Baylor launches lab to test students and staff

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WACO, Texas – Baylor University has announced it has opened its own on-site COVID-19 testing lab and research facility.

The project is in partnership with My Labs Direct – and one of the major reasons the lab came to Waco is a recommendation from the Bears’ football coaching staff.

“Joey McGuire contacted me and said, ‘Hey Justin, do you guys have a laboratory that can do this COVID testing?,'” says My Labs Direct CEO Justin Simons. “I was like, ‘Absolutely. We’re well in position to help you.”

The multi-million dollar lab is one of the largest testing labs of its kind owned by a university with no affiliated medical school, and addresses the University’s ongoing need to conduct extensive coronavirus testing of its faculty, staff, and students.

After initially testing the athletic programs and doing random student testing in the fall, the lab and the university are committed to testing 100 percent of the student population every week this semester.

“There’s a lot of asymptomatic carriers in this kind of population,” Simons said. “It’s critically important to be able to test and, really, wide scope testing around the campus is so important to monitor, and ultimately eradicate infection on a campus.”

The lab is set up at the Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative (BRIC Center) and will allow the University to operate at least three on-campus testing sites with the capacity to conduct up to 150,000 diagnostic tests from January through May.

With additional capacity for processing non-Baylor community tests, the lab can process up to 8,000 more tests daily with most results available within 24 hours.

By keeping everything in-house, the school is eliminating the risks they would face if they sent test kits out of town.

“You’ve eliminated so many variables we see with so many operations out there, where they may be using a carrier or something to that effect, where specimen can be compromised in transit,” Simons said. “We’re shipping specimen not a couple miles up the road here, from the BRIC to the heart of campus.”

“We are pleased to join in partnership with My Labs Direct to build our own COVID-19 testing lab, which will greatly extend our campus testing capability and help us continue to keep our University community safe, healthy and on campus,” said Nancy Brickhouse, Ph.D., Provost at Baylor. “This partnership also aligns with Baylor’s aspirations to be a Research 1/Tier 1 university, providing vital infrastructure and developing opportunities for faculty research and internships, practicums and business training programs for our undergraduate and graduate students.”

The collaboration promises to help the entire community eradicate COVID-19.

“I think beyond Baylor University, the capabilities that we’re developing here can serve to the benefit of counties. It can serve to the benefit of the state of Texas and beyond,” Simons said.

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