A series of three short courses took place between the 17th and 21st December 2018 at Public Health England (PHE), Porton Down in the UK. The training was delivered to scientists from Kazakhstan who represented two institutes in Almaty (NCB Central Reference Laboratory and KSCQZD) and two institutions in Astana (Centre for Influenza Sentinal Surveillance and the National Reference Laboratory for the Control of Viral Infections).
Professor Christopher H. Logue & Delaram Akhavein from the Novel and Dangerous Pathogens (NADP) Training group, led a one day training course in the use and maintenance of flexible film isolators (FFI). FFI’s allow scientists to work in a safe and contained environment with samples suspected of containing dangerous pathogens such as Crimean Congo Haemorrhagic Fever or Bacillus Anthracis. These were the same types of isolators used by PHE in West Africa to operate with the Ebola outbreak in 2014.
A two day practical laboratory training course followed the FFI training and focussed on the inactivation of infectious materials and the real-time PCR diagnosis of circulating pathogens such as the tick borne Encephalitis virus.
In addition to the technical training a bespoke two day nanopore minION sequencing training course was provided by Oxford Nanopore. This provided advanced practical experience across multiple samples using the cutting edge technology of the minION, a hand held genome sequencing device similar in size to a chocolate bar.
The outcome of this training will allow the trained Kazakh scientists, to inactivate highly dangerous microbiological material in a safe and contained way, carry out molecular diagnosis of suspect samples for pathogens and then carry out full genome sequencing of any pathogens identified and metagenomics sequencing. The scientists will now apply the knowledge gained through this course in disease surveillance and public health programmes in their own institutions.
These training courses have been made possible through funding by the European Union DG DEVCO.