Featured Article May 12, 2021

Perfect score for JAX testing

COVID-19 testing, CLIA Lab, The Jackson Laboratory

CAP renews JAX clinical testing lab accreditation

The Jackson Laboratory’s clinical testing lab in Farmington, Conn., has processed an astonishing 1.5 million COVID-19 tests since March 2020. That quantity is backed up by quality: The College of American Pathologists (CAP) has renewed its accreditation of the lab, following an inspection with a perfect score.

“CAP conduct reviews to make sure we meet all standards for the tests we perform,” says Samantha Bossé, project manager of the JAX clinical lab, which is also licensed through the State of Connecticut Department of Public Health and holds a CLIA (Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments) accreditation certificate. “At this review we had zero deficiencies, which we’re very proud of.”

During the CAP accreditation process, inspectors examine the laboratory’s records and quality control of procedures for the preceding two years. CAP inspectors also examine laboratory staff qualifications, equipment, facilities, safety program and record, and overall management.

“People in the general public may not be aware of CAP, but when I bring up our CAP accreditation to my friends who work in science, they are very impressed, because it’s a prestigious honor,” Bossé says.

JAX had established its clinical lab in 2013 at the JAX Genomic Medicine campus in Farmington, Conn., to translate future discoveries in genomic medicine, such as novel biomarkers for cancer, into new diagnostic tests. The lab received its first CLIA certification in 2013 and CAP accreditation in 2014.

When the coronavirus crisis arose in early 2020, JAX stepped in to support the State of Connecticut in providing testing for specific RNA signatures unique to SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. “We knew that we could mobilize our CLIA lab to conduct COVID-19 diagnostic testing,” says  Charles Lee, Ph.D., FACMGThe study of structural genomic variation in human biology, evolution and diseaseCharles Lee, Ph.D., scientific director of JAX Genomic Medicine. “And when we offered our help to the Governor and his team, they accepted it right away.”

UConn Health and Hartford Healthcare were the first two hospital systems to use JAX for COVID-19 testing, but soon other healthcare systems and state institutions, such as the  Helping the living in a pandemicHow COVID-19 testing by the Connecticut Medical Examiner's office supports public health.Connecticut Medical Examiner’s Office and  Protecting West Hartford's first respondersRapid COVID-19 testing at The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine is keeping West Hartford fire, rescue, and EMT teams healthy so they can safely help others.first responders in West Hartford, joined the list.

Griffin Hospital, a 160-bed community hospital in Derby, Conn., employs JAX COVID-19 testing. “The JAX team is literally saving lives,” says Christine Cooper, assistant vice president of diagnostic services for Griffin Health, which operates the hospital. “And we are proud to be their partner in these unprecedented times.”

Besides the Griffin Health system, Bossé works with smaller clinics and local schools. “We have a very diverse reach,” she says. “You know, we like to help everybody.” Bossé ensures that the institutions get the testing supplies they need to keep their populations safe, on one occasion even driving them over herself.

Bossé adds that the CAP accreditation was awarded to a very young clinical testing team. “A lot of the people in the lab are under 25,” she says. “Our supervisors are incredible, and they’re all younger than me, and I’m pretty young myself. I think it’s really cool to know that such a young team is getting this important mission done.”