Strengthening Australia’s agricultural biosecurity through automated data analyses

Ms Mai Hlaing Loh1, Chantal Denham1, James Watson1, Kerryn  Saltmarsh1, James  Hollier1, Kristen  McAuley1, Gemma  Carlile1

1Commonweatlth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), Australian Animal Health Laboratory, Geelong, Australia


The CSIRO Australian Animal Health Laboratory (AAHL) is a key link in maintaining Australia’s pre and post-border biosecurity.  One of the services provided by AAHL is a Proficiency Testing program, accredited to international standard ISO 17043. Our projects monitor the performance of veterinary diagnostic laboratories within Australia and globally, and are fundamental to the improvement of prevention, control and eradication of diseases that pose a threat to agricultural and public health.

We monitor veterinary diagnostic laboratory performance by collating and reviewing diagnostic test data of pathogens of significance such as Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza, Hendra and Nipah viruses.  The analysis we provide allows laboratories and international bodies, such as the UN Food and Agricultural Organisation (FAO) and World Organisation for Animal Health (OIE), to identify gaps in current diagnostic methods, and informs jurisdictional laboratories on the best diagnostic methods for use in the surveillance of circulating and emerging pathogens.

Another component of our work allows laboratories to visualise their test performance in real-time.  This allows them to compare their test performance against other national laboratories and provides scope for method optimisation.  Laboratories enter their data into an external access portal, which generates graphs showing their test performance relative to other diagnostic laboratories.

In this talk, I will give an overview of how we are automating the data processing of our proficiency testing and reference material program data with examples of day-to-day problems this has resolved and real-world impact we deliver.


Mai Hlaing works in the Proficiency Testing and Reference Materials team within CSIRO’s Australian Animal Health Laboratory’s Diagnostic Surveillance and Response group. She manages projects that contribute to building diagnostic capacity for pathogens of significance both nationally and internationally. Mai Hlaing also works closely with international laboratories in establishing capability in veterinary laboratories, contributing to forward surveillance as part of Australia’s pre-border biosecurity strategy.


AeRO is the industry association focused on eResearch in Australasia. We play a critical coordination role for our members, who are actively transforming research via Information Technology. Organisations join AeRO to advance their own capabilities and services, to collaborate and to network with peers. AeRO believes researchers and the sector significantly benefit from greater communication, coordination and sharing among the increasingly different and evolving service providers.