Are we already at the end of 2019?! While to many of us it felt like the year flew by, APHL staff, members and partners accomplished a LOT in an effort to protect the public's health. In this episode, Scott Becker, APHL's executive director, reviews some of the highlights of the year along with Gynene Sullivan, APHL's manager of communications, who is finalizing our Annual Report.
This year marks 20 years since the inception of the Laboratory Response Network (LRN). Founded by APHL, CDC and the FBI, the LRN exists to protect the public from biological and chemical threats. How did the LRN get its start? And how has it evolved over the past 20 years? This episode of Lab Culture features an interview with two public health laboratory scientists and LRN experts.
Maureen “Moe” Sullivan
Emergency Preparedness and Response Laboratory Supervisor
Public Health Laboratory, Minnesota Department of Health
Biomonitoring and Emerging Contaminants Unit Supervisor
Public Health Laboratory, Minnesota Department of Health
Minnesota Laboratory Emergency Preparedness
About the Laboratory Response Network (APHL.org)
The Laboratory Response Network Partners in Preparedness (CDC.gov)
What is biomonitoring? (Video)
“Pine County man charged with government center threats, more” (StarTribune)
APHL has a long history of involvement in Sierra Leone where we’ve provided technical assistance to strengthen the nation’s laboratory system for over a decade. Following the 2014-2015 Ebola outbreak, we were invited back to build laboratory response capability for Ebola and other highly infectious diseases.
We found there was a lot to be done: a strategic plan for the laboratory system, renovation of the central lab, training and mentoring of lab staff, reducing turnaround time for Ebola testing, and much more.
With the engagement completed earlier this year, APHL Executive Director Scott Becker and Manager of Global Health Sherrie Staley share insights from APHL’s on-the-ground experience, which include the value of a healthy ram.
Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha, author of What the Eyes Don't See: A Story of Crisis, Resistance, and Hope in an American City, joins us for an interview about the importance of storytelling in public health. Did Dr. Mona's successful use of narratives allow Flint's story to be as resilient as the people who lived it?
Is water in Flint safe to drink? It’s not just a question of chemistry. [Op-ed by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha]
Today was day three of the annual meeting! We started the day with awards ceremony and concluded with the member assembly, listening to many great speakers in between. For many, the highlight was the Dr. Katherine Kelley Distinguished Lecture delivered by Dr. Mona Hanna-Attisha. Dr. Mona is a pediatrician, scientist, researcher, activist and author of What the Eyes Don’t See. Her research and the work of her team exposed the deliberate effort to cover up the Flint water crisis and the lead poisoning of Flint, Michigan's children.
It was another great day at the annual meeting in St. Louis! As the attendees interviewed on this episode will share, some of the highlights included Poster Speed Dating, learning about new technology from exhibitors and, of course, networking.
We're in St. Louis for the 2019 APHL Annual Meeting! This episode is a round-up of all the excitement of the first day. It was fascinating and exhausting, just as the annual meeting should be.
Every area of our country is unique in ways that make public health laboratory work vary from one state or locality to another. But just as Alaska is different from the lower-48 states in most ways, their public health lab's work is too. Have you ever considered all the ways it might be different to work in the Alaska state lab in Fairbanks? This episode of Lab Culture reveals some of the many ways in which working in Alaska is unlike anywhere else.
Jayme Parker, manager, Virology Unit, Alaska State Public Health Laboratory (Fairbanks)
Nisha Fowler, microbiologist, Alaska State Public Health Laboratory (Fairbanks)
In the spring of 2018 patients suffering from profuse bleeding swamped emergency rooms in Illinois and Wisconsin. The cause? Synthetic cannabinoids laced with rat poison.
When an outbreak of contaminated synthetic cannabinoids reached Wisconsin in 2018, scientists at the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene (WSLH) rushed to develop the first quantitative method for diagnostic testing of brodifacoum, a powerful anticoagulant used in rat poison. Thanks to their work, patients with brodifacoum poisoning can now be treated with a precisely calibrated dose of vitamin K and that treatment can be ended when it is no longer medically necessary. Previously, physicians had to guess when to end treatment and re-start it if they guessed wrong.
WSLH’s Noel Stanton, Chemical Emergency Response Coordinator, and Bill Krick, an Advanced Chemist in the Chemical Emergency Response Unit, speak with Public Affairs Director Jan Klawitter about the test’s development and the outbreak that made it necessary.
What happens inside a public health lab when a health threat sends it into overdrive? Find out how the North Dakota lab met a surge in West Nile Virus in 2018 in this APHL in Action Lab Culture Extra.
