PO Box 360
Trenton, NJ 08625-0360

For Release:
April 23, 2014

Mary E. O'Dowd, M.P.H.
Commissioner

For Further Information Contact:
Office of Communications
(609) 984-7160

Christie Administration Recognizes Medical Laboratory Professionals Week: April 20-26

New Jersey Health Commissioner Mary E. O'Dowd recognized Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, April 20-26, by commending New Jersey's laboratory professionals who play a vital part in every aspect of healthcare, including medical diagnosis and public health prevention.

"New Jersey's laboratory professionals play a critical role in protecting the public health," said Commissioner O'Dowd. "Professionals who work in hospital and commercial laboratories, as well as the Department's Public Health and Environmental Laboratory (PHEL), perform important tests that help residents manage their chronic diseases, ensure our drinking and recreational water is safe, detect and report disease outbreaks, and work closely with local, state and federal agencies in responding to bioterrorism."

Recognizing that New Jersey's laboratory professionals are vital members of the healthcare system and public health team, Governor Chris Christie issued a proclamation declaring April 20-26 as Medical Laboratory Professionals Week and New Jersey residents to support the vital services provided by laboratory professionals.

Commissioner O'Dowd will present the proclamation to American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science of New Jersey President-Elect Cynthia Dixey at a day-long conference and expo that is of New Jersey's activities recognizing Medical Laboratories Professionals Week. The expo will be held at the National Convention Center in East Windsor.

The PHEL is also hosting a career day on May 2 for New Jersey college students to increase awareness of laboratory careers in public and private sectors.

Each year, PHEL conducts more than 5 million tests for a wide range of microbial and metabolic diseases and chemical contaminants on a variety of environmental and clinical samples. PHEL data is generated in close collaboration with epidemiologists, local health officials and multiple state agencies, federal partners and healthcare providers who use the laboratory information to protect the public.

Some of the highlights of PHEL's work include:

  • The Newborn Screening Program annually conducts more than 4 million laboratory tests for metabolic and genetic disorders on every child born in the state.
  • The Radio Analytical and Inorganic Laboratories work with the state Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to test the state's drinking water and the waters of Barnegat Bay to support Governor Christie's initiative to maintain this important waterway.
  • The Biothreat Response Laboratory works with federal and state law enforcement agencies and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to maintain operation of New Jersey Biological Safety Level 3 (BSL3) capabilities to test for potential biological agents that could be used in terrorist attacks. This includes agents such as plague, anthrax and ricin.
  • The Microbiology Laboratory works with the Department's Communicable Disease Services to develop viral surveillance data on diseases such as influenza and West Nile Virus. Staff also tests food and clinical specimens in support of infectious disease outbreak investigations.

###