With the support of Louisiana Governor John Bel Edwards and the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS), scientists at LSU Health Shreveport established the Emerging Viral Threat (EVT) Laboratory to address the need for faster detection and processing of COVID-19 tests in March, 2020. The EVT Lab at LSUHS is the first in North Louisiana approved by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid (CMS) to conduct and analyze tests to determine if an individual has COVID-19. On December 16, 2020, the Louisiana Board of Regents unanimously supported a one-year initial approval of the Center for Emerging Viral Threats (CEVT) and one-year conditional designation as a Center of Research Excellence. The Board of Regents approval follows unanimous approval by the LSU Board of Supervisors to recognize the Center for Emerging Viral Threats as a Center of Excellence.
OUR MISSION is to serve the citizens of the state and diagnose the presence of SARS-CoV-2 / COVID-19 and then to become the region’s top surveillance lab for the detection of new viruses and other pathogens that could affect the health of citizens of the region and state.
The CEVT is working to obtain complete genome sequences of the viruses from samples in cooperation with nationwide and international efforts to better understand the virus, enable molecular epidemiology work, such as contact tracing, and to inform future vaccine efforts. LSU Health Shreveport is also the only academic center in Louisiana with this capability.
New: Phylodynamic analysis of Louisiana SARS-CoV-2 outbreak
Phylogenetic analyses are used to place SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus genomes on a “family tree,” and are generated using powerful software designed by genetic epidemiologists. The resulting trees enable scientists and curious members of the public to interact with viral genetic sequence information to infer possible transmission chains and to visualize the relatedness of various SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus genomes from around the state. The raw data were generated by determining the sequence of viral RNA genomes recovered from patient samples. The organizations that contributed viral sequence data from Louisiana were LSUHS EVT laboratory, MiGS Center, Garry Lab (Tulane), the Andersen Lab (Scripps Research), BioInfo Experts, LSU Baton Rouge, Gingko Bioworks, the Louisiana Department of Public Health and the CDC. Once sequence data is generated, it is uploaded to GISAID, a science initiative for epidemics/pandemics that has become a key resource for international collaboration efforts to combat COVID-19 and influenza.
"The faculty and staff of the Center of Excellence for Emerging Viral Threats are fully committed to deliver the testing, clinical/vaccine trials and research required to move our community beyond this pandemic as quickly as possible. Receiving designation as a Center of Excellence will strengthen our position to compete for grant funding and in preparing for the pandemics of the future.” - Chris Kevil, PhD, Vice Chancellor for Research
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