Lab Matters Spring 2023 | Page 20


APHL and the Laboratory Response Network

By Tyler Wolford , manager , Emergency Preparedness and Response
A robust laboratory network is critical to effectively respond to known and emerging public health threats . To address this need within the United States , the Laboratory Response Network ( LRN ) was founded in 1999 through a collaboration between the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention ( CDC ), the Federal Bureau of Investigation ( FBI ) and APHL . Its primary objective was to create a system for responding to biological threats , but today it has expanded to form a network of state and local public health , federal , military and international laboratories capable of responding to biological , chemical , radiological and other public health threats such as emerging infectious diseases . Over the years , the Department of Defense ( DoD ) has become a key partner in oversight of the LRN . As a founding partner of the LRN , APHL continues to support and advance the LRN through training , quality improvement initiatives , surge capacity and exercise planning , policy development and fostering of partnerships .
Leading Strategy and Communication
Twice a year , APHL facilitates meetings of the LRN Joint Leadership Committee ( JLC ) to discuss key planning and policy issues surrounding LRN . Established in 2005 as a working group under the APHL Public Health Preparedness and Response ( PHPR ) Committee , LRN JLC is comprised of leadership from CDC , FBI , APHL and DoD . It provides input and guidance to the LRN on operational and policy issues and assists LRN leadership in developing relevant policy recommendations . In addition , the Committee can advocate for national LRN support and can facilitate compliance of LRN policies . The LRN JLC is vital in leading the LRN and executing strategic priorities for the future of the network .
APHL also serves as a gatekeeper for the LRN for Biological Threats Preparedness ( LRN-B ), communicating with laboratories regarding membership and routine operations . APHL ’ s responsibilities include monitoring laboratory membership in the network and adherence to membership policies , assisting members with registration and individual access to the LRN secure information hub , communicating with new laboratory directors on laboratory roles and responsibilities , monitoring select agent permits and providing technical support . APHL , in coordination with CDC LRN program staff , offers rapid support through these communication channels to meet the operational needs of the network .
To further support communication , strategy and partnership building , APHL plans and convenes the biennial LRN National Meeting to provide LRN partners with current information on preparedness collaborations and emerging technologies , share model practices , discuss solutions to ongoing challenges , address training needs and explore the future of the LRN .
Advancing Science and Technology
In 2007 , APHL established the LRN Operational Workgroup ( OPWG ), a subcommittee of the PHPR Committee , to improve the quality of products , services and guidance provided by the CDC LRN Program Office to network members of the LRN-B . OPWG provides feedback and makes recommendations to CDC ’ s Division of Preparedness and Emerging Infections ( DPEI ) Laboratory Preparedness and Response Branch ( LPRB ). These quality improvement initiatives include , but are not limited to :
• Protocol and algorithm revisions
• Assessment of reagents
• Evaluation and onboarding of new assays and technologies
• Challenge panel implementation
• Enhancements to electronic data messaging
• Evaluation of trainings and LRN member satisfaction levels .
OPWG meets virtually on a monthly basis and in-person biannually and serves as an agent of representation , delivering proposals and recommendations as the voice of LRN member laboratories to CDC .
A cornerstone of the LRN-B is its ability to detect biological threat agents rapidly and accurately . To that end , the network is continuously seeking current , most efficient and reliable technologies and assays for its testing needs . APHL , in collaboration with CDC , facilitates method and technology evaluations to verify performance in LRN laboratories , to demonstrate reproducibility and to generate data necessary for assay development studies . This also ensures repeatability of results when systems and test kits are distributed and used within the LRN . As the technology progresses , APHL and CDC continue to collaborate with LRN-B member laboratories on multi-center evaluation studies , training courses and developing guidance for these detection technologies . g
18 LAB MATTERS Spring 2023
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