Illumina prize winner Mattia Prosperi gets creative with Mini Cooper, MiniSeq, HealthStreet and bugs

Dr. Prosperi and Dr. Linda Cottler attend the awards ceremony for the Illumina Go Mini Scientific Challenge. Photo by Evan Barton.

Florida bugs, beware: the UF CTSI’s HealthStreet program will soon be hitting the road in a Mini Cooper as part of a new study that garnered UF’s Mattia Prosperi, Ph.D., M.Eng., the top prize among 1,100 applications worldwide for the Illumina Go Mini Scientific Challenge.

Prosperi, an associate professor in the department of epidemiology at the College of Public Health and Health Professions and the College of Medicine, will collaborate with HealthStreet and colleagues in the Emerging Pathogens Institute to track mosquito-borne viruses using a technique called “splatology,” in which insect samples are gathered from the bumpers and windshields of passenger vehicles. Bug “splats” will be collected after HealthStreet’s team takes the car on the road as part of their outreach to medically underserved communities. With the other part of Prosperi’s prize – a next-generation sequencing MiniSeq machine and materials for three data runs – the samples will be analyzed to identify pathogens carried by the insects, such as chikungunya, dengue and Zika viruses.

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