EXPERT INTERVIEWS

Dr Leslie Ogorzaly: Monitoring evolution of COVID-19 virus in wastewater

The appearance of this new SARS-CoV-2 virus, commonly known as Covid-19, on Luxembourg territory has given rise to an unprecedented collaboration between players in scientific research. In view of its profound repercussions on our society, the scientific community has started a real race against time to better understand this virus, and to be able to follow its evolution in time and space within a population.
“This respiratory tropism virus is different from other viruses we have known so far, which is why we did not expect possible detection of it in stool samples. As soon as we became aware of this fact we took action through the CORONASTEP+ project to be able to detect and monitor it in Luxembourg wastewater,” explains Leslie Ogorzaly from the Luxembourg Institute of Science and Technology (LIST).

Dr Leslie Ogorzaly
The concept behind Luxembourg’s testing strategy: Why large scale testing helps with the exit

Research Luxembourg has developed a large-scale testing strategy, which should make the current lockdown-easing measures safer and faster. The project is unique in the world: the goal is to test the entire Luxembourg population. The main aim is to prevent new chains of infection so that the most important elements of everyday life can be guaranteed without endangering the health of individuals or overburdening the health system. Science.lu spoke with the spokesperson and deputy spokesperson of the Covid-19 Task Force, Ulf Nehrbass (LIH) and Paul Wilmes (University of Luxembourg).

Profs Drs Ulf Nehrbass & Paul Wilmes
Manon Gantenbein

Dr Manon Gantenbein is the current Director of the Clinical and Epidemiological Investigation Centre (CIEC) of the LIH Department of Population Health. She is currently playing a crucial role in the implementation of five new projects on Covid-19, launched in Luxembourg since the beginning of the pandemic. In this short interview, she talks about her expertise and her involvement, as well as the role of her team and her main partners in these ongoing Covid-19 initiatives.

Dr Manon Gantenbein © LIH
Guy Berchem

Dr Guy Berchem (GB) is an oncologist and Director of Research at the Centre Hospitalier de Luxembourg (CHL), having also recently been appointed Associated Medical Director at the Luxembourg Institute of Health (LIH). As a “clinician scientist” with dual expertise in both research and healthcare, Dr Berchem is currently playing a crucial role in the setup of clinical studies on Covid-19 in Luxembourg, in close collaboration with the Clinical and Epidemiological Investigation Centre (CIEC) at LIH. In this short interview, he discusses his expertise and involvement in ongoing Covid-19 projects.

Dr Guy Berchem © Paul Foguenne
Rudi Balling

Prof. Rudi Balling (RB), Director of the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine of the University of Luxembourg, is coordinating approaches for COVID-19 statistical projections and their potential for political decision support for the healthcare system within the Research Luxembourg COVID-19 Taskforce. In this short interview, he discusses his expertise and involvement in ongoing COVID-19 projects.

Prof Rudi Balling © scienceRelations
Dirk Brenner

Prof Dirk Brenner (DB) is Deputy Head of Research & Strategy and leads the Experimental and Molecular Immunology research group at the LIH Department of Infection and Immunity. As an immunologist, his research focuses on unravelling the links between the immune system and the onset of a variety of diseases. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, Prof Brenner and his team are currently involved in the provision of evidence-based advice on the coronavirus to the Luxembourg government and other relevant stakeholders, as well as contributing to improving the understanding of the way the infection spreads among the Luxembourgish population. In this short interview, he discusses his expertise and involvement in ongoing COVID-19 projects.

Prof Dirk Brenner © FNR
Chantal Snoeck

Prof Dirk Brenner (DB) is Deputy Head of Research & Strategy and leads the Experimental and Molecular Immunology research group at the LIH Department of Infection and Immunity. As an immunologist, his research focuses on unravelling the links between the immune system and the onset of a variety of diseases. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, Prof Brenner and his team are currently involved in the provision of evidence-based advice on the coronavirus to the Luxembourg government and other relevant stakeholders, as well as contributing to improving the understanding of the way the infection spreads among the Luxembourgish population. In this short interview, he discusses his expertise and involvement in ongoing COVID-19 projects.

Dr Chantal Snoeck © LIH
Paul Wilmes

Prof. Paul Wilmes (PW) is Principal Investigator at the Luxembourg Centre for Systems Biomedicine (LCSB) of the University of Luxembourg, whose research focuses on how microbial communities impact our health. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, he is deputy spokesperson for the COVID-19 Task Force of Research Luxembourg. As the representative of the University of Luxembourg in the Task Force, he is in charge of coordination between researchers working in the different focus areas, directing certain projects reflecting an immediate need as well as the liaison with the Ministries, hospitals and research institutions in Luxembourg. In this short interview, he discusses his expertise and involvement in ongoing COVID-19 projects.

Prof Paul Wilmes © FNR
Markus Ollert

Prof Markus Ollert (MO) is the Director of the LIH Department of Infection and Immunity. As a medical doctor and researcher, he exemplifies the “clinician scientist” profile, bringing both his healthcare and research experience to the table in order to unravel the processes underlying the onset of immune-related diseases. In the context of the COVID-19 pandemic, Prof Ollert and his team are currently involved in supporting the diagnostic capacity of hospitals and routine clinical laboratories to test for the SARS-CoV-2 virus, as well as contributing to the development of a large-scale testing strategy for Luxembourg. In this short interview, he discusses his expertise and participation in ongoing COVID-19 projects.

Prof Markus Ollert © LIH