Clinical Microbiology

Clinical Strengths

The clinical microbiology laboratory at RUMC functions as a comprehensive diagnostic laboratory, acting as the primary microbiology laboratory for RUMC patients. In addition, the RUMC clinical microbiology laboratory serves as a reference laboratory for other hospitals in the Rush system including Rush Oak Park Hospital and Rush Copley Medical Center, 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. We offer on-site testing in bacteriology, mycology, mycobacteriology, arthropod and parasite identification, and molecular microbiology. The laboratory has an extensive menu of FDA-cleared and laboratory developed assays used to diagnose infections. The laboratory is led by a physician scientist board certified in infectious diseases (Dr. Mary Hayden) and a PhD scientist (Dr. Nicholas Moore). 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 by telephone page for consultation on selection of appropriate tests to diagnose infectious diseases and for interpretation of laboratory 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 a case-based approach to examine clinical laboratory workflows and procedures used to work up clinical specimens for the diagnosis of infectious diseases. Interesting and unusual cases or those with an infrequently encountered pathogen are also presented. An interactive, 2-hour didactic orientation to the clinical microbiology program is held during the first week of fellowship. A 20-lecture series on clinical microbiology is held over the following two years.

Research Excellence

Research opportunities are available for fellows within the clinical microbiology laboratory. Recent fellow projects include validations of new equipment and assays, development of screening methods for 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 also led clinical trials and post-market studies of new in vitro assays and new applications of products and technology.

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.