‘National Laboratory Week’ April 19-25

ALBUQUERQUE, NM – The New Mexico Department of Health (NMDOH) recognizes ‘National Laboratory Professionals Week’ April 19–25 and celebrates the contributions of dedicated lab professionals who play a vital role in protecting public health and safety across the state.

 “During this unprecedented pandemic, we express the deepest appreciation to our dedicated professionals whose analytical support and scientific advisement are essential to safeguarding our public health,” said Cabinet Secretary Kathy Kunkel. “In one way or another, the work of our Scientific Laboratory Division, and our commercial, academic and national labs, touches every citizen of New Mexico.”

For the past 100 years, the scope of work has expanded from acute critical testing to include global concerns. The NMDOH Scientific Laboratory Division (SLD) is the sole consolidated public health laboratory for clinical, environmental, and toxicology testing in the state. Equipped with sophisticated instrumentation and staffed by highly trained scientists, SLD offers a broad scope of services, including: 

  • Infectious disease surveillance to help determine the risk to a community.
  • Animal testing to diagnose, monitor, control, and eradicate emerging diseases among animals. 
  • Environmental health to ensure the safety of water, soil and air from chemical, biological or radiological agents or other contaminants.
  • Food testing monitoring for outbreaks of foodborne diseases.
  • Toxicology screening for alcohol and drugs in DWI criminal cases and autopsy cases.
  • Emergency response or preparedness to respond to intentional attacks, natural disasters, disease outbreaks and accidents involving hazardous substances.

The scope of responsibilities also covers global concerns such as developing laboratory tests for faster analyses or emerging agents of concern, ensuring that our water and milk are safe through the certification programs, and serving a central role in emergency planning and preparedness. Responsibilities also include the training of public health and environmental staff, clinical testing laboratories, law enforcement personnel and serving as experts and expert witnesses in the areas of expertise.
Scientific Laboratory Division has stood the test of time as it celebrates 100 years of service to New Mexico. Over the course of a year, lab professionals at SLD perform more than 350,000 vital tests on nearly 80,000 samples. These tests range from routine standard tests to responding to new threats which can include new infectious agents (SARS-Cov-2) to environmental events (lead testing in schools).

“Beyond testing, there is the collaboration with our partners to ensure that there is a strong laboratory network functioning in the state. This includes supporting others through training and inspection programs, expert witness services, and serving as subject matter experts as needed,” said Dr. Michael Edwards, Director of Scientific Laboratory Division.

SLD is accredited and certified by national accrediting organizations, including College of American Pathologists, US Environmental Protection Agency, US Food and Drug Administration, American Board of Forensic Toxicology, and CDC Select Agent and Toxin program. To learn more about Laboratory Professionals Week or the Scientific Laboratory Division, visit: https://www.aphl.org/aboutAPHL/Pages/aboutphls.aspx and https://nmhealth.org/about/sld/

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