NYU Langone Molecular Outbreak Program
Hospital-acquired infections can pose a serious health risk to patients, and the NYU Langone Molecular Outbreak Program is leading the way in developing and applying new tools for the detection and prevention of infection. In addition, our mission is to offer short- and long-term training and research opportunities. Our staff includes epidemiologists, infection control practitioners, microbiologists, molecular biologists, and mathematical modelers.
Driven by the latest technology, the Molecular Outbreak Program uses genome sequencing to identify, track, and prevent infectious disease–causing pathogens from spreading. Collaborating with the infection prevention and control unit and the Department of Microbiology, the Molecular Outbreak Program provides real-time data that can generate early warnings of potential healthcare-associated infections and outbreaks.
We provide research opportunities to infectious diseases and immunology fellows who are interested in a career in research. The program also offers clinical training in genome sequencing and molecular epidemiology to those who wish to pursue a career in infection control.
In 2013, NYU Langone’s Division of Infectious Diseases and Immunology initiated a system for automatic detection of infection clusters and related antimicrobial resistance profiles. The system includes an information unit that analyzes microbial culture and antimicrobial resistance data. Based on this analysis, the system generates alerts for groups of infection that exceed preset statistical ranges, suggesting hospital-acquired infection clusters or outbreaks.
These clusters are investigated by infection control experts, and the Molecular Outbreak Program is notified. The Molecular Outbreak Program uses advanced technology for high-resolution molecular typing, an important infection control tool that helps monitor the prevalence of certain strains to investigate whether a cluster of infections is unrelated or part of an outbreak.
Molecular typing complements automated cluster detection in understanding how pathogens are transmitted and serves as an early warning system for detecting transmission.
Linking information on genetic patterns of the pathogens with patients’ epidemiological information provides more definitive conclusions to confirm or refute the outbreak. Molecular typing is particularly useful for organisms such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) that are often difficult to identify even during large outbreaks.
The ability to detect transmission of pathogens within the hospital allows us to use focused infection prevention measures to keep patients safe and prevent the spread of infection.