COVID-19 Testing Lab Moving to GLRC

by Kelley Christensen, University Marketing and Communications

The Michigan Tech COVID-19 Testing Lab is relocating from the Dow building to the Great Lakes Research Center (GLRC) in July.

The lab is run at the biosafety level 2 in compliance with CDC recommendations and uses certified biological safety cabinets to contain the COVID-19 virus if it is present in a patient sample. This is the same level of safety that is taken in a hospital lab. The lab worked closely with the state of Michigan to develop testing protocols and appropriate safety measures, including personal protective equipment (PPE) and engineering controls. Lab staff is provided with all the needed PPE for the work. All precautions are being taken to ensure no one contracts COVID-19 while working in the lab and no one risks exposure to the virus by working in the same building or going near the laboratory.

The testing lab, which began running samples in mid-April, was originally located in a classroom and a research lab in Dow. Initially, the lab team thought they would only be operating for a couple of months. According to Dave Reed, Vice President for research, the lab’s continuation into the fall semester is part of the reason for the move.

“As it became clear that if we are going to have students on campus in the fall, we need to be able to do surveillance sampling, it became clear that we needed a more permanent location and the classroom, especially, needed to be available for classes in the fall,” said Reed.

As of mid-June, the lab has run more than 1,200 samples, averaging between 40-70 tests per day, five days per week. The lab is assisting western and central Upper Peninsula health care providers with running samples.

Dr. Cary Gottlieb, a pathologist from OSF St. Francis Hospital in Escanaba, is the lab director. The technical leads are Caryn Heldt (ChE) and David Dixon (VPR), and the team includes Steve Techtmann (BioSci), Ebenezer Tumban (BioSci), Kristin Brzeski (CFRES) and Carsten Kulheim (CFRES), with support from Karyn Fay (BioSci), Claire Danielson (BioSci), Brigitte Morin (BioSci), Sean Kirkpatrick (BioMed), Guiliang Tang (BioSci), Jennifer Sanders (CFRES) and Julie Seppala (FSO).

For more information, visit the Michigan Tech’s COVID-19 Testing Lab web page or email Caryn Heldt or David Dixon.