Lee H. Harrison, MD, has been awarded funding of $3,884,978 for a five-year competitive renewal R01 grant by the National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIH/NIAID) entitled “Enhanced Detection System for Healthcare-Associated Transmission of Infection (EDS-HAT).” This proposal was submitted in response to the competitive funding opportunity entitled, “NIH Research Project Grant Program (Parent R01),” under funding opportunity number PA-20-185.

Despite recent progress in reducing the incidence of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimated that 687,000 HAIs occurred in U.S. acute care hospitals in 2015 and that the HAI prevalence on a given day was one in 30 patients. An estimated 72,000 patients died with HAIs during their hospitalization. Outbreaks in hospitals remain a serious problem but the vast majority of hospitals use antiquated and ineffective methods to detect them. Dr. Harrison and his laboratory established the Enhanced Detection System for Healthcare Acquired Transmission (EDS-HAT), which combines bacterial whole genome sequencing (WGS) surveillance (as opposed to reactive WGS) to detect outbreaks with data mining (DM) of the electronic health record (EHR) and machine learning (ML) to identify the responsible transmission routes. Dr. Harrison has demonstrated that EDS-HAT detects both serious outbreaks that were otherwise unrecognized and novel transmission routes.

This renewed award elucidates that EDS-HAT 1) detects serious bacterial outbreaks that are missed by traditional IP methods; 2) identifies previously unrecognized transmission routes; and, 3) improves patient safety while reducing healthcare costs. EDS-HAT research is highly translational and will improve outbreak detection of serious pathogens in hospitals through incorporation of innovative genomic and computational methods. Transmission of high-impact viruses, such as influenza, respiratory syncytial virus, and SARS-CoV-2, is a neglected area of IP despite growing evidence of hospital transmission. This improved methodology will be broadly applicable to U.S. hospitals and other healthcare settings.