Kevin Libuit went from the APHL-CDC Bioinformatics Fellowship to a contractor to working full-time as a bioinformatician at the Virginia state lab (VA Division of Consolidated Laboratory Services (DCLS)). First he talks about when he discovered bioinformatics as a field and how the fellowship propelled his career. Then Kevin takes the mic and interviews Dr. Denise Toney, director of Virginia DCLS, about the value and growing need for bioinformaticians in public health labs.
APHL Off the Bench (new Facebook group!)
Fifty-five years ago, newborn screening was born. At the time, though, that little heel prick was performed to screen for only one condition: phenylketonuria (PKU). Without early intervention, babies born with PKU faced severe cognitive, behavioral and other neurological disorders. The advent of PKU newborn screening allowed health care providers and families to make critical changes to a baby’s diet to prevent those consequences.
Today, December 3, is PKU Awareness Day. It’s hard to say where newborn screening would be without that first PKU test. And 55 years later, it’s hard to say where newborn screening would be without the families and individuals living with PKU who have shared their stories to convey the value of this simple test. One of those individuals is Kevin Alexander.
Kevin has been a leader in the PKU community simply by sharing his story and his experiences living with PKU. He has spoken at conferences and events around the world, created a video documentary about his life, served as a leader and friend to others living with PKU, and now he shares his voice in a new podcast.
For this PKU Awareness Day, we are sharing Kevin’s podcast, PKU Life Podcast with Kevin Alexander. We are so appreciative of Kevin’s willingness to both share with and listen to those in the newborn screening community. Kevin, thank you for your leadership, friendship and generosity!
Joanne Bartkus, APHL's board president and director of the Public Health Laboratory at the Minnesota Department of Health, sat down with Scott Becker, our executive director, and Gynene Sullivan, editor of Lab Matters magazine, to talk about priorities for the year. Their conversation ranged from informatics to health equity to... snuggling with a bat?!
Scott J. Becker, MS
Executive director, Association Public Health Laboratories
Day 3 of the APHL Annual Meeting was a big one! We had several captivating sessions including this year's Katherine Kelley Distinguished Lecturer, Maryn McKenna, renowned journalist and author. Listen to today's episode to hear a few attendees share what they took away from the day.
A huge component of any APHL Annual Meeting is the exhibit hall. This year we were joined by 68 exhibitors, all of whom were sharing new and interesting products, services and technologies with meeting attendees. In today's episode, we chat with representatives from Roche, Bio-Rad Laboratories and Hologic.
Learn more about APHL's corporate membership and other opportunities.
We are in sunny Pasadena, California for the 2018 APHL Annual Meeting! Here is a little look at what we did on the first day. Stay tuned for updates every day through June 5.
Join the conversation using #APHL on:
The people who work in public health laboratories make a difference in your community daily. In this third episode, members of the Emerging Leader Program cohort 10 sit down with their peers to hear how their public health laboratory careers have made an impact.
ELP cohort 10 members featured in this episode:
Are you thinking about a career in a public health laboratory?
Maybe the saying is true: you don’t know what you had until it is gone. For the families in this episode, the absence of public health laboratories turned their worlds upside down and negatively impacted both the present and future. These families represent us all and highlight the vulnerabilities that would exist if there were no public health laboratories working continuously to keep our communities and populations safe.
This is the second episode in the series produced by members of the Emerging Leader Program cohort 10.
Emerging Infectious Disease Response:
Interviewer: Kate Wainwright, PhD, D(ABMM), HCLD (ABB), MPH, MSN, RN, deputy director, Public Health Protection and Laboratory Services, Indiana State Department of Health
Interviewer: Josh Rowland, MBA, MT(ASCP), manager, Training and Workforce Development, Association of Public Health Laboratories
Expert: Miriam Schachter, PhD, research scientist 3, New Jersey Department of Health, Newborn Screening Laboratory
Interviewer: Samir Patel, PhD, FCCM, (D)ABMM, clinical microbiologist, Public Health Ontario; Toronto, Canada
Expert: Vanessa Allen, MD, MPH, medical microbiologist, chief of microbiology, Public Health Ontario; Toronto, Canada
Narrator: Erin Bowles, B.S., MT(ASCP), Wisconsin Clinical Laboratory Network coordinator and co-biosafety officer, Communicable Disease Division, Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene, School of Medicine and Public Health, University of Wisconsin-Madison
Contributor: Emily Travanty, PhD, scientific director, Laboratory Services Division, Colorado Department of Public Health and Environment
Special thanks to Jim Hermanson at the Wisconsin State Laboratory of Hygiene for his help in recording this episode.
