Microbiology Research Laboratory

The Microbiology Research Laboratory was created in 1985 to address the growing concern surrounding a new tick-borne illness called Lyme disease. Early studies focused on identifying the prevalence of the bacterium Borrelia burgdorferi in La Crosse and surrounding communities, and the research effort expanded to include important findings that led to the development of effective commercial tests and vaccines for detecting or preventing the infection. In fact, the Microbiology Research Laboratory’s original observations have resulted in several commercially licensed patents.

The laboratory is staffed by several full-time scientists and graduate students enrolled in the University of Wisconsin-La Crosse Master of Science in Clinical Microbiology program who continue to devote significant effort to studies that concern Lyme disease.

The researchers have expanded the scope of their work to include studies of other infectious microorganisms, and the efforts have led to numerous publications of their research findings and several review articles and book chapters. In addition, the scientists collaborate with multiple academic partners. For example, the laboratory functions as a central-testing facility for a wide variety of cancer studies overseen by the Eastern Cooperative Oncology Group. The researchers are also involved in a statewide study to evaluate the impact of several newly-described sexually transmitted diseases sponsored by the Wisconsin Network for Healthcare Research.

The Microbiology Research Laboratory is a CLIA-certified high complexity testing facility with an expanding menu of molecular diagnostic tests, several of which were developed by the researchers themselves. In fact, their expertise has garnered widespread recognition, which has led to several commercial partnerships to develop more accurate diagnostic tests. Partnerships with Intelligent MDx and EraGen resulted in FDA-approval of commercial state-of-the-art molecular diagnostic tests that accurately detect human cases of swine flu and Herpes simplex viruses, respectively.
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