CDC’s Global Health Laboratory Science in Action
CDC’s Global Health Laboratory Science in Action
Laboratory science is a pillar of strong public health in action. CDC Center for Global Health laboratorians develop gold-standard tests, and our laboratories serve as reference centers in the United States and across the globe.
What do CDC’s global laboratories do?
CDC’s Center for Global Health laboratories serve as worldwide reference laboratories for:
- Surveillance, diagnosis, and drug-resistance testing of HIV/AIDS and associated opportunistic infections (e.g., tuberculosis).
- Diagnosis of parasitic diseases, conducting surveillance for malaria drug resistance, monitoring the quality of antimalarial drugs, and evaluating insecticide resistance among mosquitos that can carry malaria.
CDC’s global laboratory science work includes:
- Conducting malaria surveillance and antimalarial resistance testing, and developing malaria diagnostic tests through CDC’s Malaria Branch laboratory programs
- Identifying parasites; consulting on parasitic infection diagnoses via telemedicine; and conducting research on parasitic lifecycles, infections, and treatments through CDC’s Parasitic Diseases Branch laboratory programs
- Maintaining the CDC insectary where scientists study mosquitos and their behavior to fight mosquito-borne illnesses like malaria and the Zika, dengue, and yellow fever viruses
- Conducting cutting-edge HIV and tuberculosis research
Why is global laboratory science important?
CDC’s global laboratory expertise protects Americans and U.S. interests from emerging health threats at home and overseas. Safe and effective laboratories, efficient and accurate testing, and innovative health technologies are critical components of global health security preparedness.
Laboratory scientists at the Center for Global Health also help over 50 countries by working directly with the Ministries of Health to support outbreak response, laboratory systems, and pathogen discovery, as well as, training, surveillance and the building of core laboratory capacities in support of the International Health Regulations. In addition, collaborating with host countries to implement these activities promotes public health diplomacy.
Our laboratory scientists:
- Identify infectious organisms, parasites, and other health threats
- Develop and use tests for diseases in the field
- Monitor the health of communities
- Provide doctors, epidemiologists, and other public health heroes with the data and expertise needed to prevent, detect, and respond to diseases that threaten America and the world
How does CDC support global laboratory science?
Nearly 70% of countries are underprepared to detect and respond to health emergencies. To improve global health security, countries need safe laboratories, well-trained technicians and scientists, effective and efficient testing, and other key resources for strong laboratory systems. CDC’s laboratory experts work on technological innovations that strengthen global laboratories; some of their groundbreaking work includes:
- Development of an assay that can diagnose HIV infection, identify the type of HIV, and distinguish long-term from recent infection, all in one test. Combining these multiple tests into one reduces costs and labor and could potentially diagnose other diseases in the same test.
- Development and validation of the multiplex immunoassay, which detects antibodies for more than 35 viral, bacterial, and parasitic diseases and assesses vaccination coverage levels using a single small blood sample. Since late 2017, CDC has used the multiplex immunoassay to conduct integrated serosurveillance for infectious diseases in large-scale pilots in Brazil, Mexico, Paraguay, Thailand, and the United States.
- Evaluation of the feasibility and acceptability of using novel digital microfluidics to detect measles and rubella in the field. This new ‘point-of-care’ test should provide immediate confirmation from a drop of blood that a suspected measles case is indeed the real thing. The technology is simple and compact (<5kg), is low-cost (<$1 per chip), and can detect infection and immunity in about an hour. Once implemented, this tool can help health officials rapidly identify, respond to, and contain measles outbreaks.
CDC’s Global Laboratory Science and Innovation in the News
- Press Release: CDC Receives Designation as PAHO/WHO Collaborating Centre for Biosafety and Biosecurity
Safe and effective laboratories are a key line of defense in protecting the health, safety and security of Americans and U.S. interests worldwide. The Pan American Health Organization/World Health Organization (PAHO/WHO) has designated the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Center for Global Health as a PAHO/WHO Collaborating Centre for Biosafety and Biosecurity under WHO’s reference number USA-448.