The role of exhaled particles in disease transmission & diagnostics
/The role of exhaled particles in disease transmission & diagnostics

The role of exhaled particles in disease transmission & diagnostics

March 8, 2022 | On-demand

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The SARS-CoV-2 virus took many by surprise. One of the reasons is that we had insufficient insight into how the virus is transmitted via exhaled particles that become airborne.

How can we better prepare for the future? Can we develop new tools for understanding and monitoring airborne viral transmission more thoroughly? And could these new tools also be used for screening and diagnostic purposes, not only for SARS-CoV-2, but also other respiratory pathogens such as tuberculosis and RSV?

During this mini conference on demand, imec hosts a 2-hour scientific conference on the importance of exhaled particles in respiratory infectious disease transmission and management. Since cross-collaboration between these domains will bring true innovation for diagnostics, several renowned speakers from the medical and engineering world will discuss the topic, including Donald Milton (Professor of Environmental Health at the University of Maryland School of Public Health), Jose-luis Jimenez (Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Fellow of CIRES; University of Colorado-Boulder.),Morten Ruhwald (Head of the tuberculosis program at FIND), Bert Verbruggen (IVD Program Manager at imec) and Michael Masterman-Smith (Consultant to RADx, the National Institutes of Health).

Watch on demand


Donald Milton

Donald Milton

Professor, Environmental & Occupational Health
School of Public Health, University of Maryland

Presentation: A Perspective on Airborne Infection and Prevention.

Donald K. Milton, MD, DrPH, is a Professor of Environmental Health at the University of Maryland School of Public Health, with a secondary appointment in the University of Maryland School of Medicine’s Department of Medicine. An internationally recognized expert on the aerobiology of respiratory viruses, Dr. Milton developed the concept of using indoor CO2 to directly measure rebreathed air and airborne infection risk. He is the Principal Investigator of the UMD StopCOVID study (investigating SARS-CoV-2 transmission) and of the newly NIH-funded Evaluating Modes of Transmission (EMIT-2) study, a 5-year $15 million UMD-UMB collaboration to perform randomized controlled trials that will define the modes and mechanisms of influenza transmission.

Dr. Milton graduated from University of Maryland, Baltimore County with a Bachelor of Arts in Chemistry in 1976 and obtained his Doctor of Medicine from Johns Hopkins University in 1980.  He went on to obtain his Master of Occupational Health and Doctor of Public Health from the Harvard School of Public Health in 1985 and 1989, respectively.

Jose-luis Jimenez

Jose-Luis Jimenez

Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and Fellow of CIRES; University of Colorado-Boulder.

Presentation: The modes of transmission of SARS-CoV-2: science and history

Jose-Luis Jimenez is a Distinguished Professor of Chemistry and a Fellow of CIRES at the University of Colorado at Boulder. He earned his PhD at MIT in 1999 and his MS at the Univ. of Zaragoza (Spain) and Univ. of Compiegne (France) in 1993. His research group focuses on advanced real-time aerosol measurements, as well as computer modeling. He is a Highly Cited Researcher, and a Fellow of the AAAR and the AGU. He has been investigating airborne transmission for the last 2 years, and has coauthored papers in e.g. The Lancet and Science on this topic, and has collaborated on research on the history of this topic [1, 2].

Morten Ruhwald

Morten Ruhwald

Head of the tuberculosis program, FIND

Presentation: FIND perspective on aerosol capture in tuberculosis

Morten Ruhwald, MD, PhD leads the TB programme at FIND in Geneva, Switzerland. Prior to joining FIND Morten was Chief Medical Officer at Statens Serum Institut in Copenhagen, Denmark where he oversaw the clinical development of TB and Chlamydia vaccines and specific skin tests for TB infection. At FIND Morten is responsible for a large portfolio of development projects and clinical trials on new TB diagnostics. A key aim of the program is to support development and evaluate new non-sputum based tests and sampling strategies such as aerosols to prepare for the post pandemic recovery of hard hit TB programs in low and middle income countries.

Bert Verbruggen

Bert Verbruggen

IVD Program Manager, imec

Presentation: Capturing exhaled particles with silicon - a covid success story

Bert is program manager at the imec solutions department and is responsible for the development of the SAR-CoV-2 breath sampling technology. Before joining imec 2 years ago he was product development director at MyCartis, a Flemish startup, responsible for the development of an immunoassay based IVD system. Earlier he worked as a consultant in medical and lifesciences product development at Verhaert. Bert holds a PhD in nanotechnology and biosensing and a master in bioscience engineering from the KULeuven.

Michael Masterman-Smith

Michael Masterman-Smith

Consultant to RADx, the National Institutes of Health

Presentation: Rapidly accelerating innovation in a pandemic.

Michael Masterman-Smith is an American entrepreneurial scientist. He is a Portfolio Executive with the United States Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) COVID-19 response initiative. He additionally is CEO and co-founder of the nanotechnology company Creative Sciences, Inc. Michael was an inaugural interdisciplinary STEM scientist in the California NanoSystems Institute specializing in precision single cell cancer diagnostics. Early in his biomedical career he co-discovered the elusive yet highly malignant ‘cancer stem cell’ in pediatric brain tumors. This pan-cancer discovery helped inform a transformational shift in cancer biology, diagnostics and therapeutics directed at these cells. He received his doctorate in Molecular & Medical Pharmacology from the David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA and did postdoctoral training in bioengineering in the UCLA Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Sciences.


Peter Peumans

CTO Health, imec


Peter Peumans holds a Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Princeton University, and a bachelor’s and master’s degree from KU Leuven. Prior to joining imec, Dr. Peumans was a professor of electrical engineering at Stanford University. He is the recipient of an NSF CAREER award and a Belgian-American Educational Foundation honorary fellowship. He is currently responsible for imec's strategy in health.

Who should attend the conference?

This mini conference is intended for:

  • Academics, Researchers & Clinicians with an interest in disease transmission
  • Policy makers who want to be prepared for (future) pandemics
  • Diagnostic companies with an interest in diagnostics through exhaled particles

Register here to watch the conference on demand