LAB WITHOUT WALLS ANNUAL GENERAL MEETING
THURSDAY 29 OCTOBER 2020, 5.30pm
Pathology Conference Room, G14, M Block, QE2 Medical Centre
Approval of last AGM minutes
Financial Report for year ending June 2020
Chairman’s Report – Dr Barry Mendelawitz
Scientific report – Dr Tim Inglis
Scholarship report – Ben McFadden
Heather Inglis Barry Mendelawitz
Tim Inglis Venkat Ravi Doddi
Ekaterina Farsalas Nhut Tran
Teagen Er Christine Carson
Peter Boyle Teagan Paton
Ben McFadden Kieran Mulroney
Ian Fairnie Richard Bradbury
John Kevan Melodie Kevan
Ronald Bower Nadezda Urosovic
Giancarlo Mazzella Ian Marr
- Previous Minutes proposed by Barry Mendelawitz and seconded by Tim Inglis. Approved
- Treasurer’s Report: Balance is $76,845.50. We acknowledge generous donations this year from Northern Star Resources for mobile testing equipment, particularly for COVID19. New website funded. Grateful thanks to Ralph Fardon for auditing our accounts and to ANZ for waiving fees. Proposed by Heather Inglis and seconded by Kieran Mulroney. Approved
- Chairman’s Report, Dr Barry Mendelawitz
It’s been a busy and exciting year for LWW as we have worked on building capability and capacity to Regional WA. The silver (golden??) lining to COVID19 was the introduction to Northern Star Resources, WA’s biggest gold mining company. Their generous donations have allowed LWW to purchase mobile PCR testing units to enable rapid COVID testing and we are very grateful. When COVID is in the past we will be able to use the same equipment to test for other things. This will help in the fight against AMR which kills at least as many people as COVID19.
We have welcomed two new board members, Peter McEwen as treasurer and Peter Boyne who brings a wealth of experience in clinical laboratory operation and management. This gives us a strong board with lots of potential for next year.
We also have a new website: www.labwithoutwalls.org and I urge you to check it out.
- SCIENTIFIC AND TECHNICAL REPORTS
As we started the current LWW year we could not have guess what challenges we were going to face after the summer holiday season. But the last two months of the year saw a WA Health Excellence award in recognition of remote and regional work this organisation has supported since it was founded. On the back of that, PathWest’s Chief Executive agreed to support further development of the FAST method, and set the FAST Lab the ambitious goal of implementation by the end of 2020.
Six months later, the university had closed down its lecture theatres and teaching labs, PathWest had become a COVID-19 test production line, and most biomedical research had shifted focus to COVID and the coronavirus. For almost a month at the start of the Australian epidemic those of our members who were still able to get into work started work on a series of COVID-19 tasks, while trying to keep the FAST method development on track. With the benefit of hindsight, this period of peak COVID-19 activity in WA was highly productive and led to generous external funding from locally based industry, particularly Northern Star Resources, who underwrote the development and validation of the mobile COVID lab.
Now, at the end of a busy year, our validated mobile laboratory capability has completed field trials. The mobile lab is ready and waiting for rapid response to the first rumblings of a COVID-19 outbreak in regional WA. This is the first such capability in Australia and has already seen action, mobilising in less than 48h for a fly-in, fly-out one day deployment to the Kimberley region. We have also worked on COVID-19 personal and collective protection measures, rapid COVID diagnosis by machine learning, and COVID risk assessment methods, all of which amount to a package of COVID-19 countermeasures. While all this has been going on, we have made further progress with the FAST method, automating the analysis of complex data and expanding the number of tested microbes and antibiotic combinations to over 16,000.
COVID-19 has closed down most of the opportunities to present our work outside WA, but it has presented other ways and means of letting others know what we’ve been up to.
Successful mobile field trials were held in the West Kimberly, in Derby and Broome. Temperatures were logged during transport as samples were returned to Perth for repeat, validation tests. A second (one day) trip to the Kimberly was an opportunity to make adjustments to procedures.
Tasks now include maintaining quality assurance, dedicated MCL (Mobile Coronavirus Laboratory) rules and an external Quality Assurance Programme. This will become a template for mobile diagnostics elsewhere. A training programme has been developed for laboratory staff (5 days to proficiency) and several students have already been trained.
- Scholarship Report – Benjamin McFadden
Ben is a data scientist who has developed software to assess Covid19 risk, nationally and internationally. He has built it with open source software and data and it adds another dimension to research capability. While it is currently being used for Covid19, it also has big implications for AMR and Sepsis.
Ben had two posters presented at Antimicrobials 2020 in Melbourne in February. LWW awarded him a scholarship to assist with conference registration and travel expenses
How is the FAST Lab progressing?
The team is working on various levels of validation and has big obstacles to overcome. Input and result analysis are now now automated . Various business development opportunities are being explored.
The meeting was closed at 6.15pm