Nov 4, 2019
What happens to an infectious agent once it leaves the human
body? Well, it ends up in our cars, airplanes, food, water, and
soil. If we know how that contagion behaves “in the wild”, then
we’ll be able to kill it, filter it, or otherwise prevent it from
proliferating, and potentially improve the lives of millions of
people in the process. This is the study of Environmental
Microbiology and it’s a topic that today’s guest has spent more
than 30 years trying to understand.
Dr. Syed Sattar is Professor Emeritus of Microbiology at the
Faculty of Medicine, University of Ottawa. He is also a co-founder
and Chief Scientific Officer at CREM CO. He’s a
world-renowned expert who regularly advises national and
international agencies like the World Health Organization (WHO),
and private-sector companies.
We’re also joined by Bahram Zargar, CEO of CREM CO. This is
a company built on top of Dr. Sattar’s extensive body of work
that aims to speed the assessment, development, and promotion of
innovative and sustainable strategies for environmental control of
harmful microbes for a safer tomorrow. It blends engineering with
environmental microbiology to enable a whole new level of
- What happens to infectious agents once they leave the
- What can we do with that knowledge?
- How air travel and the international food market have
eliminated borders in the battle against infectious disease.
- How engineering can support Infection Prevention and Control
(IPAC) by enabling scientific rigor and validation.
- How this science can be used to develop new barrier technologies.
- What is lacking in today’s IPAC efforts and where does it need
- How disinfectants can lead to their own form of resistance
(i.e. bugs resistant to cleaning) and may even contribute to
- What’s the biggest challenge in matching IPAC innovations with
potential buyers in the healthcare system?
- Why we need to enable our “foot soldiers” (i.e. the cleaning
staff and environmental services teams at hospitals) with proper
training and tools to win this war.
- Why it’s important for innovators and manufacturers to be
more scientifically responsible (i.e. don’t chase the bug of the
- Why the government needs to increase funding for research and
development in IPAC.
- Why it’s so important to stand on the shoulders of the IPAC
greats that came before us and build on their work.
A few key points that I’d like to highlight:
- There’s very little money set aside by governments for research
and development in IPAC. If there’s no money, then the best
researchers aren’t motivated to go after these issues and
innovation is starved. We’ve seen that recently in the U.S with the
constant attack on the Prevention and Public
- We rely on our cleaning staff and Environmental Services (EVS)
teams to do a very important job in the hospital, but we don’t
treat that position with much respect. “If our soldiers are not
well trained and ill-equipped for battle, then how do we expect to
win the war against the spread of infection?”
- In a world of increasing antibiotic-resistance and
anti-microbial resistance, we must focus on prevention in
This episode originally aired on
The #HCBiz Sow on May 17, 2017.