We accept all test referrals. Find a Collection Centre

Home Newsroom News

Hueston…we have a solution

Media Resources & Contact
In this story
27th September, 2022

One of the hardest working ‘quiet achievers’ behind the incredible work at NSW Health Pathology during the COVID-19 pandemic was Dr Linda Hueston. She developed crucial tests to detect antibodies in blood that could determine whether a person has been infected with the COVID-19 virus.

NSW Health Pathol­o­gy has been described as ‘the qui­et achiev­ers dur­ing the pan­dem­ic, work­ing incred­i­bly hard behind the scenes’.

The state­ment couldn’t be more true for Dr Lin­da Hue­ston, Prin­ci­pal Hos­pi­tal Sci­en­tist and Chief Serol­o­gist at NSW Health Pathology’s West­mead laboratory.

When the rest of the coun­try was sweat­ing through the bar­be­ques and back­yard crick­et games that are syn­ony­mous with Aus­tralia Day, Dr Hue­ston spent the long week­end of Jan­u­ary 2020 hard at work in her laboratory.

She was work­ing on devel­op­ing three assays that could tell whether a per­son had been infect­ed pre­vi­ous­ly with the COVID-19 virus, based on the anti­bod­ies present in their blood.

She suc­ceed­ed.

Dr Hue­ston pio­neered the immuno­flu­o­res­cent serol­o­gy tests used in NSW to detect the spe­cif­ic anti­bod­ies the body cre­ates to fight the COVID-19 virus.

A pos­i­tive serol­o­gy result indi­cates the per­son had been infect­ed at one time, which can tell us if some­one was recent­ly infect­ed, even if they had recov­ered with­out being test­ed or were infect­ed with­out exhibit­ing any symptoms.

Serol­o­gy not only con­firms recent infec­tion, it can also be used poten­tial­ly to deter­mine immu­ni­ty, to deter­mine com­mu­ni­ty spread and find those peo­ple who were asymp­to­mati­cal­ly infected.

Dr Hueston’s team was the first to pro­duce and use the suite of immuno­flu­o­res­cent anti­body assays for the diag­no­sis of COVID-19 and the tests have now been used for thou­sands of patients.

They have assist­ed lab­o­ra­to­ries across Aus­tralia and in New Zealand with sero­log­ic diagnosis.

“I like puz­zles, under­stand­ing how things hap­pen and the ‘why’ of things,” said Dr Hueston.

“It is amaz­ing to see the work you do mak­ing a pos­i­tive dif­fer­ence to peo­ple and com­mu­ni­ties you’ll nev­er meet and who will nev­er meet you.

“My sci­ence super­pow­er is curios­i­ty and ingenuity.

“By con­sid­er­ing what would hap­pen under cer­tain cir­cum­stances and let­ting my mind play with pos­si­bil­i­ties, I’ve devel­oped assays used to diag­nose dis­ease in humans and animals.”

With a strong his­to­ry of suc­cess­ful test devel­op­ment and its trans­la­tion into rou­tine diag­nos­tic tests, Dr Hue­ston was recent­ly award­ed fund­ing under the NSW Health COVID-19 Research Grants to devel­op a suite of new tests that will improve rapid diag­no­sis of this disease.


Skip to content