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No. 2, 2012

LABORATORY BRANCH UPDATE

Diagnostic Mycobacteriology Course held at CDC Roybal Campus April 24–27, 2012

During April 24–27, 2012, the Diagnostic Mycobacteriology Course brought 20 public health laboratorians from across the United States and Puerto Rico to CDC’s Roybal Campus. This course is a joint effort of DTBE’s Laboratory Branch (LB) and the Association of Public Health Laboratory’s National Laboratory Training Network (NLTN).

Students and faculty of the Diagnostic Mycobacteriology CourseThe Diagnostic Course featured didactic sessions, as well as hands-on laboratory experience. The students heard from both internal (CDC) and external subject matter experts regarding laboratory best practices for TB. In addition, DTBE Director Dr. Kenneth Castro gave participants a TB epidemiologic overview, and Branch Chief Dr. Michael Iademarco addressed the students and acknowledged their dedication to public health service. Lectures included an overview of new mycobacteriology testing methods; best practices for specimen processing and culture techniques; genotyping; testing for drug susceptibility; biosafety; performance monitoring; validation of new tests; molecular assays; and understanding the benefits and limitations of current testing procedures. The attendees spent time in the training laboratory learning the ins and outs of reading drug-susceptibility test (DST) results using indirect agar proportion and pyrosequencing assays, in addition to techniques for DST using microbroth dilution plates for testing susceptibility to first- and second-line drugs. In the classroom, students even enjoyed testing their biosafety knowledge with a Jeopardy© game!

Perhaps the most valuable aspect of the 4-day program was the chance for all participants to share stories, case studies, current testing algorithms, and best practices and to network with their peers to learn what others are doing in the world of TB diagnostics. Students came away with answers to challenging situations, resources to help in their laboratory settings, and shared solutions to common problems. A few lucky students received door prizes, including the coveted “TB Soap” (see Joan Mangan’s article on “TB Soap” in this issue of TB Notes).

Participants enjoyed their experiences and gave high marks to the course. Roy Tu’ua, from the Missouri Public Health Laboratory, stated afterwards, “The Diagnostic Workshop was really awesome. I enjoyed every minute of the workshop.” And Emily Velez-Chua of the Ohio Dept. of Health Laboratory wrote “…The Lab hands-on was excellent… the course was a confirmation that we are on the right path and also improving where we need change.” The Laboratory Capacity Team (LCT) will review all evaluations submitted by attendees and incorporate changes and updates to improve the course in the future. Sponsoring the Diagnostic Mycobacteriology Course on an annual basis is a sustaining commitment of the LCT. If you or your laboratory colleagues were not able to attend this year’s session, look for this course to be repeated in the future.

External faculty acknowledgements go to Eileen Burd (Emory University Hospital), Tanya Halse (New York State Wadsworth Center), and Ken Jost (Texas Department of Health Services). The DTBE/LB faculty lead was Angela Starks; other LB faculty members consisted of Lois Diem, Jeff Driscoll, Beverly Metchock, David Sikes, Tracy Dalton, Frances Tyrrell, and Lauren Cowan, as well as Brandi Limbago of DHQP/NCEZID. Acknowledgments also go to other members of the Laboratory Branch: Panyotta Delinois, Paige Gupta, Denise Hartline, Jameelah Franklin, and Allison Lentz. The course organizers were Judy Gaither, Michael Vick, Stephanie Johnston, and Rebecca Bandea of CDC, and Monet King and Pam Moleta of NLTN. Vendor support was provided by Qiagen.

—Submitted by Frances Tyrrell, MPH, MT (ASCP)
Div of TB Elimination

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