Press Release May 12, 2020

JAX to provide widescale COVID-19 testing in Connecticut

Working in the lab at The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic MedicineScientist working in a laboratory at The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine. JAX photo by Tiffany Laufer.

The Jackson Laboratory (JAX), in partnership with the State of Connecticut, announced today that it is expanding its COVID-19 testing capacity from 550 tests per day to 20,000 tests per day, between now and early July, for Connecticut residents.

This increased capacity builds upon the Laboratory’s ongoing COVID-19 testing collaborations with the Connecticut Department of Public Health and more than 30 Connecticut-based hospitals and health care facilities. In addition to continuing to run tests for symptomatic patients and health care providers, JAX will now provide testing that will enable hospitals to resume surgeries and procedures that have been postponed, and additional testing to support Governor Lamont’s reopening strategy.

“The Jackson Laboratory stepped up from the beginning to assist our state with testing capacity and we are incredibly fortunate to have such a great partner with our state. This latest partnership will increase testing capacity, providing greater access to impacted communities where we need to be targeting our efforts,” said Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont.

The first phase of this new testing capacity will focus on key cohorts of at-risk and vulnerable populations in Connecticut, including nursing home residents, patients whose surgeries have been placed on hold, first responders, State and municipal employees, and urban high-risk and low-income groups.

“The Jackson Laboratory is committed to helping resolve the coronavirus outbreak as rapidly as possible. Our expertise in human genomics and mammalian genetics positions us to partner with other experts in infrastructure, academia, business, and government to quickly deal with the evolving public health crisis caused by the coronavirus pandemic,” said  Edison Liu, M.D.Conducts research focused on the functional genomics of breast cancer through an exploration of the entire genomic space.Edison T. Liu, M.D. , president and CEO of The Jackson Laboratory. “We are immensely proud to provide this critical expanded testing for the State of Connecticut. This is in direct alignment with the Laboratory’s nonprofit humanitarian mission and we consider it our duty as a member of the Connecticut community to contribute in this time of need.”

JAX’s Connecticut-licensed CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments) and CAP-accredited laboratory in Farmington, Connecticut tests patient specimens for specific RNA signatures unique to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

“We were extremely pleased to be able to mobilize our CLIA lab to conduct COVID-19 testing in mid-March. Now, because of our partnership with the State of Connecticut, we have the unique opportunity to dramatically increase our testing capacity while ensuring continued 24-hour turnaround time in order to help the State of Connecticut’s most vulnerable populations, ” said Auro Nair, Ph.D.Responsible for all clinical and scientific research products & services provided to internal researchers at The Jackson Laboratory and external researchers worldwide.Auro Nair, Ph.D. , executive vice president of The Jackson Laboratory and president of JAX® Mice, Clinical and Research Services.

JAX had established its CLIA-certified lab in 2013 to translate future discoveries in genomic medicine, such as novel biomarkers for cancer, into new tests. To reach the volume testing capacity of 20,000 samples per day, the Laboratory will leverage the commitment and expertise of JAX senior leadership and current CLIA Laboratory personnel, the addition of automated equipment, and trained technicians, and by leveraging its strong supplier relationships.

The nonprofit’s ability to meet Connecticut’s testing needs includes a valuable partnership with UConn Health’s leadership and IT teams, who have provided tremendous support in integrating health records with other institutions using their Epic system.

JAX began COVID-19 testing on March 24 and currently has the capacity to test 3,500 samples per week. The Laboratory also recently announced a collaboration with the Town of West Hartford to analyze COVID-19 tests from the town’s first responders.

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