Baylor Esoteric and Molecular Laboratory Expands COVID-19 Testing to Serve Region

In March 2020, Dr. Elizabeth Forrester and Dr. Dawn Richards obtained a CLIA certificate of compliance and appropriate state licensure allowing them to process COVID-19 tests in the molecular biology teaching lab located in the Weeks science building.

Throughout the spring, they processed thousands of COVID-19 tests for Hamilton County and other community partners. In July, they expanded their services with the opening of the new Baylor Esoteric and Molecular (BEM) Laboratory located on the first floor of the Tennessee Aquarium Conservation Institute (TNACI). The lab is accredited by CLIA for high complexity testing and the State of Tennessee Dept. of Health (TNDH) for esoteric molecular diagnostics and immunology.

We offer RT-PCR testing services for organizations with time-sensitive testing needs. Our esoteric designation allows us to focus our attention on rare and often hard to diagnose infectious diseases and genetic disorders.

“The new lab was established to provide diagnostic services primarily through the molecular analysis of tissues and cells,” says Forrester. “We offer RT-PCR testing services for organizations with time-sensitive testing needs. Our esoteric designation allows us to focus our attention on rare and often hard to diagnose infectious diseases and genetic disorders.”

Due to the sustained pandemic, the BEM lab primarily processes samples sent for COVID-19 testing for organizations and clients throughout the Southeast at an even greater volume than those done while in Weeks. Over time, the acquisition of more instrumentation has enabled the BEM lab team to escalate from running 65 tests in a 24-hour cycle to 600-900 tests daily. “In addition to processing tests for Baylor, our work with other schools includes the University of the South, Woodberry Forest, and UTC’s Athletic Department. We also process tests for a variety of community partners such as CHI Memorial Hospital, Galen Medical Group, One to One Health, Clinical Medicos, and Phoenix Air Medical Group in Cartersville, Ga.,” said Forrester. “The lab operates in an extremely organized manner to ensure the highest quality control throughout the testing process and timeliness of patient reports.”