Public health laboratories do a great deal of work that impacts the daily lives of everyone in America. Do you know exactly how much they’re doing? The first episode produced by members of the Emerging Leader Program cohort 10 looks at some of the work performed by public health lab scientists.
(*indicates ELP cohort 10 member)
Water Quality Testing
Interviewer: *Amanda Hughes, program manager of ambient air quality monitoring, State Hygienic Lab at the University of Iowa
Michael Schueller, assistant director of operations, State Hygienic Lab at the University of Iowa
Nancy Hall, program manager, Environmental Microbiology, State Hygienic Lab at the University of Iowa
Interviewer: *Gitika Panicker, microbiologist, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Expert: Laura Bailey, director, Office of Alcohol Testing, Arkansas State Public Health Laboratory
Interviewer: *Shondra Johnson, laboratory information management system administrator, Missouri State Public Health Laboratory
Expert: Jessica Bauer, molecular unit manager, Missouri State Public Health Laboratory
Interviewer: Avi Singh, food lab lead microbiologist, Washington State Public Health Laboratory
Expert: *Denny Russell, bioterrorism coordinator, Washington State Public Health Laboratory
Foodborne Outbreak Linked to Flour
Interviewer: *Rebecca Lindsey, Whole Genome Sequence Project lead, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Heather A. Carleton, bioinformatics team lead, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
Samuel J. Crowe, National Outbreak Reporting System team lead, National Center for Emerging and Zoonotic Infectious Diseases, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
What is the Emerging Leader Program (ELP)? APHL staff, Pandora Ray and Kajari Shah, share how the ELP got its start and how it has progressed. This year's ELP cohort is producing three episodes for Lab Culture that will be released over the coming weeks. Stay tuned!
Every year on March 24, APHL recognizes World TB Day, a day to focus on the valuable work of our members and partners. While tuberculosis is often considered a disease of the past, it is resurging and presenting significant new public health challenges including drug resistance. This World TB Day, we are sharing an insightful conversation between two TB laboratory leaders: Dr. Marie-Claire Rowlinson, assistant laboratory director, Bureau of Public Health Laboratories, Florida Department of Health and Dr. Beverly Metchock, team lead, TB Reference Laboratory, CDC Division of Tuberculosis Elimination.
The Tenacity of Tuberculosis: MDR-TB (blog post)
In November, Scott Becker, APHL’s executive director, traveled to Johannesburg, South Africa for the second APHL International Team Meeting. While he was there, he sat down with five members of the APHL international team to discuss their work and what led them to pursue a career in laboratory science.
The APHL International Team Meeting allows for US-based APHL leadership and global health program staff and consultants working in-country to discuss organizational operations and key programmatic successes and challenges. In most cases, this is the only time during the year that these individuals have an opportunity to meet face-to-face. Participants from Zambia, Zimbabwe, Kenya, Tanzania, Mozambique, Guinea, Sierra Leone and APHL’s US headquarters were all in attendance.
The Biosafety Peer Network (aka the Visiting Biosafety Official Program) links US local, state, and territorial public health laboratories with US-affiliated Pacific Island laboratories to facilitate mentoring and information sharing among biosafety officials and officers. The exchange is intended to foster a collaborative community, advance biosafety and biosecurity in laboratories, and ultimately improve public health laboratory biosafety and biosecurity across the US. So what exactly does the Biosafety Peer Network do? Three members of this network -- Rebecca Sciulli (Hawaii), Paul Fox (Hawaii) and Anne Marie Santos (Guam) sat down for a conversation about their work.
Photo: Paul Fox (left) and Rebecca Sciulli (center) giving Anne Marie Santos (right) a tour of the Hawaii Laboratories Division facility to showcase their biosafety practices, as part of the Peer Network program.
Four years ago, as APHL joined with partners to celebrate the 50th anniversary of routine newborn screening in the United States, newborn screening hit more closely for APHL staff than it ever had before. Michelle Forman, manager of media and Lab Culture host, received a text that her new niece, Sloane, had a positive newborn screen. Her results were out of range for PKU. In this episode, Michelle interviews Sloane's mom, Judith Forman, about that experience.
PulseNet revolutionized foodborne outbreak detection in the United States. What exactly is it? How did it get started? Why was it so significant? And what does the future of foodborne outbreak detection look like? Brian Sauders, molecular microbiologist at the NY State Department of Agriculture and Markets, and Shari Shea, director of food safety at APHL, answer these questions and more.
20 years of PulseNet: Preventing thousands of illnesses and saving millions of dollars (cost-benefit analysis)