Public Health Laboratory
Interviews and Videos from Public Health Laboratory Employees
- COVID-19 Stories: Read first-hand accounts of Public Health Laboratory employees who were at the center of the governmental response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
- MDH Speaks: Watch presentations about some the Public Health Lab’s important and fascinating projects.
Infectious Disease Research for CDC Program
Led by the Public Health Laboratory, the Minnesota Department of Health (MDH) partnered with the University of Minnesota, the Mayo Clinic, and the University of Pennsylvania to be named one of the country’s five Pathogen Genomics Centers of Excellence (PGCoE) by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). The program aims to improve the ability to detect and respond to future infectious disease threats and emergencies. Read about the research on our Pathogen Genomics Centers of Excellence (PGCoE) page.
Stranger in the Northland
Comic by Ray Erickson
See Stranger in the Northland Comic with Descriptive Text (PDF) to view the comic and the accompanying descriptive text.
Scientist/Artist Ray Erickson explains the story behind his comic "Stranger in the Northland".
“When people ask what an Infectious Disease Microbiologist does, they don’t tend to make it far into the explanation before stopping me. That’s where the idea for the comic came from. This is a concise, if wholly inaccurate, illustration of how laboratory microbiologists can identify unknown infectious agents (without mentioning poop once).
Part of our job at the Infectious Disease Lab is to identify the disease causing, pathogenic, bacteria infecting Minnesotans. While we also use cutting-edge scientific instruments, some of the art of what we do utilizes the classic microbiological techniques that are being phased out of most clinical labs. With the wide-spread adoption of Culture Independent Diagnostic Testing (CIDT), fewer labs train technicians in using the methods (wrongly) portrayed in this comic. Pathogenic bacteria will only grow in certain conditions – requiring some chemicals and inhibited by others. Coaxing the bacteria to grow and knowing which chemicals to test can be an art. In this comic, our heroin efficiently uses only two inhibitory and one differential chemical for a positive identification. When our pathogen survives assaults from both bile acids and sodium thiosulfate there are few possibilities who it could be. When it metabolizes sucrose, there is only one.
Some people think that science and art exist at different poles of the human mind —analytical versus imaginative — but they intersect in both the classic methods that require a creative mind and trained eye and at the leading edges innovating the next generation of testing. Just as portrait paintings benefit from the scientific knowledge of anatomy, science today proceeds and improves through the hands and vision of artistic scientists.
…not me though. I just like making comics in my spare time."