Polio, plague and pandemic

For centuries, mankind repeatedly had to fight new and old epidemics. And it was only in the modern era that improved hygiene conditions and the development of sewage systems brought an end to many infectious diseases. Today, there is even great potential in wastewater for combating current dangers. Because through its analysis, the spread of pathogens in the population can be monitored with little effort, future outbreaks can be detected and contained with appropriate measures.


International Conference on July 15, 2021

With this event, Technologieland Hessen invites international players in the field of wastewater-based epidemiology to discuss the great benefit of wastewater analyses for pandemic control together with representatives from business, science and politics. 


Environmental surveillance of wastewater has been in the WHO's repertoire against polio since the 1980s and since then establish itself in the public health systems of many countries. With the corona pandemic, the concept has now moved into the global spotlight. The US health protection agency has already set up its own system and all EU countries are also called to establish a national wastewater monitoring system by October.

Researchers from Hesse have already been able to demonstrate the feasibility of such a system for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 and its mutants several times. In addition, there are numerous potential areas of application beyond Corona – from waterborne germs and antibiotic-resistant strains to other infectious diseases. It is now up to science, industry and authorities to join forces and exploit the possibilities of wastewater monitoring for the benefit of human health.

After an introduction to the history of epidemic control and wastewater monitoring, the focus of the programme is therefore on the current Corona challenge as well as on the question of how the concept can be used for other pathogens in the future.


- All times in CEST -

13:00 Welcome

13:10 Setting the scene: disease control and sewage monitoring
Plague. Power. Society. Pandemics in historical perspective Flagge Deutschland
Prof. Karl-Heinz Leven, Director of the Institute for History and Ethics of Medicines, FAU, Germany

Environmental Surveillance: use for Polio Eradication and beyond 
Dr. Ousmane M. Diop, Global Coordinator of the Polio Laboratory Network, WHO-HQ, Swiss

14:00 Fighting the pandemic: corona monitoring in wastewater
The EU Sewage Sentinel System for SARS-CoC-2 and its variants (EU4S) – Realisation under the framework for the EC Recommendation Flagge Deutschland
Dr. Bernd Manfred Gawlik, Portfolio Leader Water Quality, European Commission, Joint Research Centre, Italy

On the trails of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater - what we can learn from this pandemic Flagge Deutschland 
Prof. Susanne Lackner, Chair of Wastewater Engineering, Technical University of Darmstadt, Germany

14:50 Short Break (10')
From pilot to full-scale; implementing wastewater monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 in Denmark
Dr. Sofie Midgley, Senior Scientist, Division of Infectious Disease Preparedness, Statens Serum Institut, Denmark

Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District’s Pandemic Response
Kevin Shafer, Executive Director, MMSD, United States

15:50 Open Discussion

16:20 Short Break (10')

16:30 Beyond Covid: pathogens and infectious diseases
Data and Tools for Understanding Global Waterborne Pathogens
Dr. Joan Rose, Homer Nowlin Chair in Water Research, Michigan State University, United States

Biobot: a wastewater-based outbreak detection and mitigation platform
Dr. Mariana Matus, CEO & Cofounder of Biobot Analytics, United States

Antimicrobial resistance - Detection of multiresistant pathogens in the water cycle Flagge Deutschland 
Gudrun Bettge-Weller & Susanne Harpel, Centre for Health Protection at the Hesse Health State Office, Germany

17:40 Open Discussion

18:00 End

Host: Dr. Felix Kaup, Hessen Trade & Invest

The conference languages are Englisch and German
German lectures Flagge Deutschland will be translated to English simultaneously


Review: Monitoring SARS-CoV-2 in the Sewage System

With this event, Technologieland Hessen brought together companies and scientists from the fields of wastewater treatment, PCR analytics and data sciences with representatives from the public health service to discuss the challenges and solutions for setting up a wastewater monitoring system.


Life during the corona pandemic is associated with far-reaching restrictions for society and the economy. However, if new sources of infection are detected early, targeted protective measures can be taken to counteract them. There is increasing evidence that the occurrence of infection in the catchment area can be monitored by detecting SARS-CoV-2 viruses in wastewater. Such a monitoring system could serve as a valuable decision-making aid.

