Images created for videos produced by The Jackson Laboratory to explain the testing process for COVID-19, which involves analyzing the genetic material on the swabs collected from patients. The laboratory’s facility in Connecticut is analyzing some samples in collaboration with clinical organizations. COURTESY OF THE JACKSON JABORATORY

Jackson Lab boosts virus testing capacity

FARMINGTON, Conn. — “This is a team effort,” said Governor Ned Lamont, speaking at a press conference March 19 at The Jackson Laboratory Center for Genomic Medicine, of his state’s response to the pandemic emergency. “And our health care system, the hospitals, biosciences, you’re the quarterback of this team.” 

The Center for Genomic Medicine, a state-accredited clinical diagnostic laboratory, is now testing patient samples for the coronavirus, working with local hospitals and the state Department of Public Health. 

“We view the ability to increase COVID-19 diagnostic testing capabilities as a fundamental responsibility and part of our humanitarian mission to improve human health,” said Charles Lee, director and professor of the center. “This will increase testing capability available here and is vitally important to diagnose affected patients as quickly as possible, which is essential to controlling the pandemic in our communities. 

The Center for Genomic Medicine is not a collection site, he noted; anyone who has been advised to get tested should contact their doctor’s office or local hospital. 

“Our role will be to conduct the actual genetic testing of the samples obtained through our clinical partner organizations,” he said. 

The Jackson Laboratory’s creative team has produced several videos in the last week about the virus, testing process and reasons for social distancing guidelines. 

One of the videos explains the testing process this way: “A cotton swab will be inserted into your nose or throat, only deep enough to reach the membranes where viruses grow. This might be a bit uncomfortable, but there’s no danger or risk to being tested.  

The test is safely packaged, catalogued and sent to a licensed and accredited clinical diagnostic laboratory for processing. Viruses contain genetic material just like us; the laboratory will use a process called polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, to determine if viral genetic material is present.” 

The videos are posted on the laboratory’s YouTube channel, or visit 

Liz Graves

Liz Graves

Reporter at Mount Desert Islander
Former Islander reporter and editor Liz Graves grew up in California and came to Maine as a schooner sailor.

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