Emerging technologies laboratory

Research scientist
Nathalie Corneau, M.Sc.
Bureau of Microbial Hazards, Food Directorate, Health Canada

On this page

Research activity

A big hurdle in food safety is the amount of time it takes for classic culture-based techniques to detect pathogens in a food sample. This delays any possible life-saving actions. New molecular techniques can detect pathogens more quickly and can give investigation officials more information about the pathogens. However, the complexity of food and the fact that the pathogens are usually present in very small amounts are still problematic for these techniques. The lack of good, quick, and standardized sample preparation tools from food is a big challenge in pathogen detection and isolation.

The research being done in our laboratory aims to design, develop, and test new tools that can detect pathogenic bacteria, viruses and parasites in food. Tools that can quickly detect pathogens help to reduce illnesses caused by contaminated foods, and support surveillance activities. The Rapid Diagnostics Laboratory works to create such tools by developing portable lab-on-a-chip systems that can do rapid sample preparation as well as detection, isolation, identification, and characterization of pathogens in food, food processing environments, and water.

Our Lab-on-a-Chip projects aim to reduce the amount of time required for the isolation and detection of foodborne pathogens from 5-7 days to 8-30 hours. It also strives to allow food testing with very little laboratory resources, less hands-on time and lower cost. The automated Lab-on-a-Chip system scales down and connects many laboratory steps like filtration, liquid mixing, and enzyme reactions. A credit card-sized chip that contains all the chemicals needed to detect and identify a pathogen is mounted on a computer-controlled device called the Power Blade, which processes samples automatically. Since the whole process takes only a few hours, this tool is a quick, reliable, portable, cost-effective, and user-friendly solution for rapid pathogen detection for government regulatory authorities and the food industry.

National Research Council Canada

Government of Canada, Scientific Blogs

Methods of Analysis

Canadian Food Inspection Agency

Public Health Agency of Canada - A-Z Infectious Diseases

Current research projects

  1. Rapid response and early detection of foodborne pathogens through Lab-on-a-chip technologies
    • This project aims to develop an automated and rapid “sample-to-answer” solution to streamline and miniaturize numerous steps in sample preparation, detection and identification of foodborne pathogens. This will reduce current turnaround times for pathogen detection from 5-7 days to 8-30 hours.
  2. Development of an automated microfluidic device for rapid and efficient preparation of genomic DNA from foodborne pathogens for whole genome sequencing
    • The ultimate goal of this project is to develop a fully automated sample-to-sequencer solution to streamline, miniaturize, and integrate numerous steps in sample preparation of foodborne pathogen DNA for NGS. The objectives of the program include:
      • Development of microfluidic systems for the automation and rapid preparation of NGS samples from foodborne pathogen DNA
      • Adaptation of a chip-based protocol for the production of DNA libraries compatible with NGS technologies; and
      • Optimization and validation of the automated sample preparation device.
  3. Design and development of a sample preparation device to isolate pathogens from food samples
    • Conventional and culture-based methods to isolate, identify, and confirm the presence of pathogens in food are laborious and take up to several days to complete. Through lab-on-a-chip technology, complex and tedious laboratory steps are integrated, automated, and miniaturized into a chip the size of a credit card. This project aims to produce a rapid and reliable sample preparation system for the isolation of foodborne pathogens from complex food matrices.

Recent publications

Google Scholar Profile


Reiling SJ, Merks H, Zhu S, Boone R, Corneau N, and Dixon BR. A cloth-based hybridization array system for rapid detection of the food- and waterborne protozoan parasites Giardia duodenalis, Cryptosporidium spp. and Toxoplasma gondii. 2021. Food Waterborne Parasitol 24:e00130.

Nasheri N, Harlow J, Chen A, Corneau N, and Bidawid S. Survival and Inactivation by Advanced Oxidative Process of Foodborne Viruses in Model Low-Moisture Foods. 2021. Food Environ Virol 13(1):107-116.

Geissler M, Brassard D, Clime L, Pilar AVC, Malic L, Daoud J, Barrère V, Luebbert C, Blais BW, Corneau N, and Veres T. 2020. Centrifugal microfluidic lab-on-a-chip system with automated sample lysis, DNA amplification and microarray hybridization for identification of enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli culture isolates. 2020. Analyst 145(21)6831-6845.

Geissler M, Malic L, Morton KJ, Clime L, Daoud J, Hernández-Castro JA, Corneau N, Blais BW, and Veres T. 2020. Polymer Micropillar Arrays for Colorimetric DNA Detection. Anal Chem 92(11):7738-7745.

Nasheri N, Harlow J, Chen A, Corneau N, and Bidawid S. 2020. Evaluation of Bead-Based Assays for the Isolation of Foodborne Viruses from Low-Moisture Foods. J Food Prot 83(3):388-396.

Petronella N, Ronholm J, Suresh M, Harlow J, Mykytczuk O, Corneau N, Bidawid S, and Nasheri N. 2018. Genetic characterization of norovirus GII.4 variants circulating in Canada using a metagenomic technique. BMC Infect Dis 18:521.

