Charlotte Evans  -  Point of care diagnostics: What can we learn from the medical industry?

Elizabeth Creak Charitable Trust

I grew up in the beautiful countryside near Usk in South Wales and moved to Warwickshire more than fifteen years ago to study at the University of Warwick.  I currently live in Northamptonshire with a cocker spaniel dog and two (fairly unproductive) chickens! I am passionate about working between applied practical science and application on to farm and have been privileged to have been involved in such work ever since I graduated, including running health improvement projects, knowledge exchange projects, trials, EU information sharing networks and demonstrating technical innovation on-farm. The focus has been on health – related issues and innovation. I feel very passionate about the development of cost-effective tools to aid decision making on farm to result in added value. I am challenging of new science and/or tool/techniques that fail to make a demonstrable impact.

Over the years I have owned my own sheep, horses and pigs locally, selling the meat from the Berkshire pigs to local restaurants, family and friends. On the weekends you will normally find me enjoying the beautiful countryside with my dog or visiting family who are back in Wales. I enjoy horse riding, especially cross country. I am also a keen skier.

I am extremely grateful to the Elizabeth Creak Charitable Trust Foundation, without whom this scholarship would not be possible. I am particularly inspired by the story of Elizabeth Creak, whose trust is based in an area that I now consider as my home.

The aim of the work is to investigate “point of care” or "rapid" diagnostics that are currently being used in the medical sector to detect infectious and non-infectious causes of ill health and thereby facilitate more prompt medical and non-medical treatment (the most widely known being the lateral flow, or pregnancy test). The aim is to investigate accuracy, practicality/ease of use and consistency. Health continues to be the main limitation to performance/productivity and poor health threatens exports and the reputation of the industry. Agriculture has been set targets to optimise antimicrobial use. Therefore our focus will be, more and more, to protect and improve health in a holistic way, using as many different techniques as possible. There are a large number of parallels between human and animal health. There is the potential to build greater networks between the different industries. Point of care diagnostics are not new but their uptake has been limited; before we start/continue to explore this area within agriculture it is vital to see what others have learnt so far.

To this end I am anticipating to travel to the USA and Africa to understand the rapid diagnostics that are being used in the field, in the community and in outbreak situations.