Donation expands UC Health testing capabilities for COVID-19

CINCINNATI – April 2, 2020  A new gift to UC Health from a private foundation will help expand the capacity and speed of testing for COVID-19 across the region’s academic healthcare system.

Through the University of Cincinnati Foundation, the anonymous donor has funded the purchase of two pieces of equipment for the UC Health Precision Medicine Laboratory, which can be put to immediate use in accelerating in-house testing for the novel coronavirus responsible for the global pandemic.

Two machines and their associated peripherals at a value of $170,000, as well a quantity of test kits for an additional $30,000, have been purchased and are en route to arrive at UC Medical Center within the next two weeks.

“We are incredibly grateful for the generosity and timing of this donation. These donors—as well as many others who have stepped up to show their support across the community in recent weeks—are helping us to collectively work through this public health event as a region,” said UC Health President and CEO Richard P. Lofgren, MD. “We are working to grow our capacity to test for COVID-19 within our laboratories, and as testing supplies and capacity increase, we intend to be able to provide access to testing to our larger community.”

Dani Zander, MD, chief of pathology and laboratory medicine for UC Health and MacKenzie Chair and Professor of Pathology at the UC College of Medicine, says the gift allowed for the purchase of the GenMark ePlex® and the KingFisher™ extraction instruments and associated test kits for the UC Health Lab, which recently began testing for COVID-19. The ePlex is made by GenMark Diagnostics, Inc., Carlsbad, California, while the KingFisher is made by ThermoFisher Scientific Inc., Waltham, Massachusetts.

“With the purchase and arrival of these machines, paired with the recent capabilities of our in-house instruments, we should be able to more than quadruple the number of COVID-19 tests that we can process in one day,” said Dr. Zander, noting that the typical turnaround time for a test result is one to three days.

“Also, with the GenMark, we will have the ability to run a rapid test for COVID-19, that will take about 90 minutes for a positive or negative result. This helps doctors promptly make informed decisions about care for those patients who are already hospitalized or planning to have procedures done and helps conserve personal protective equipment by allowing us to use these resources when people truly need it.”

Aside from testing for COVID-19, this equipment can be used for other testing purposes in the future, such as performing cancer genotyping that is important for determining cancer treatment.

“We truly appreciate the continued wonderful support from our community,” said Andrew Filak Jr., MD, senior vice president for health affairs and Christian R. Holmes Professor and Dean of the College of Medicine. “These technologies will help to improve care, protect both patients and the medical staff through expanded and speedier testing, and be valuable tools for our faculty and clinicians.”

The testing will be conducted at the UC Health Precision Medicine Laboratory located at the UC Medical Center.

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