When COVID-19 hit Connecticut in early 2020, The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) moved quickly to provide fast, accurate testing for doctors, nurses, first responders, critical care workers and others on the front lines of the pandemic. The Hartford Business Journal has recognized JAX among its 2020 Health Care Heroes.
The annual awards salute outstanding leaders—organizations and individuals—in the healthcare industry whose efforts to help others exemplify the word “hero.” JAX, a nonprofit biomedical research institution with a genomic medicine facility in Farmington, Conn., was awarded in the Innovation category, recognizing an organization that has made a positive advancement in medical care or medical science.
“We felt it was our responsibility to help,” said JAX President and CEO , accepting the award via video for the Health Care Heroes virtual presentation. “So our teams quickly assembled to focus their expertise in human genomics and mammalian genetics to support this public health crisis.” JAX recently reported its 500,000th COVID-19 test, he said, which supports approximately 20 percent of Connecticut's tested populations.
Liu also noted that the JAX headquarters campus in Bar Harbor, Maine, have been generating essential mouse models that researchers in Connecticut and around the world are using to develop COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. JAX researchers are studying the immune response to the virus, determining disease susceptibility and progression in patients, and investigating the specific mechanisms of coronavirus infection to build a solid foundation for drug and vaccine development.
“I am honored to accept the award for advancement in healthcare innovation, on behalf of all my colleagues at JAX,” Liu said, and congratulated all the Health Care Heroes of 2020.
JAX Genomic Medicine had established its CLIA-certified lab in 2013 to translate future discoveries in genomic medicine, such as novel biomarkers for cancer, into new diagnostic tests. In March 2020, JAX mobilized the lab to conduct COVID-19 diagnostic testing and offered testing help to Connecticut Governor Ned Lamont. Since then, JAX has partnered with more than 80 institutions in Connecticut and Maine to provide quick-turnaround COVID-19 testing, including the Hartford HealthCare system, Connecticut Children’s, Griffin Hospital and West Hartford first responders.