Diagnostics for the Real World’s landmark SAMBA machine enters Science Museum Group’s permanent collection and features in major new “Injecting Hope” exhibition

4 March 2024

Breakthrough SAMBA II point-of-care diagnostic machine on show to the public from this November, as part of inspiring COVID-19 science showcase

Cambridge, United Kingdom, November 30th 2022 – Diagnostics for the Real World (DRW), innovator of the SAMBA platforms for rapid point-of-care detection of infectious diseases, today announces that the SAMBA device will be on public display at the Science Museum’s major new free exhibition “Injecting Hope: The race for a COVID-19 vaccine”, which runs from 30 November 2022 – 07 January 2024. The SAMBA machine will be showcased in the future pandemic preparedness section of the exhibition, which is being supported by The Wellcome Trust.

DRW was invited to donate the landmark SAMBA II point-of-care diagnostic device and its prototype to the collection as part of an extensive COVID-19 collecting project undertaken by the Science Museum Group, aimed at acquiring and capturing for posterity contemporary science and technology developed to tackle the pandemic.

The SAMBA machine can be seen on the Science Museum Group Collection website. The searchable Online Collection includes over 350,000 objects and archives from Science Museum Group, including the Science Museum, Science and Industry Museum, National Railway Museum, Locomotion and National Science and Media Museum. The SAMBA device and prototype were donated to the Kensington-based museum in June 2021, with Dame Mary Archer, Chair of the Science Museum Group’s Board of Trustees, and Natasha McEnroe, Keeper of Medicine, personally visiting the DRW campus at Chesterford Research Park in Saffron Walden to take formal receipt of the machine employing a unique point-of-care technology.

Natasha McEnroe, Keeper of Medicine at the Science Museum, commented: “The museum has taken a keen interest in Dr Helen Lee’s work throughout her career, and particularly since the development of the first SAMBA machine. After the successful adaptation of SAMBA for COVID-19 testing, it was an obvious candidate for our significant COVID-19 collecting project, and for this major new public exhibition. We are delighted that the SAMBA machine is now officially part of the national collection. Together with other important COVID-19 related items collected recently, the machine will help future generations understand the impact of COVID-19 on all our lives.”

Dame Mary Archer, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Science Museum Group said: “The Science Museum Group is thrilled to be acquiring the prototype SAMBA machine, developed by Helen Lee and her team over 10 years ago as a flexible platform for detection of viruses, as well as one of the latest SAMBA II machines to roll off the production line. These important items will join the Science Museum Group Collection as part of our ambitious COVID-19 collecting project, helping provide a permanent record for future generations of the pandemic’s impact on society.”

Dr Helen Lee, Chairman and CEO of Diagnostics for the Real World (DRW) added: “We are honoured to have been invited to donate our SAMBA II machine to the Science Museum, and for our technology to be joining this unparalleled collection of world-class science, technology, engineering, mathematics and medical innovation. Our SAMBA platform has delivered a very significant impact during the pandemic, providing vital rapid point-of-care testing across many healthcare settings. We are pleased and proud to take our place in this historic collection and in this new COVID-19 exhibition, which powerfully tells the story of the intense scientific endeavour and extraordinary achievements that have been delivered by the global science community in the race to find solutions and save lives.”

With support from WHO, The Wellcome Trust and CIFF (Children’s Investment Fund Foundation), the SAMBA technology was originally developed at University of Cambridge for detecting HIV in the developing world.  In March 2020 when the pandemic struck, the technology was rapidly adapted to accurately detect SARS-CoV-2 in response to the COVID-19 virus and was one of the first point-of-care diagnostic machines implemented in the NHS. Since then, almost a thousand SAMBA machines have been delivered to over 100 UK hospital to test nearly three million patients for COVID-19 infection. The robust, simple-to-use SAMBA II system – which can be operated with minimal training – offers a complete end-to-end diagnostic solution for the rapid and accurate detection of the COVID-19 virus and its variants by reducing the typical 1-2 day wait from centralised laboratory tests to less than an hour.

For the Science Museum Group Collection website, please visit:

For more information about the “Injecting Hope: The race for a COVID-19 vaccine” exhibition, please visit:

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