Wisconsin’s Public-Private Partnership to Increase COVID-19 Testing Capacity

This blog is written by Sara Mann, General Manger, Promega North America Branch

Promega is part of a new public-private partnership among Wisconsin industry leaders to increase the state’s laboratory testing capacity for COVID-19. I am pleased to represent Promega in this effort. The valuable insight we at Promega are gaining every day through our participation in this innovative partnership not only benefits Wisconsin labs, it also provides unique understandings about how we can best meet the testing needs of our customers around the world.

Promega Maxwell Instrument shown in a laboratory.

The new partnership includes laboratory support from Exact Sciences, Marshfield Clinic Health System, UW Health, as well as Promega. These organizations, along with the Wisconsin Clinical Lab Network, are sharing knowledge, resources, and technology to bolster Wisconsin’s testing capacity. Our goal is to help labs find the quickest approach to the most tests with their validated methods.

Promega is leveraging our breadth and demonstrated experience in technology development, manufacturing and quality systems to provide testing reagents for Wisconsin labs. Labs in the state that are running COVID-19 tests have expressed great confidence in Promega’s ability to manufacture the vital reagents required for the necessary analysis. As needed, Promega field support scientists and engineers will help fine-tune methods for robots and instrumentation, enabling high-throughput testing.

Better Together

Given the unprecedented public health challenge the SARS-CoV2 virus presents, stakeholders around the state knew a collaboration between public and private labs in Wisconsin would be crucial.  Promega reached out to Wisconsin Governor Evers’ office on March 20th to ensure the state had the latest information on our support during the pandemic. Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm was speaking to key members in the state to determine how to address the pandemic more proactively. Exact Sciences CEO Kevin Conroy and Promega CEO Bill Linton were also problem-solving on how a collaboration of resources and ideas could support increased testing capacity in Wisconsin. The public-private partnership grew from these discussions.  

Taskforce members of the specimen collection and lab capacity partnership connect daily to collaborate on ways to help public and private labs in the state increase their testing capacity. We have been able to learn from and work with labs, understand their unique daily needs and challenges, and deliver purification and amplification supplies, as well as help them make the best use of the equipment and methods they already use. We also discuss other challenges such as PPE and transport media needs. We work with the project team to introduce members to each other’s network of connections, enabling us act quickly and effectively.

Local Learning Informs Overall Approach

I cannot overstate the importance of this daily, real-time sharing of knowledge across both labs and manufacturers. It is a critical part of this partnership, giving all members unique insight into where needs are the greatest, and the most efficient and effective ways to address those needs. This level set understanding is accelerating the state’s ability to reach the goal of additional testing capacity in Wisconsin.

Promega is also leveraging this valuable insight to continually inform how to best meet the changing testing needs of customers in labs around the globe. For instance, we adjusted a protocol method on our MaxPrep™ Liquid Handler to align with the specimen handling guidelines. This new protocol can be run at any site that uses MaxPrep.

It is truly an honor and a privilege to learn from and collaborate with this historic group of industry thought leaders each day as we come together to meet this unprecedented public health challenge head on. Learn more about Wisconsin’s public-private partnership to increase COVID-19 testing here: Press release, March 30, 2020 – Gov. Evers Announces New Public-Private Partnership to Increase COVID-19 Laboratory Testing Capacity

Sara Mann is the General Manager of North America Branch at Promega Corporation. In this role, Sara oversees the sales and marketing teams, developing the strategic vision for the North America Branch.Sara has held various positions since joining Promega in 2004, including Sr. Regional Manager (2012 – 2018), Inside Sales Manager (2010 – 2012), Sr. Client Support Consultant (2004 – 2010). Prior to joining Promega, Sara was a sales generalist with Fisher Scientific after she worked as a Research Scientist at the University of Chicago. Sara graduated with a Bachelor of Science degree in Food Science Human Nutrition from the University of Illinois at Urbana – Champaign.

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Promega products are used by life scientists who are asking fundamental questions about biological processes and by scientists who are applying scientific knowledge to diagnose and treat diseases, discover new therapeutics, and use genetics and DNA testing for human identification. Originally, founded in 1978 in Madison, Wisconsin, USA, Promega has branches in 16 countries and more than 50 global distributors serving 100 countries.

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