Breath Biopsy Conference 2020: A Flagship Event for the Breath Research Community

Published on: 13 Nov 2020, under COVID-19


The third annual Breath Biopsy Conference saw nearly 700 academics and industrialists from across the globe register to attend two days of cutting-edge presentations covering the latest advances in breathomics, featuring 21 expert speakers and 19 research posters.


The Breath Biopsy Conference has experienced significant growth year-on-year since the inaugural meeting in 2018. This year’s fully online event took place on 10–11 November, with highlights including talks on using limonene to diagnose and stage liver disease and an overview of ongoing efforts to deploy dogs to sniff out COVID-19. There was also a robust and stimulating panel discussion that reviewed how far breath research has come in the last few years  – and some of the exciting possibilities that are still ahead of us.

The 2020 meeting was structured around dedicated sessions covering the Applications of VOCs, Breath Biomarkers for Liver Disease, Study Design and Data Analytics, and Breath Biopsy and COVID-19 alongside plenary talks from leaders in the field, including Terence Risby (Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health), Renelle Myers (BC Cancer Institute) and Joachim Pleil (Gillings School of Global Public Health).

BBCon 2020 Programme cover


What did this year’s attendees think?

“The conference was really well put together. It ran very smoothly. The format worked great, the content was extensive and engaging […]. Thank you once again.”

“I learned something from every presentation… a rarity in the conference world!”

“When considering the 2020 nightmare we are in the midst of… you all knocked it out of the park.”


One of the most exciting areas of recent research covered was the session on Breath Biomarkers for Liver Disease that featured presentations from Giuseppe Ferrandino (Owlstone Medical), John Plevris (University of Edinburgh) and Scott Friedman (Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai). This session detailed potential new non-invasive methods for diagnosing liver disease, including using limonene as an exogenous volatile organic compound Probe (EVOC® Probe), with dimethyl sulfide and acetone also showing potential for use stratifying liver disease patients.

        Read More from the Liver Disease Session

ReCIVA at BBCon Another area of key interest was the COVID-19 session. The current pandemic, which has changed all of our lives, has brought with it an increased level of outside interest in the field of breath analysis, new research results and realigned urgent research priorities in many areas. Marc van der Schee (Owlstone Medical) spoke about the renewed focus on capturing exhaled breath aerosol (EBA), where the virus can be found, alongside the VOCs that many breath samplers have traditionally focused on collecting, examining the performance of the ReCIVA® Breath Sampler for this use. Paul Thomas (Loughborough University) presented his work investigating GC-IMS as a simple tool for rapid COVID-19 detection, which has been successful in highlighting a particular compound on breath that can be associated with more severe outcomes. Finally, James Logan (London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine) discussed the need to screen asymptomatic individuals carrying COVID-19 in order to stem the spread of infection and how his previous work teaching dogs to smell Malaria could soon be transferably applied to help protect airports and mass gathering from COVID-19 too.


Thank you so much for everyone who attended this year’s conference and to our sponsors Thermo Fisher Scientific, LECO and Markes International. Your contributions helped to make it what it was and we hope you enjoyed it. If you missed out first time round, or you want to see any of the presentations again, don’t worry. The entire conference is now online for you to watch at your convenience.

Watch the 2020 CONFERENCE online