New York State Department of Health Recognizes Public Health Laboratory Appreciation Month

Department Celebrates the Many Contributions of the Wadsworth Center

ALBANY, N.Y. (September 7, 2023) – The New York State Department of Health celebrates Public Health Laboratory Appreciation Month by recognizing the award-winning Wadsworth Center and its employees for all they do to protect and improve the health of New Yorkers.

"The Wadsworth Center is one of the premier public health laboratories in the world with an amazing staff who perform exceptional work advancing public health in New York State and across the country," State Health Commissioner Dr. James McDonald said. "Wadsworth translates science into practical application. Wadsworth leads ground-breaking research into an array of subject matters including nuclear chemistry, newborn screening, wastewater surveillance and cellular immunology. Given the role they play in protecting and promoting the health of everyone, the Wadsworth Center deserves to be celebrated every day."

The Wadsworth Center focuses on a wide range of critical public health concerns, including responding to public health threats, studying emerging infections, analyzing environmental exposures, and licensing clinical and environmental laboratories, among many other critical responsibilities. Since its origins in developing communicable disease treatments in 1901 and the development of the Division of Laboratories and Research in 1914, the Wadsworth Center has grown to become the largest and most diverse state public health laboratory in the U.S.

The Wadsworth Center is a major collaborator in the State's Wastewater Surveillance Network and program, which has provided health officials with an additional mechanism to assess COVID-19 circulation in communities. To protect all New Yorkers, DOH and the Wadsworth Center continue monitoring for and analyzing samples of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, as reports emerge of new strains. The results are used, alongside clinical case information and test data, to provide a more comprehensive view and advance tracking of transmission trends. The Wadsworth Center also coordinates the genetic sequencing of wastewater samples to identify variants of the virus that causes COVID-19. These new tools and capabilities enable the Department and local health departments to target their public health responses more effectively.

Additionally, the work of the Wadsworth Center has been paramount to the detection of poliovirus in certain areas. Following the Wadsworth Center's identification of a case of paralytic polio in Rockland County in July of 2022, Department officials quickly adapted the existing wastewater network partnering with CDC and local entities to test for poliovirus. These ongoing monitoring activities, now also based at the Wadsworth Center, enabled the State to assess communities for signs of circulating polio and prioritize the public health response to residents in areas most at risk.

The Wadsworth Center was also critical in response efforts to the Mpox outbreak. As one of only two laboratories in the State with the initial capability to detect the Mpox virus, the laboratory was able to immediately perform testing during the first three months of the outbreak, until clinical and commercial laboratories implemented testing. The Wadsworth Center laboratories developed a specific test for the rapid identification of the type of Mpox causing the outbreak, as well as a serology assay for the diagnosis and surveillance of the Mpox virus in New York State.

The Wadsworth Center currently operates across five facilities in the Capital region. A new laboratory will be constructed by 2030 on the Harriman State Office Building Campus in Albany and will consolidate the five current facilities into a single new laboratory. After an additional $967 million was appropriated for the project this year on top of the $750 million appropriated previously, the total budget for construction of the new laboratory is $1.7 billion.

Information about The Wadsworth Center can be found here.