing for Ceres Nanosciences. “We are very proud of this amazing set of organizations and look forward to identifying additional sites.”

Details with contact information for each Center of Excellence are listed below.



Ceres Nanosciences is a privately held company, located in Prince William County, Virginia, focused on incorporating its novel Nanotrap® particle technology into a range of diagnostic and research products and workflows. The Nanotrap® particle technology can improve diagnostic testing by capturing, concentrating, and preserving low abundance analytes from biological samples. The Nanotrap® particle technology was developed with support from the National Institutes of Health, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, Schmidt Futures, the Defense Threat Reduction Agency, and the Commonwealth of Virginia. Learn more, including how Ceres is partnering with leading life science, bio-pharmaceutical, and diagnostic companies at


Press Contact:

Ross M. Dunlap

Ceres Nanosciences, Inc

1.800.615.0418 ext. 202


If you or your organization would like to learn more about how to participate in the Centers of Excellence Program, please visit  or email

Wastewater-based COVID-19 Surveillance Centers of Excellence

Arizona State University in collaboration with OneWaterOneHealth (Tempe, AZ)

Selection as a Center of Excellence has enabled Arizona State University’s Biodesign Institute and OneWaterOneHealth to scale up operations in Tribal communities from three to six reservation locations and to increase sampling frequency from monthly to weekly/biweekly. Regular meetings are conducted with Tribal epidemiologists, healthcare professionals, and community leaders to help inform the overall public health response in those communities. A high-frequency monitoring campaign for building-level hotspot surveillance of at-risk communities will be launched soon. A number of these projects have a downstream variant sequencing component, and efforts are underway with community stakeholders to integrate wastewater-derived data into existing epidemiology dashboards or to create standalone public-facing dashboards if desired and approved by the participating communities.

Media contact:

Sandra Leander



Technical contact:

Rolf Halden


CIAN Diagnostics (Frederick, MD)

CIAN Diagnostics is a leading provider of testing services in Maryland and the mid-Atlantic. The company provides COVID-19 testing services for state, county, and local governments, and has completed over 1.5 million tests. CIAN conducts pooled testing for Maryland K-12 school systems and mobile testing for Maryland Department of Health. Selection as a Center of Excellence will enable CIAN to offer this new testing paradigm to its key clients in Maryland and beyond.

To learn more, contact:

Sam Mullapudi


Public Health Laboratory of East Texas (Tyler, TX)

As one of 120 Laboratory Response Network reference laboratories supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the Public Health Laboratory of East Texas (PHLET) routinely tests clinical and environmental samples and reports results directly to the Texas Department of Health, the CDC, and other agencies. PHLET was the first in the region to provide SARS-CoV-2 testing for patients and has provided testing to approximately 60 health care facilities, public health departments, and first responders throughout East Texas. As a Center of Excellence, PHLET aims to provide testing of wastewater to identify areas of vulnerable and disparate populations in seven counties of east Texas through collaboration with the Northeast Texas Public Health District.


To learn more, contact:

Rachel Roberts French

903-877-7079 office


University at Buffalo – State University of New York (Buffalo, NY)

The University at Buffalo – State University of New York currently runs wastewater-based surveillance for Erie County, the city of Buffalo, and the University at Buffalo North Campus. This includes underserved and vulnerable populations within the city of Buffalo as well as rural populations south of the city. As a Center of Excellence, the University at Buffalo has increased testing capacity and, in collaboration with the Erie County Department of Health, is expanding services to additional underserved communities in neighborhoods and ZIP codes most directly affected by COVID-19. Efforts are underway to expand service throughout Western NY into additional underserved urban and rural populations, including Tribal lands.

To learn more, contact:

Cory Nealon

University of California Los Angeles (Los Angeles, CA)

As a Center of Excellence, University of California Los Angeles (UCLA) has ramped up its campus-based wastewater testing program from eight to 30 locations and, for the first time ever, has been able to offer same-day results. UCLA is also collaborating with Pangolin Health to expand wastewater-based testing to K-12 schools in Los Angeles. Researchers at UCLA are using the high-throughput method available in the Center of Excellence to establish a baseline of SARS-CoV-2 trends in the wastewater system at a local K-8 school prior to vaccine approval for the 5-11 age group.

To learn more, contact:

Bryan Ruiz


University of California Davis in collaboration with University of California Merced (Davis, CA)

University of California (UC) Davis has been monitoring wastewater for the City of Davis and the UC Davis campus using Nanotrap® Magnetic Virus Particles with RT-qPCR and RT-ddPCR detection since 2020. Starting in the summer of 2021, UC Merced and UC Davis began collaborating on a new initiative, Healthy Central Valley Together, to expand wastewater testing for public health action in California's Central Valley. The project will use wastewater-based epidemiology to increase equity in access to public health data for regions with elevated poverty, food insecurity, and COVID-19 case rates. Selection as a Center of Excellence leverages external support for the project and will support the project by increasing UC Davis and Merced's wastewater testing capacity for an additional six to eight facilities in the Central Valley, as well as to expand wastewater monitoring on the UC Davis campus. 

To learn more contact:

Junior Reyes


University of Connecticut (Storrs, CT)

One of the first universities in the country to begin testing its own wastewater, the University of Connecticut has been using a Nanotrap® Magnetic Virus Particle method to monitor samples from 16 sites on campus on a daily basis since 2020, as well as to provide wastewater testing for other towns, universities, military facilities, and even a sleepaway camp in New England. Inclusion in the Centers of Excellence Program is enabling the University of Connecticut to increase its sample throughput from 24 to 96 samples per day and expand capacity to serve additional communities in New England.

To learn more, contact:

Matthew Engelhardt


University of Kansas (Lawrence, KS)

Selection as a Center of Excellence has enabled the University of Kansas (KU) to monitor the community health of Kansas, including 95 rural counties, major urban centers, and military facilities. KU wastewater-based epidemiology monitoring efforts in Kansas’ eastern gateway communities provide a community health assessment of 454,041 individuals, including 84% of the population in Wyandotte County, a historically underserved community in Kansas. KU can now provide more frequent rural county testing (moving from a three-month to every other week rotation) and is sharing the data with local authorities, including wastewater treatment operators, county health departments, and the Kansas Department of Health and Environment.

To learn more, contact:

Brendan M. Lynch



Mindie Paget


West Virginia University (Morgantown, WV)

Selection as a Center of Excellence has enabled West Virginia University (WVU) to improve turn-around time four-fold and to improve weekly max sustained sample throughput by an order of magnitude (from 72 to 720 samples per week). Many of the current and projected collection sites are embedded in traditionally underserved rural communities with minimal access to routine healthcare and the testing results will enable more equitable allocation of healthcare resources to these communities. WVU has partnered with Marshall University and the West Virginia Bureau for Public Health to regularly test samples from 60 sites in West Virginia.  


To learn more, contact:

Tim Driscoll


This project has been funded in part by the NIH Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADxSM) initiative with federal funds from the National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering, National Institutes of Health. The current contract is funded from the Public Health and Social Services Emergency Fund through the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, Department of Health and Human Services, under Contract No. 75N92021C00012. 

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