July 18, 2022 Intelligence: Late-Breaking Lab News

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Given that monkeypox cases continue to rise, the federal government likewise is ramping up its response. In June, the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) began shipping monkeypox tests to five commercial laboratories: Aegis Science, Labcorp, Mayo Clinic Laboratories, Quest Diagnostics, and Sonic Healthcare. The government has also been building up its supply of vaccine as part of a national response plan. 

MORE ON: Monkeypox Testing

The following commercial labs began testing for monkeypox in July, as announced by the CDC:

  • Mayo, Labcorp, and Aegis each have the capacity to perform 10,000 tests per week. 
  • Quest expects to be able to test up to 30,000 specimens weekly by the end of July.

As of July 15, the CDC reported 1,814 monkeypox cases in the country across 41 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, D.C. That’s up significantly from just June 1, when 19 monkeypox cases had been detected in the U.S.

NEW PUBLIC HEALTH LAB COMING IN NYC

New York City has begun construction on a replacement for its Public Health Laboratory. The project, which comes with a price tag of $454 million, will bring a 10-story, modern laboratory to the city’s Harlem neighborhood, across the street from Harlem Hospital, according to NYC.gov. The city’s current public health lab has been operating since the 1960s.

MACHINE LEARNING ASKS ABOUT LAB TEST RESULTS 

Researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) are working to build a database of questions that physicians typically ask when reviewing health records, with the hope of training a machine-learning model to ask similar questions. Researchers found that most follow-up questions asked by physicians focused on symptoms, treatments, or the patient’s diagnostic test results, according to MIT. Early results show that the model asked high-quality questions, as compared to questions from medical experts, more than 60% of the time. 

TRANSITIONS

The University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center in Houston named Donna Hansel, MD, PhD, as new Division Head of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine starting Sept. 12. She currently serves as Chair of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine at Oregon Health and Science University in Portland, Ore. She previously was Chief of the Division of Anatomic Pathology at the University of California San Diego School of Medicine and Associate Professor of Anatomic Pathology at Cleveland Clinic.

That’s all the insider intelligence for this report. Look for the next briefing on Monday, August 8, 2022.

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