THE IN SITU LABORATORY INITIATIVE
Building local capacity to monitor wildlife health and disease emergence
Many of the world’s most biodiverse areas have the fewest resources for monitoring human-wildlife interactions, and this not only threatens their survival, it also elevates disease risks shared by humans and other animals. Globalization and climate change, both fueled by human actions, exacerbate these shared risks, and our challenges are too complex for a single group of nations or states to address; we need a global effort. The In Situ Lab Initiative (ISL) hopes to catalyze this movement by empowering local scientists and community leaders with modern wildlife population monitoring and pathogen surveillance tools. ISL represents a movement towards a decentralized and community-run One Health laboratory network. In literal terms, we are making a blueprint for performing routine wildlife community health assessments and pathogen screening in-country and near sites of sample collection. The ISL initiative formally launched in October 2020, with the first hub of the decentralized network to be established in the Peruvian Amazon.
The laboratory blueprint will include:
- Identifying a set of laboratory equipment and materials for genomic research techniques that maximize affordability
- Developing reliable, standardized protocols for pathogen screening, species detection, and population estimations
- Creating free data analysis software with integrated storage services
- Creating clear, practical guidelines that ensure the highest possible biosafety level standards