Press Release March 19, 2020 Updated May 11, 2020 at 1:27 PM

The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine to offer coronavirus testing in Connecticut

The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine, in partnership with the Connecticut Department of Public Health, UConn Health and Hartford HealthCare, will provide additional coronavirus testing capacity for Connecticut residents

Integral to its mission to improve human health, The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) is committed to helping address the coronavirus outbreak as rapidly as possible. To support the quickly evolving public health crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic, The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine (JAX-GM), located in Farmington, Connecticut, is partnering with the Connecticut Department of Public Health (DPH), UConn Health and Hartford HealthCare to provide the State with significant additional coronavirus testing capacity. 

JAX-GM will utilize its expertise in genomic solutions and its Connecticut-licensed CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments) and CAP accredited laboratory to test patient samples for a specific RNA signature unique to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. JAX’s participation in this effort will enable DPH to quickly ramp up its testing capabilities.

When the testing program began, JAX-GM had the staffing and equipment necessary to process up to 150 samples per day. As of May 11, JAX -GM was able to increase its capacity to more than 3,500 tests per week, and has now processed more than 10,000 samples.

This additional testing capacity will both allow the Department of Public Health to diagnose patients who have the virus, and will allow researchers to learn more about the virus for broader epidemiological purposes. Ultimately, this will enable the state of Connecticut to test more people, faster.  

“The Jackson Laboratory is honored to be a part of the State of Connecticut’s coordinated response to the coronavirus pandemic,” Charles Lee, Ph.D., FACMGThe study of structural genomic variation in human biology, evolution and diseaseCharles Lee, Ph.D., FACMG , director and professor, The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine, said. “As a nonprofit biomedical research institute, The Jackson Laboratory has been a leader in research to improve human health for more than 90 years. We view our participation in this unprecedented health crisis – in this case by using our clinical laboratory in Farmington for COVID-19 testing – as our humanitarian duty. At our Bar Harbor, Maine location, we are also producing special mouse models that can be used for COVID-19 research in the hope of providing the scientific community with a critical resource needed to stem the current outbreak.”

“Here in Connecticut, we are doing everything we can to protect our residents from the spread of coronavirus while ensuring our testing capabilities help prevent further spread of the virus,” Governor Lamont said. “Today’s partnership with The Jackson Laboratory, the Department of Public Health, UConn Health and Hartford HealthCare will provide testing at a time when we need it most. By having an increased testing capacity at our disposal, Connecticut will be able to be more proactive against this illness. This collaborative effort is also a reminder that we are all in this together and so many are stepping up in our state in a big way.”

JAX-GM expects to start receiving samples and begin the testing the week of Monday, March 23.

“We are thrilled that The Jackson Laboratory will soon be offering coronavirus testing on UConn Health’s campus,” Andrew Agwunobi, M.D., CEO, UConn Health and EVP for Health Affairs, said. “Having JAX-GM as a partner in the effort to detect and combat COVID-19 is an enormous asset to the State of Connecticut as it battles this pandemic. The additional testing capacity is critically needed.”

“This is an important step forward as we come together to focus on the crisis in front of us,” Ajay Kumar, M.D., EVP and Chief Clinical Officer, Hartford HealthCare, said. “We are incredibly thankful to the governor and his administration’s partnership as we create this new collaboration across the state. Increased testing is much needed in our state. Hartford HealthCare is proud to partner with JAX to better support our community in its time of need.”

Learn more about the coronavirus and how JAX is lending its expertise in human genomics and mammalian genetics to stem the outbreak.