About the Infectious Disease Laboratory
The Infectious Disease Laboratory, a Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act (CLIA) certified facility, occupies approximately 10,200 square feet of laboratory space and is composed of five laboratory units: Enterics, Microbiology, Sequencing and Bioinformatics, Emergency Preparedness and Response and Virology/Serology.
The Enterics Laboratory performs tests to identify and characterize pathogens that can cause diarrhea. These tests include nucleic acid amplification, Sanger sequencing, next-generation sequencing and pulsed-field gel electrophoresis (PFGE) to find clusters of enteric pathogens that may be associated with an outbreak. The PFGE lab serves as the North Central Regional PulseNet Laboratory.
The Microbiology Laboratory provides a wide range of diagnostic, reference and surveillance testing along with consulting services in the areas of bacteriology, mycology, mycobacteriology, and parasitology and antimicrobial susceptibility testing. Classical microbiologic protocols are supplemented with advanced molecular methods. The microbiology laboratory also serves as the State Reference Laboratory for Laboratory Response Network. Most microbiology laboratory testing is performed in collaboration with corresponding MDH epidemiology programs.
Sequencing and Bioinformatics
The Sequencing and Bioinfomatics Laboratory focuses on adapting cutting-edge genomic technology, including high-throughput sequencing, long-read sequencing, high-performance/cloud computing, and bioinformatics to investigate the genomes of human infectious disease causing organisms. In order to better serve the interests of public health, we adapt innovative research products into CLIA-validated laboratory testing assays, to improve infectious disease pathogen characterization, surveillance, antimicrobial resistance identification and disease outbreak detection. As a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Advanced Molecular Detection (AMD) Regional Training Laboratory, Regional Bioinformatics Resource laboratory, and co-founder of the State Public Health Laboratory Bioinformatics (StaPH-B) organization, the staff members of the Sequencing and Bioinformatics Unit are dedicated to building the bioinformatics infrastructure of the central US and developing the sequencing/bioinformatics workforce at state, regional and national levels.
The Virology Laboratory performs testing to detect evidence of viral infection. This includes testing for respiratory viruses, vaccine preventable viruses, rash and lesion viruses as well as arboviruses. Testing methodology includes viral culture, direct serologic detection of viruses by enzyme immunoassay (EIA) and immunofluorescence assays (IFA), and molecular detection. This laboratory performs diagnostic testing for Measles, Mumps and also monitors respiratory illness in the State with the ability to detect a change in illness patterns. This lab also performs rabies testing for Minnesota, in partnership with the Vets Diagnostic Lab (VDL) and the Board of Animal Health.
Emergency Preparedness and Response
The Emergency Preparedness and Response Laboratory (EPR) unit serves as a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Laboratory Response Network (LRN) laboratory. Staff from this unit provide statewide diagnostic and reference testing for the agents of highest concern and participate in test development studies in collaboration with the CDC. They also provide training to Sentinel level laboratories, clinical laboratories on the front lines of disease detection, on the early detection and identification of biological agents of concern. Outreach efforts include guidance on new and emerging pathogens, on-site bioterrorism workshops, and training on biosafety and packaging and shipping.