Hybrid 12th National Conference on Laboratory Aspects of Tuberculosis Convened
By Sarah Buss , PhD , D ( ABMM ), manager , HHST
After the COVID-19-driven
quarantines of 2020 and 2021 , APHL was thrilled to host the hybrid 12th National Conference on Laboratory Aspects of Tuberculosis ( TB ) July 12 – 14 . Kimberlee Musser , PhD , clinical director of the Wadsworth Center ’ s David Axelrod Institute
welcomed attendees both in person and virtually for the first time in the meeting ’ s history .
Keynote speaker Lisa Armitage , MD , PhD , medical consultant at the Heartland National TB Center
and Associate Professor of Medicine and Pediatrics at the University of Texas Health Sciences Center
, quickly set the tone by professing “ shameless affection ” for her state TB laboratory . She delivered an informative session highlighting the importance of new TB treatment regimens and the drug susceptibility tests that inform their use . On the forefront of this work , the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
( CDC ) and APHL member laboratories presented on new susceptibility testing methods , including custom Sensititre™ panels , phenotypic tests for new drugs , and a variety of sequencing-based approaches for detection of Mycobacterium tuberculosis
Daniela Cirillo MD , PhD , head of the Emerging Bacterial Pathogens Unit at the San Raffaele Scientific Institute
and director of the World Health Organization Collaborating Centre in Tuberculosis Laboratory Strengthening in Milan , Italy , provided a European perspective and explained the challenges associated with establishing the various reference ranges ( i . e ., clinical breakpoints , epidemiological cutoffs and critical concentrations ) required for standardization of phenotypic susceptibility tests . Later , difficulties associated with patient adherence to the standard treatment regimens and the importance of new regimens were highlighted by tuberculosis survivor Charet Wynn . Always a crowd
Yvette Vergnetti was honored with the On the Front Lines of TB Testing Award
favorite , case study presentations further emphasized the importance of delivering antimicrobial susceptibility testing data to providers , delved into challenges associated with molecular detection of TB , and gave attendees their first glance into a multi-state TB outbreak .
Sessions also drew on the challenges TB laboratories faced during the pandemic . With burnout an unfortunate reality in public health laboratories , APHL ’ s Chief Learning Officer Christine Bean , PhD , MBA , MT ( ASCP ) highlighted resources available for building and retaining a sustainable workforce and CDC ’ s Associate Director for Human Capital and Performance Mark Pope PhD , LPC , SPHR , CBT presented a lesson in self-care . Continuity of operations ( COOP ) during real-world interruption of service events was addressed by a panel of CDC and APHL member laboratorians who shared lessons learned when investigating , developing and implementing COOPs .
On Day 2 , the awards ceremony was held , and it was a highlight for both in-person and virtual attendees . Yvette Vergnetti from the Alaska State Public Health
was recognized for significant contributions to the advancement of TB testing with the On the Front Lines of TB Testing award . The National Tuberculosis Controllers Association ( NTCA ) honored Tanya Halse , Wadsworth Center , with the Ed Desmond TB Laboratorian Award for her exemplary service , dedication and leadership . Denise Dunbar ( retired ) from the Texas Department of State Health Services
, virtually received the Tuberculosis Lifetime Achievement Award in recognition of a lifetime of
Kimberlee Musser ( left ) and Marie Claire Rowlinson ( right ) both from the Wadsworth Center watched as the NTCA honored Tanya Halse ( center ), Wadsworth Center , with the Ed Desmond TB Laboratorian Award
distinguished service , leadership and excellence to the field of TB diagnostics and training .
The meeting closed with a deeper look into a few of 2021 ’ s more notable TB incidents . The efforts of the US Department of Defense to screen and treat over 80,000 Afghan nationals during Operation Allies Welcome was described , and the unusual multi-state TB outbreak linked to bone allograft material was detailed from state and national health department perspectives . The session served to , once again , remind attendees of the importance of their work . g
20 LAB MATTERS Winter 2022