UC Santa Cruz Molecular Diagnostic Lab: Tales from a pandemic pop-up lab

We continue to highlight the science unfolding in realtime in response to COVID-19 with another special edition of the Kraw Lecture Series. Meet the four-person team that co-founded the COVID-19 diagnostic testing laboratory at UC Santa Cruz, known as the UCSC Molecular Diagnostic Lab (MDL). The lab began operating in May, and has tested students, staff, faculty, and community members from federally qualified health centers that serve traditionally underserved populations. The lab's partnership with Santa Cruz Community Health and Salud Para La Gente is serving our most vulnerable residents.


Michael Stone, professor, chemistry and biochemistry

Michael's lab has advanced the field of RNA structural biology and cancer research with discoveries about telomeres and telomerase that play important roles in human aging and diseases such as cancer. His UC Santa Cruz research group specializes in the development of biochemical and biophysical techniques related to telomere biology. Michael has been bringing this technical expertise to bear on the optimization of the Covid-19 testing pipeline.

Jeremy Sanford, professor, molecular, cell, and developmental biology

Jeremy has deep expertise researching the role of RNA in cancer and other genetic diseases. Before joining UC Santa Cruz in 2008, Jeremy was an assistant professor at the Indiana University School of Medicine. At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, Jeremy took the lead in setting up a diagnostic testing laboratory using technology available at the university.

Olena Vaske, assistant professor, molecular, cell, and developmental biology

Olena co-founded the Treehouse Childhood Cancer Initiative when she was a postdoctoral researcher in David Haussler's group in the UC Santa Cruz Genomics Institute. She joined the UC Santa Cruz faculty in 2018, and is inaugural holder of the Colligan Presidential Chair in Pediatric Genomics. Olena is an ABMGG board-certified clinical molecular geneticist and brings her clinical expertise and certifications to the operation of the MDL.

Isabel Bjork, executive director, Genomics Institute, director of operations MDL

Isabel has served as Director of Pediatric Cancer Precision Medicine, and now as Executive Director of the Genomics Institute. She joined the MDL to contribute strategic and operational expertise to bring essential testing capacity to Santa Cruz. She has a background in international legal reform in developing countries, conflict management and organizational change. Isabel is a licensed attorney and trained in developmental psychology.

Thursday, July 23, 2020 at 5:30pm

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Lectures & Presentations

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Alumni, Faculty & Staff, Students, Prospective Students, General Public, Graduate Students


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