Press Release April 14, 2020

Expanded coronavirus testing for Maine hospitals


A technician works inside the clinical genomics laboratory at JAX Genomic Medicine in Farmington, Connecticut. JAX photo by Marie Chao.

The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) to expand coronavirus testing for Maine frontline health care workers and in-patients that need urgent testing

JAX, in collaboration with several Maine regional hospitals, will provide additional coronavirus testing capacity for frontline health care workers and in-patients in the state of Maine.

Headquartered in Bar Harbor, the nonprofit research institution whose mission is to improve human health, is dedicated to helping both the global biomedical community as well as its local communities.  Beginning Tuesday, April 14, JAX will collaborate with hospitals in Maine, including MaineGeneral Medical Center in Augusta, Mount Desert Island (MDI) Hospital in Bar Harbor, and Northern Light Maine Coast Hospital in Ellsworth to augment their existing testing capacity for their health care workers and in-patients who are symptomatic for COVID-19.  Testing for COVID-19 infection is a critical element for pandemic control and has been in short supply.

JAX’s Connecticut-licensed CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments) and CAP accredited laboratory in Farmington, Connecticut tests patient samples for a specific RNA signature unique to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, JAX is adopting advanced technologies and new assay platforms and will make these available to its partnering hospitals and health care facilities.

“We are committed to using our expertise in human genomics and mammalian genetics to help address the coronavirus outbreak as rapidly as possible. It is our humanitarian duty to apply our science for the public good,” said Edison Liu, M.D., president and CEO, The Jackson Laboratory. “That’s why, in addition to the crucial  Coronavirus InformationIntegral to our mission to improve human health, JAX is committed to helping address the coronavirus pandemic as rapidly as possible.COVID-19 mouse model and current research under way at JAX, we are focused on providing important local and regional assistance during this health crisis.  We are proud to be partnering with MaineGeneral Medical Center, Mount Desert Island and Northern Light Maine Coast Hospital to augment their current COVID-19 testing capabilities for health care workers and in-patients. We also hope to soon engage additional hospitals and health care facilities in Maine to meet the critical testing needs of the State.”

JAX’s expanded COVID-19 testing for our clinical partners in Maine builds upon the Laboratory’s recent collaborations with the Connecticut Department of Public Health and more than a dozen Connecticut-based hospitals and health care facilities, including UConn Health. JAX began  Coronavirus InformationIntegral to our mission to improve human health, JAX is committed to helping address the coronavirus pandemic as rapidly as possible.COVID-19 testing on March 23 in its CLIA laboratory at The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine in Farmington, Connecticut and is currently testing 2,000 samples per week with plans to ramp up to 3,500 samples per week by mid-April. A key advantage to the JAX COVID-19 testing system is that it is calibrated to provide a short turn-around time. In this manner, information can be returned to the hospitals quickly.  

“We are proud to partner with our friends at The Jackson Laboratory and appreciate JAX for providing additional COVID-19 testing for hospital health care workers and patients,” said John Ronan, FACHE, president Northern Light Maine Coast and Blue Hill Hospitals. “We commend their work as they battle the COVID-19 pandemic through science and research and learn more about this deadly virus.” 

“Mount Desert Island Hospital is grateful for the opportunity to collaborate with our partners at The Jackson Laboratory to provide COVID-19 testing assistance and support as our community addresses this critical challenge,” said Arthur J Blank, president and CEO, MDI Hospital. “We commend The Jackson Laboratory, our local representatives and employers, as well as our conscientious citizens for their efforts to flatten the curve of this pandemic in our region.  We are very thankful that, so far, these efforts have been successful. We are committed to continuing to work with The Jackson Laboratory and all of our community partners to slow the spread of this disease.”

Individuals seeking to be tested for COVID-19 should not call or come directly to The Jackson Laboratory, but instead call their doctor’s office or local hospital for guidance.

The Jackson Laboratory is an independent, nonprofit biomedical research institution with more than 2,200 employees. Headquartered in Bar Harbor, Maine, it has a National Cancer Institute-designated Cancer Center, a genomic medicine institute in Farmington, Conn., and facilities in Ellsworth, Maine, Sacramento, Calif., and Shanghai, China. Its mission is to discover precise genomic solutions for disease and empower the global biomedical community in the shared quest to improve human health.