Baylor University in Waco has officially opened its own on-site COVID-19 testing lab and research facility with the help of a Dallas-based diagnostic lab company, My Labs Direct.
My Labs Direct (MLD) was organized in 2018 to meet what it calls a growing demand for a “hassle-free direct-pay alternative to lab testing.” Since founding, MLD has processed more than 250,000 tests at its state-of-the-art facility in Dallas, and provided on-site testing for corporations and people at home with its mobile fleet.
MLD is a CLIA-certified, multi-million dollar lab that provides a slew of FDA-approved molecular diagnostic tests, like for the flu, strep, an STD, and COVID-19. It also offers blood wellness tests, including hormone, testosterone, thyroid, immune health, and more.
But, the lab isn’t owned by a university or affiliated with a medical school, making it one of the largest testing labs of its kind, according to a news release.
As the official research lab and COVID-19 testing partner for Baylor University and its athletic department, student body, faculty, and staff, MLD will be able to address the university’s ongoing coronavirus needs.
MLD initially provided the majority of Baylor’s COVID-19 testing—around 35,000 tests—when it opened for in-person learning during the height of the pandemic in the fall of 2020. In total, Baylor was conducing around 67,000 tests, more than The University of Texas at Austin, which has a student body triple its size, according to a news release.
The university said that it needs the ability to test 100 percent of its student body a week, especially considering its student retention rate is 95 percent going into Spring 2021.
The new partnership should ensure that.
“We are pleased to join in partnership with My Labs Direct to build our own COVID-19 testing lab, which will greatly extend our campus testing capability and help us continue to keep our University community safe, healthy and on campus,” Nancy Brickhouse, Ph.D., the provost at Baylor, said in a statement.
In teaming up, Baylor will open a high-throughput molecular PCR lab at its Baylor Research and Innovation Collaborative (BRIC), a 330,000-square-foot facility near campus in Waco. This will allow the university to operate at least three on-campus testing sites, allowing for up to 150,000 diagnostic tests to be conducted from January to May.
The lab also has the capacity to process non-Baylor, community tests, which it says amounts to up to 8,000 more tests daily. Most results are available within 24 hours.
MLD’s molecular PCR platform will additionally boost Baylor’s long-term vision to become a Research 1/Tier 1 university. That achievement comes from MLD’s robust testing capabilities: forensic testing, like PCR-based genetic fingerprinting and paternity testing; food safety testing, like for food-borne pathogens, toxins and GMOs, and livestock testing; and human health diagnostic testing, like rapid point-of-care influenza tests.
Brickhouse said that there will also now be opportunities for faculty research and internships, practicums, and business training programs for undergraduate and graduate students.
“The companion fit between My Labs Direct and Baylor University has led to the development of a state-of-the-art laboratory facility that enables gold-standard COVID-19 testing accuracy reported in less than 24 hours and in many cases the same-day,” MLD CEO Justin Simons said in a statement. “It is equally exciting that through MLD’s collaboration with Baylor University Research, we have developed a diagnostic framework that will enable advanced studies and analyses of not only COVID-19, but of a host of other molecular science initiatives.
“We could not be more thrilled about the potential this partnership brings.”
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