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The Clinical Microbiology Laboratory functions to provide timely and accurate detection, identification, and drug susceptibility testing of infectious pathogens in patient samples. The exquisite sensitivity of nucleic acid amplification techniques, such as the polymerase chain reaction (PCR), is having a rapid impact on the approaches used to perform these assays. These molecular-based approaches allow the detection of infections with far greater speed and sensitivity compared to culture-based methods. Moreover, these methodologies can provide accurate quantitative information on the load of an infectious agent within a patient – a critical determinant that can directly influence how a patient is treated. At present, molecular-based diagnostic approaches are being used for only a limited number of infectious agents and are primarily performed at only a handful of reference laboratories. The goal of the Molecular Microbiology Laboratory at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital is to become a state-of-the-art facility in the application of molecular-based methodologies for the detection of infectious agents. We plan not only to implement assays established by other, but also to develop novel assays that will provide a direct benefit to the clinical management of our patients.
Last update: April 2003