GVN Center and Member Spotlight

January 20, 2022 – GVN SPOTLIGHT ON:

Dr. Jana Broadhurst
University of Nebraska Medical Center
Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology and Microbiology Director, Nebraska Biocontainment Unit Clinical Laboratory Director, Emerging Pathogens Laboratory

Professional summary

I am an Assistant Professor of Pathology and Microbiology at UNMC, a faculty affiliate of the Global Center for Health Security, and serve as the medical director for the Nebraska Biocontainment Unit Clinical Laboratory and the Emerging Pathogens Laboratory (EPL). As a clinical pathologist and microbiologist, I focus on the development and implementation of infectious disease diagnostic tools for clinical and public health applications. I am particularly driven by the challenge of inequitable access to testing in underserved communities, and the coordinated innovation of diagnostic technologies and community-based testing program development required to address this persistent challenge.

What are you and your institution currently working on regarding COVID-19?

UNMC and Nebraska Medicine initiated COVID-19 clinical research efforts when the first repatriated Americans exposed to SARS-CoV-2 were cared for in the National Quarantine Center and Nebraska Biocontainment Unit. UNMC established the first observational cohort study in the U.S. to enroll COVID-19 patients and participates in numerous multicenter trials for COVID-19 therapeutics and vaccines. My laboratory supports multiple facets of COVID-19 research and public health response measures at UNMC. Our current COVID-19 research spans novel diagnostic development, immune profiling of longitudinal cohorts, special processing and biobanking for clinical trials, and implementation of SARS-CoV-2 testing programs in underserved community settings. In partnership with Omaha Public Schools, we pioneered in-school saliva testing and environmental surveillance in an urban public school setting. Building upon this work, we serve as a participating site in the NIH RADx-Underserved Populations program, partnering with the Nebraska Migrant Education Program to provide home-based testing for migrant families. Our cohort studies and service programs are linked to our CDC-funded efforts to investigate the interplay of emerging virus strains and antibody response.

What are you working on regarding SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics?

My work with SARS-CoV-2 diagnostics began by developing one of the first molecular diagnostic tests in the U.S. to support the management of repatriated Americans in the National Quarantine Center. My laboratory went on to develop a high throughput saliva testing method to support scalable and distributable testing for community partners. We demonstrated the value of proactive, asymptomatic screening in the K-12 school setting, and have adapted our programming to meet the needs of diverse urban and rural community partners in Nebraska and neighboring tribal lands.

About The University of Nebraska Department of Pathology and Microbiology

At the beginning of the 21st century, we are amidst three major revolutions in science and medicine. Spectacular achievements are occurring each day in molecular and cell biology that greatly expand our horizons, simultaneously offering hope for conquering numerous terrible maladies that affect mankind, as well as challenging us to think beyond our present approaches to medicine and biology. The information age presents new, exciting, and rapidly evolving opportunities for our missions of teaching, research and clinical service. Health and bioinformatics are at the forefront of the explosive changes occurring in medicine and medical research. While these rapid changes are occurring in basic science, medicine and informatics, a revolution in health care delivery and in higher education is also well underway, forcing suppliers to provide quality services at lowest cost and demanding solutions to problems of access to health care, as well as a refocus on health maintenance rather than disease treatment. The Department of Pathology and Microbiology at the University of Nebraska Medical Center develops, conveys and applies knowledge to further the science and practice of pathology and microbiology. We will provide the most thorough and motivating education and training for health professionals in the disciplines of pathology and microbiology, promoting lifelong learning and professional growth of faculty, learners, and staff. We will foster innovation, creativity and excellence in basic, translational and applied research. Through such actions, we will transform this expert knowledge and skills into the best quality healthcare for Nebraskans and beyond. Our vision is to be a premier department recognized locally, nationally and internationally for excellence in biomedical education, research, clinical practice and care, as well as academic leadership.

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