Lab Matters Winter 2017 | Page 4

president ' s message

Hau`oli Makahiki Hou ! Or , in English , Happy New Year !

2016 may be remembered for nasty campaigns and “ fake news ;” let ’ s hope 2017 will be decidedly more factual .

Easy for me to say — I ’ m a lab guy . Government laboratory practice exemplifies evidence-based work ; however , our community of practice , and public health in general , have not always been “ front and center ” to enthusiastically communicate the value of this work . It is time to do so . APHL members must invigorate current partners ( and find new ones ) in order to craft messages that will rise above the “ noise ” and impact new groups of decision-makers that are just now being formed .

At the same time , we must not underestimate our resiliency and capacity to manage change as circumstances change . Our communities look to public health laboratory scientists for leadership , so this is not the time to be paralyzed with uncertainty . We need to leverage APHL ’ s vision of “ a healthier world through quality laboratory systems ” by providing leadership , and we need to influence the people , policy and procedures throughout our spheres of influence , not just those we directly supervise . Influencing people can be as big as testifying before the legislature , or as ( seemingly ) small as judging a science fair .
So I think laboratory science leadership is pretty important , both as a laboratory director and as APHL ’ s president . Here are a couple more of my priorities for 2017 :
Coordinated & Integrated Zika Testing
Although we ’ ve been here before ( West Nile Virus , pandemic H1N1 , norovirus , etc .), the Zika virus outbreak is unique in its own right . Most of the infected don ’ t get sick , yet the virus can seriously harm an unborn child . It ’ s mosquito-borne and sexually-transmitted . Cross-reactivity with other flaviviruses in serological tests disrupts screening and confuses confirmation . Consequently , a successful response requires corporate , clinical and public health coordination and integration .
Specifically , we need to identify barriers to timely case identification and specimen transport ( pre-analytic ) and to meaningful results delivery ( post-analytic ). We need to continue to improve Zika algorithms and keep everyone informed of those changes . We need to educate corporate test developers about testing requirements , so they can make new assays available to our clinical partners . We need to continue to monitor test performance , ensure timely public health reporting and assure access to confirmatory services .
So think of the Zika response as a relay race . Before passing the baton over to the next “ runner ,” we need to make sure it is firmly in their hands before we let go . APHL is committed to helping with this ; I certainly am as president .
Smarter Antimicrobic Therapy
Speaking of races , the bugs seem to be beating the drugs . Lab folks may not control prescriptions , but we need to get in the game with providers , epidemiologists , pharmacists , clinical labs and manufacturers to reassert humanity ’ s dominance over the single-cell super bugs . We need to get advanced detection and characterization methodologies validated to improve antibiotic awareness that can inform decisions for individuals and populations . The ELC cooperative agreements greatly expanded resources to help address resistance , but funding is more uncertain under the new administration ( remember , don ’ t get paralyzed ). In 2017 , the Antimicrobial Resistance Laboratory Network will begin providing services , and the new APHL / CDC Antimicrobial Resistance Fellowship will welcome its first cohort master ’ s and doctoral level graduates . These are important steps , and I look forward to working with APHL staff and members on these , and the many other issues facing our little corner of the universe .
– A . Christian Whelen , PhD , D ( ABMM ), president
LAB MATTERS Winter 2017
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