Sherratt AR, Rouleau Y, Luebbert C, Strmiskova M, Veres T, Bidawid S, Corneau N, and Pezacki JP. 2017. Rapid screening and identification of living pathogenic organisms via optimized bioorthogonal non-canonical amino acid tagging. Cell Chem Biol 24(8):1048-1055.e3.

Mykytczuk O, Harlow J, Bidawid S, Corneau N, and Nasheri N. 2017. Prevalence and molecular characterization of the Hepatitis E virus in retail pork products marketed in Canada. Food Environ Virol 2:208-218.

Nasheri N, Petronella N, Ronholm J, Bidawid S, and Corneau N. 2017. Characterization of the genomic diversity of Norovirus in linked patients using a metagenomic deep sequencing approach. Front Microbiol 8:73.

Geissler M, Clime L, Hoa XD, Morton KJ, Hébert H, Poncelet L, Deschênes M, Gauthier ME, Huszczynski G, Corneau N, Blais BW, and Veres T. 2015. Microfluidic integration of a Cloth-Based Hybridization Array System (CHAS) for rapid, colorimetric detection of Enterohemorrhagic Escherichia coli (EHEC) using an articulated, centrifugal platform. Anal Chem 87(20):10565-10572.

Malic L, Zhang X, Brassard D, Clime L, Daoud J, Luebbert C, Barrere V, Boutin A, Bidawid S, Farber JM, Corneau N, and Veres T. 2015. Polymer-based microfluidic chip for rapid and efficient immunomagnetic capture and release of Listeria monocytogenes. Lab Chip 15:3994-4007.

Clime L†, Brassard D†, Geissler M, and Veres T. 2015. Active pneumatic control of centrifugal microfluidic flows for lab-on-a-chip applications. Lab Chip 15:2400–2411. † Equal contribution.

Ganz K, Clime L, Farber JM, Corneau N, Veres T, and Dixon B. 2015. Enhancing the detection of Giardia duodenalis cysts in foods using inertial microfluidic separation. Appl Environ Microbiol 81(12):3925-3933.

Clime L, Hoa XD, Corneau N, Morton KJ, Luebbert C, Mounier M, Brassard D, Geissler M, Bidawid S, Farber JM, and Veres T. 2015. Microfluidic filtration and extraction of pathogens from food samples by hydrodynamic focusing and inertial lateral migration. Biomed Microdev 17:17.

Laboratory methods

Pagotto F, Corneau N, Blais B, and Phillippe LM. 2002. MFLP-78: Identification of presumptive positive Listeria monocytogenes from foods and environmental samples by the polymerase chain reaction. In Volume 3, The Compendium of Analytical Methods, Health Canada, Health Products and Food Branch.

Multi-departmental collaboration

The Reference Centre for Rapid Diagnostics, Regulatory Sciences and Food Safety


A joint Health Canada (HC) - National Research Council (NRC) laboratory for rapid diagnostics of microbial hazards in food was created in 2010 to design and implement emerging Lab-on-a-Chip technologies for rapid pathogen detection along the farm-to-fork continuum. Known as The Rapid Diagnostics Centre, it aims to connect, at an operational level, important and complementary expertise in microbiology (Bureau of Microbial Hazards, HC) and fabrication and integration technologies (NRC at Boucherville, Quebec). The BioAnalytical Micro-Nano Devices Section at NRC Boucherville provides infrastructure and expertise in the field of polymer-based micro-nano fabrication of microfluidic integrated systems for sample preparation and genetic identification.


Design and development of novel technologies for the detection, characterization, and surveillance of foodborne pathogens in the farm-to-fork continuum.


  • Enhance surveillance and food safety by focusing on early detection through the development of lab-on-chip technologies for foodborne bacterial, viral, and parasitic pathogens
  • Build upon and enhance strategic networks in order to advance inter-governmental cooperation and scientific collaboration.

Contact information

Nathalie Corneau
Molecular Biologist
Health Canada
Food Directorate
Bureau of Microbial Hazards
Tel. 613-954-7728 / Fax 613-941-0280
E-mail: nathalie.corneau@hc-sc.gc.ca
Sir F. G. Banting Research Centre
251 Sir F. G. Banting Driveway, Tunney's Pasture
Postal Locator # 2204D, Ottawa, Ontario, Canada, K1A 0K9

Dr. Teodor Veres
Research Officer and Group Leader
National Research Council of Canada
BioAnalytical Micro-Nano Devices Section,
Medical Devices Research Center
Tel. 450-641-5232 Fax 450-641-5105
E-mail: teodor.veres@cnrc-nrc.gc.ca
Industrial Materials Institute
National Research Council Canada
75, de Mortagne, Boucherville, Québec, Canada, J4B 6Y4

Report a problem or mistake on this page
Please select all that apply:

Thank you for your help!

You will not receive a reply. For enquiries, contact us.

Date modified: