Skip to main content

Clinical Microbiology

Clinical Strengths

The RUMC Clinical and Molecular Microbiology Laboratory functions is a full-service diagnostic laboratory. It is the primary microbiology laboratory for RUMC and Rush Oak Park Hospital and a reference laboratory for other Rush system partners and numerous outpatient practices in the Rush University Medical Group. The laboratory is staffed 24-hours per day, 7 days per week by medical technologists and laboratory technicians who work to identify infectious microorganisms from a variety of clinical specimens. The laboratory offers on-site testing in bacteriology, mycology, mycobacteriology, virology, arthropod and parasite identification, and molecular microbiology. The laboratory offers an extensive menu of FDA-cleared and laboratory-developed assays for infectious disease diagnosis and surveillance. The laboratory is led by a physician scientist board certified in infectious diseases (Dr. Mary Hayden, Director) and a PhD scientist (Dr. Nicholas Moore, Associate Director). The laboratory is certified by CLIA and CAP.

The laboratory actively supports the mission of training and educating future ID physicians in clinical microbiology. The microbiology laboratory directors conduct daily plate rounds and are available for remote or in-person consultation on all aspects of testing, including selection of appropriate specimens and tests to diagnose infectious diseases and interpretation of test results.

Additional educational activity for fellows includes weekly teaching rounds (Mondays and Wednesdays) in the microbiology laboratory, which is located on the main RUMC campus. These sessions utilize an interactive, hands-on, case-based approach to examine clinical laboratory workflows and procedures for the diagnosis of infectious diseases. Interesting and unusual cases or those with an infrequently encountered pathogen are presented frequently. Didactic instruction includes a clinical microbiology “boot camp” that is held during the first week of fellowship. A 20-lecture series on clinical microbiology is held over the following two years. In addition, fellows are strongly encouraged to participate in one or more elective rotations in the laboratory, which include bench work. Elective rotations are tailored to the fellow’s interests, and can include general clinical microbiology, specialized work in a particular area of interest, or interdisciplinary training that involves epidemiology or public health activities. Fellows may also participate in research, surveillance, or validation or verification of new microbiology assays.

RUMC houses the Genomics and Microbiome Core Facility, which includes the Regional Innovative Public Health Laboratory (RIPHL), a collaborative project between Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) and RUMC. The goal of RIPHL is to provide advanced laboratory capacity to CDPH. Dr. Stefan Green and Dr. Mary Hayden are co-PIs of RIPHL. Fellows may participate in elective rotations that include experience in RIPHL.

The Clinical Microbiology Lab at Stroger Hospital is directed by Dr. Kamaljit Singh, MD who is board-certified in infectious diseases and board certified in medical microbiology by the College of American Pathologists and the American Society for Microbiology. Plate rounds are held in the lab twice weekly. Dr. Singh is available for consultation on test selection or result interpretation. Drs. Hayden, Moore, and Singh hold or have recently held state or national leadership positions in clinical microbiology, and serve on national guidelines panel for diagnosis of infectious diseases.

Research Excellence

Research opportunities are available for fellows within the clinical and molecular microbiology laboratories. Recent fellow projects include validations of new equipment and assays – including development of assays to diagnose COVID-19, screening tests for detection of multidrug-resistant organisms, laboratory evaluation and in vitro susceptibility testing of new antimicrobial agents, utilization of whole genome sequencing for outbreak investigations, and investigation of the epidemiology and presentation of viral and bacterial diseases. Faculty in the laboratory have led clinical trials and post-marketing studies of new in vitro assays and new applications of products and technology, including COVID-19 diagnostics.

Other Opportunities

Fellows have the opportunity to complete a clinical microbiology elective rotation (2 – 4 weeks). This elective rotation, which is highly encouraged, is tailored to the interests and needs of each fellow. It provides ID trainees additional instruction in laboratory procedures, including the examination of direct stains of clinical material and the work up of cultures alongside medical technologists. Specific instruction in molecular microbiology and laboratory management is also available.