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Biosurveillance and Pathogen Detection


Biosurveillance is a systematic process to survey the environment or location of interest for bacteria, fungi, viruses, or other biological entities that might cause disease in people, animals, or plants in support of detection and identification efforts and corresponding public health or safety. NIST develops standards, methods, and measurement solutions to support biosurveillance and biodefense in collaboration with partners and stakeholders. We leverage our core microbial measurement capabilities and apply them to applications including biothreat detection, wastewater surveillance, and pathogen detection. 


NIST has established partnerships with other federal agencies to develop standards and measurement solutions to support biosurveillance. These efforts are supported in part through interagency agreements with partner agencies listed below to address their standards needs.



  • SRM 2917 – Plasmid DNA with species-specific targets to detect and identify fecal contamination
  • RM 8230 – Lyophilized yeast cells quantified for total cell count to serve as minimal risk surrogates for threat agents and pathogens during training and field exercises
  • RM 8375 – Microbial genomic DNA from four species to challenge DNA sequencing technologies
  • RM 8376 – Genomic DNA from 19 pathogens (plus human DNA) to support pathogen detection via molecular methods


Created March 13, 2023, Updated August 7, 2023