The challenges for setting up a monitoring system are manifold and range from intelligent sampling and the development of robust PCR analysis to digital evaluation and dissemination of the data obtained to public decision makers. At the same time, developers, producers and service providers have the opportunity to react to this new market and adapt their products and services to the resulting requirements.


Tuesday: 9 February 2021 – held in English

14:00 European Research on Coronavirus-Wastewater-Monitoring – Epidemiology for COVID-19
Chair: Dr. Felix Kaup, Hessen Trade & Invest

Prof. Dr. Susanne Lackner & Dr. Shelesh Agrawal
Institute IWAR at Technische Universität Darmstadt

Dr. David Weissbrodt & David Calderón
Delft University of Technology

Dr. Tim Julian
Eawag - Swiss Federal Institute of Aquatic Science and Technology

 United Kingdom
Dr. Andrew Singer
UK Centre for Ecology & Hydrology

Dr. Zeynep Cetecioglu Gurol
KTH - Royal Institute of Technology

16:00 Open Q&A & Wrap-Up

16:30 END


Wednesday: 10 February 2021 – held in German

13:30 Begrüßung

13:40 Keynote: Infektionsgeschehen frühzeitig erkennen
Welches Potential liegt in Abwasseranalytik für den Umgang mit SARS-CoV-2?
Prof. Dr. Susanne Lackner, Institut IWAR der TU Darmstadt

14:00 Beprobung – Digitale Lösungen für das Kanalnetz
Modellgestützte Ermittlung von "Hot Spots" der Siedlungsentwässerung
Dr. Oliver Kraft, BGS Wasserwirtschaft GmbH, Darmstadt

Abwasser 4.0 – Von den Potenzialen eines Digitalen Zwillings für das Kanalsystem
Jan Hanken, idatase GmbH, Frankfurt am Main

14:40 Analytik – Abwasser in der PCR-Diagnostik
„Herausforderung Sensitivität“ - Nachweis von SARS-CoV-2 im Abwasser
Dr. Rolf Marell, BAG Diagnostics GmbH, Lich

Neuheiten und Entwicklungen in der qPCR Detektion und NGS Sequenzierung von SARS-CoV-2
Dr. Thea Ziegler & Nicolai Wilk, Thermo Fischer Scientific, Darmstadt

15:20 Kaffepause

15:50 Datenauswertung und -nutzung – Technologien für eine digitale Entscheidungshilfe
Real-time tracking of SARS-CoV-2 using Nextstrain
Prof. Dr. Richard Neher, Biozentrum der Universität Basel

Digitale Unterstützung zur Pandemiebewältigung mit SORMAS
Prof. Dr. Gérard Krause, Helmholtz-Zentrum für Infektionsforschung, Braunschweig

16:30 Podiumsdiskussion: Corona-Monitoring im Abwasser – Was sind die Herausforderungen?
Prof. Dr. Susanne Lackner
Fachgebietsleiterin Abwasserwirtschaft an der TU Darmstadt

Dr. Peter Quick
Geschäftsführer der Promega GmbH und Vorstandsvorsitzender der Fachabteilung Life Science Research des VDGH e.V.

Dr. Susanne Schmid
Leiterin der Abteilung Abwasserbehandlung der Stadtentwässerung Frankfurt am Main

Prof. Dr. Richard Neher
Forschungsgruppenleiter Evolution von Viren und Bakterien am Biozentrum der Universität Basel

Moderation: Dr. Thomas Track
Leiter Wassertechnologie, DECHEMA e.V.

17:15 END


Workshop Report

Felix Kaup
Felix Kaup

Dr. Felix Kaup

Projektleiter Ressourceneffizienz & Umwelttechnologien
Konradinerallee 9, 65189 Wiesbaden, Hessen, Germany
+49 611 95017 8636 felix.kaup@htai.de
Hendrik Pollmann
Hendrik Pollmann

Dr. Hendrik Pollmann

Projektmanager Life Sciences & Bioökonomie
Konradinerallee 9, 65189 Wiesbaden, Hessen, Germany
+49 611 95017 8610 hendrik.pollmann@htai.de

Hessen Trade & Invest GmbH
Technologieland Hessen

Konradinerallee 9
65189 Wiesbaden
Tel +49 611 95017-8672
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