Thank you to our behind-the-scenes medical laboratory heroes

Medical Laboratory Professionals Week is a chance to highlight the important role of clinical laboratory professionals


This week, UC Davis Health is celebrating and saying “thank you” to our approximately 300 medical laboratory professionals. These behind-the-scenes heroes are an integral part of the medical team. Seventy percent of medical decisions depend on their work. Last year they performed 3.7 million tests — roughly 300,000 a month, or about 10,000 per day.

“Lab’s a critical component of everything we do, and nothing has shown that more than during the COVID-19 pandemic. As the CEO of the health system, I want to let you know that you are all really appreciated. And as a physician, I just want to say thank you,” said UC Davis Health CEO David Lubarsky.

They have also played a critical role during the pandemic. In March 2020, when COVID-19 tests weren’t widely available, Pathology Professor Nam Tran and his team built a COVID-19 PCR test from scratch in just 19 days.

Since then, UC Davis Health has performed approximately 223,000 COVID-19 tests for both patients and healthcare workers.

David Lubarsky
As the CEO of the Health system, I want to let you know that you are all really appreciated. And as a physician, I just want to say thank you."David Lubarsky

“The School of Medicine is incredibly grateful for our talented lab scientists and lab staff who continue to be at the forefront of innovations in testing and helping keep our community safe during the pandemic,” said School of Medicine Interim Dean Susan Murin. “We are immensely grateful for their vital contributions to our mission to transform lives by improving health through education, research, clinical care, and community partnership.”  

Another year of accomplishments

 “Lab Week gives us the opportunity to raise the visibility of everything that our team does to ensure health and diagnose disease,” said Lydia Pleotis Howell.

A man in a white coat looks through a microscope.
Bret Yeargan, a clinical laboratory scientist, performs hematology and coagulation testing at UC Davis Health.

Howell is a professor and chair of the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine and the medical director of UC Davis Health’s clinical laboratories. She is proud of her department and noted that it was another record year for accomplishments.

“We had the Roche ‘go-live’ of our new automation line this winter. It was a huge success thanks to the positive attitudes and team spirit of everyone in pathology and laboratory medicine,” Howell said. The team also updated more than 90 procedures, trained more than 50 staff in new competencies, verified many existing instruments, ensured blood was available for patients despite the national shortage, and partnered with employee health for return-to-work COVID testing.

“All of this was invisible to our clinicians and patients who got great patient care and lab testing,” Howell said.

She notes it is not just the special projects that deserve recognition. “It’s the everyday routine work that keeps our patients healthy and supports our physicians and healthcare providers in doing their work,” Howell said. “So, to all our medical laboratory professionals, thank you very much!!”

In a nod to the crucial role of science and testing during the pandemic, Nam Tran previewed lab week on April 23 when he served as parade marshal for UC Davis’ beloved Picnic Day.

“Thank you to all the laboratory professionals at UC Davis,” Tran said. “Amazing work, as always, and we’ve made it this far through the COVID pandemic. I’m looking forward to the future and thank you for all you’ve done!”

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