Environmental Testing

The Environmental Microbiology Section of the Laboratory of Clinical Investigations

MedStar Institute for Innovation (MI2) Building Sciences Center has enhanced capability to do environment sampling of the built environment. This is a major advantage to test materials, surfaces and technologies that are used in the healthcare environment. The Environmental Microbiology Section of the Laboratory of Clinical Investigations coordinates and integrates activity with the MI2 Building Science center to provide sophisticated testing and evaluation for MedStar Health researchers, manufacturers, government agencies and partnering institutions.

Building Sciences and Environmental Microbiology Testing

Hospital acquired infections (HAIs) along with increasing bacterial resistance have emerged as major challenges to the healthcare system. There are a number of emerging technologies applying antimicrobials to surface materials and common items widely used in healthcare systems. Adoption of these “self decontaminating” technologies has been slow due to lack of scientific data supporting the antimicrobial activity claims made by their manufacturers. One goal of the Environmental Microbiology Section of the Laboratory of Clinical Investigations (LCI) is to demonstrate the efficacy of these technologies using established microbiological techniques in both the laboratory and real-world setting of the hospital patient room.

Laboratory Capabilities: The LCI is housed within the George Hyman Research Building (GHRB) located on the campus of the Washington Hospital Center. The laboratory encompasses approximately 300 sq ft of dedicated research space. The LCI is equipped with a Labconco Precise Hepa-filtered Glove Box (permitting studies requiring ISO Class 3 conditions) and cubic ft incubator capacity. The laboratory is also equipped with numerous pieces of molecular biology equipment allowing for analysis of DNA, RNA, and proteins. As a member of the GHRB, the laboratory has full access to several inverted microscopes, a fluorescent microscope, various centrifuges, both -20°C and -80°C freezers, a liquid nitrogen freezer, and other core instruments including a 7500 Fast Real-Time PCR System by Applied Biosystems and a Kodak GelLogic 2000 Image Analysis system.

Current Activity: The laboratory is in the second year of an investigator-initiated grant examining the antimicrobial activity of Vestex, an antimicrobial and hydrophobic textile. This project has resulted two poster presentations (ICAAC, 2010 and SHEA, 2011). A manuscript of all current data is in preparation (projected publication in Spring, 2011) with another manuscript likely by Fall, 2011. The laboratory is actively pursuing collaborative projects on all aspects of using novel antimicrobial technologies to reduce microbial burden in the clinical setting.