Stakeholder Panel on Agent Detection Assays logo
AOAC’s Stakeholder Program on Agent Detection Assays (SPADA) is focused on developing the biothreat agent detection standards needed by government agencies and first response bodies.

AOAC INTERNATIONAL has been involved in the field of biothreat agent detection for over 15 years, evaluating and creating more than 20 standards in support of biothreat agent detection. This body of work includes standard method performance requirements, sampling standards, and method validation guidance.

SPADA was formed and today includes many of the world’s foremost biothreat detection experts. The SPADA partnership includes scientists from the U.S. Department of Defense, U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, U.S. Health and Human Services, U.S. Centers for Disease Control, U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and others.

Scope and Objectives

SPADA’s unique mission is to bring together expert stakeholders from across the biothreat community to create guidance for a comprehensive and uniform approach to scientific analysis and detection of biothreat agents.

Current Working Groups

Detection Capabilities with NGS Working Group

Chair: Dr. Tim Minogue, USAMRIID
Advances the utility of reference microbial sequencing databases to evaluate, develops and supports detection capabilities using NGS applications for deployable diagnostic kits and platforms/detectors.

Standards for NGS Biothreat Agent Detectors Working Group

Develops standards for NGS biothreat agent detectors that encompass both PCR-based amplicon sequencing applications and metagenomic applications.

  • Subgroup on Amplicon Sequencing Applications (Chair: Dr. Shanmuga Sozhamannan, DOD JPEO)
  • Subgroup on Metagenomic Applications (Chair: TBD)

Reference Database and In Silico Processes Validation Working Group

Chair: Dr. Michael Sussman, USDA AMS
Creates validation criteria and confidence parameters in reference genome databases.

Get Involved

  1. Be an Advisory Panel Member – Provide funding support and assist AOAC in setting priorities and deliverables for working groups. There are four (4) meetings per year.
  2. Be a Working Group Chair – Subject matter experts who work with staff to launch and lead working groups to develop and present deliverables to stakeholders. Staff and working group chairs coordinate biweekly working group meetings.
    View open calls for volunteers >
  3. Be a Working Group Member – Subject matter experts in aspects of the priority topic area and scope of the working groups required to accomplish deliverables. Active participation is required during biweekly working group meetings and in offline working group collaboration.
    View open calls for volunteers >
  4. Be a General Stakeholder – Anyone with a material interest in the program’s work who is not in a working group. Attend meetings, review and comment on draft consensus documents, participate in program discussions, and demonstrate community consensus on any consensus-based deliverables.
    View open calls for methods and comments >

If you are interested in supporting SPADA, please complete the SPADA participation form. You will be added to the AOAC SPADA roster and receive SPADA-related updates and news. For more information about SPADA, contact Deborah McKenzie, Senior Director, Standards and Official Methods, at [email protected].

Past Working Groups

This SPADA working group effort was sponsored by the U.S. Department of the Undersecretary of the Army – Test & Evaluation (DUSA T&E); the U.S. Joint Program Executive Office Joint Program Manager – Guardian Defense Biological Product Assurance Office (JPM-Guardian DBPAO); and Johns Hopkins University, Applied Physics Laboratory.

In Silico Analysis Working Group

The SPADA Working Group on in silico PCR analysis drafted standard procedures for the use of in silico PCR analysis, to build confidence that analysts in different laboratories will achieve equivalent results.

Bacteria Strain Verification Working Group

Assay developers or evaluators often discover that a bacterial culture is not the expected species or strain. There is currently no consensus on the process to authenticate bacterial strain. The SPADA Bacterial Strain Verification Working Group worked to develop guidelines for the characterization and authentication of bacterial strains.

Soil Testing Working Group

When deploying assays in the field to protect warfighters deployed in global war zones, it is critical to have a standard for evaluating how different soils affect inhibition, interference, and cross-reactivity of the assay. The SPADA Working Group on Soil Testing Samples drafted standard procedures for preparation and characterization of soils and the use of soil samples to evaluate candidate biothreat detection assays.