Queens College to Receive Federal Funding for Project to Detect COVID-19 in Wastewater

 Students of diverse backgrounds to participate in high-level research activities 

Queens, NY, March 11—Queens College will receive $1,850,000 in federal funding for the creation of a Wastewater Epidemiology Training Laboratory project to develop strategies to detect dangerous pathogens in wastewater, including coronaviruses such as COVID-19.

The money is part of nearly $10 million in federal funds for Community Project Funding secured by U.S. Rep. Grace Meng (D-Queens) for ten projects throughout Queens.

The Wastewater Epidemiology Training Laboratory (WETLAB) at Queens College aims to develop simple, cost-effective, and robust strategies for detecting the presence of dangerous pathogens in sewershed wastewater, including coronaviruses, noroviruses, and Cholera, while training students of diverse backgrounds to participate in high level research activities. Failure to control virus outbreaks led to the emergence of novel variants of concern that threaten to erase gains from vaccination and recovery-based natural immunity. For these reasons, new approaches to community-wide pathogen surveillance are crucial for addressing the current and future pandemics. The WETLAB project was conceived and will be directed by Queens College Biology professor John Dennehy.

“Queens College is an outstanding institution in our borough, and I am thrilled that it will receive funding to establish a Wastewater Epidemiology Training Laboratory (WETLAB) through the new government spending package,” said Congresswoman Grace Meng, New York’s senior member of the House Appropriations Committee. “This lab will provide new and robust strategies for detecting the presence of dangerous pathogens in wastewater. It is something that all congressional districts can benefit from as we continue to battle coronaviruses and other harmful pathogens that can hurt our communities. I look forward to seeing this lab created, and all of the good it will do helping protect the residents of Queens.”

“Professor Dennehy has established himself as a leading expert on testing for COVID using innovative methods. His outstanding work is a great example of how academic research benefits the whole world,” says Queens College President Frank H. Wu. “Congresswoman Meng has always been a tremendous supporter of Queens College, and we are proud to be in her district. We are grateful that she appreciates the value not only of scientific research but our vital role within the community.”

“We are delighted to receive this funding support as it will enable us to train a new generation of students in wastewater epidemiology,” says Prof. Dennehy. “We hope to build pathways to high-paying jobs for our students, and additionally to provide support for New York City’s public health needs.”

Congresswoman Meng is New York’s senior appropriator on the House Appropriations Committee. The Community Project Funding is money that was included in the new government spending package which passed the House of Representatives late Wednesday, March 9. The legislation is now expected to pass the Senate and be signed into law by President Biden soon.

About Queens College
Queens College produces more education graduates who become principals, teachers, and counselors for the city’s public schools than any other college in the metropolitan area. The college contributes to the local talent pool as a powerful economic engine and a leader in tech education. Students from across the country and around the world are attracted to study at the Aaron Copland School of Music. Its renowned faculty and alumni include nationally recognized composers, conductors, and performers who have received over 100 Grammy Awards and nominations.

Queens College enjoys a national reputation for its liberal arts and sciences and pre-professional programs. With its graduate and undergraduate degrees, honors programs, and research and internship opportunities, the college helps its more than 20,000 students realize their potential in countless ways, assisted by an accessible, award-winning faculty. Located on a beautiful, 80-acre campus in Flushing, the college has been cited by Princeton Review as one of America’s Best Value Colleges for four consecutive years, as well as being ranked a U.S. News and World Report Best College and Forbes Magazine Best Value College thanks to its outstanding academics, generous financial aid packages, and relatively low costs. Visit our homepage to learn. more​.

Maria Matteo

Media and College Relations