CDC bulletin, April-May-June, 1949, A reprint of pages 1-27 on Laboratory Division : functions and objectives
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CDC bulletin, April-May-June, 1949, A reprint of pages 1-27 on Laboratory Division : functions and objectives

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      Federal Security Agency, Public Health Service, Communicable Disease Center, Atlanta, Ga.

      An excerpt of the first 27 pages of the CDC bulletin, April-May-June, 1949.

      In 1944, the Committee on Teaching of the American Society of Tropical Medicine sent an urgent request to the Surgeon General of the Public Health Service asking that something be done to improve laboratory diagnosis in the field of parasitology. It was decided to start refresher training courses in the laboratory diagnosis of parasitic diseases for persons already employed in diagnostic laboratories, and to establish a national reference diagnostic center to which parasitic disease specimens could be sent for diagnosis. Accordingly, in 1945 the Parasitology Laboratory was organized and began functioning. At the same time, it was realized that other diagnostic laboratory facilities and services were inadequate in many places throughout the country and that some assistance should be given them. In 1946, the Virus and Rickettsial Branch Laboratories were set up in Montgomery, Ala. In 1947, the Bacteriology Branch Laboratories were set up in Atlanta. In 1948, a modest start was made toward a Pathology Branch which will include sections in pathology, hematology, and biochemistry. It will perhaps be easier to understand the rork of this Division if we discuss first the general functions which apply to all branches. The first function is to assist the Epidemiology Division of the Communicable Disease Center in field and laboratory investigations of emergency epidemic problems when called upon by any State health officer, and to give whatever laboratory assistance is needed to special epidemiological and control operations of the Communicable Disease Center. The second function is to undertake methodology research to evaluate the sensitivity and specificity of the various diagnostic techniques now available, to improve these techniques where indicated, and to devise new techniques where there is a deficiency. We are not aiming at establishing "Standard U. S. Public Health Service Techniques," but are trying to evaluate the reliability of the various techniques as an aid to laboratory workers throughout the country in formulating and standardizing their own routines. The third function of the Laboratory Division is to act as a reference diagnostic center, offering laboratory diagnosis on difficult specimens which local laboratories may not be equipped to handle or on which they wish consultation. Some techniques are demanded so infrequently or are so expensive that many individual laboratories cannot maintain them. This is a need which we are endeavoring to fill. The fourth function is to offer supplementary training for ALREADY EMPLOYED laboratorians by means of short, intensive refresher courses to improve their performance of techniques now in use and to acquaint them with the newer techniques. The fifth function is to offer consultation services to State and local public health laboratories which request them. Assistance is offered in solving technical or administrative problems. When necessary, our personnel go directly to the requesting laboratory to give such aid. When specifically requested, surveys are made of State and local health department laboratories. These surveys consist of exhaustive program and technical reviews, with specific recommendations for improvement of services. It is hoped that we can thus strengthen the programs of the various State public health laboratories and that they in turn will evaluate and strengthen the performance of all other laboratories within their State. In this way we hope to obtain the greatest increase in efficiency of laboratory diagnosis throughout the country in the shortest possible time. We want to make clear that we have no desire to offer routine services which can, and should be, provided by the already established laboratories and institutions. Our aim is to render whatever additional help is necessary to improve diagnostic services in this country.

      Over-all functions and objectives of the Laboratory Division / S.E. Miller -- Methodology research / M.M. Brooke -- Reference diagnostic service / M. Frobisher -- Laboratory training and extension service programs / Frank Reider -- Consultation services / E.J. Tiffany

      27 numbered pages

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