Glasgow lab facility begins processing samples for Covid-19

Lighthouse Lab at Queen Elizabeth University Hospital could eventually scale up to conduct tens of thousands of tests per day.

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A major new Covid-19 testing facility – that could eventually conduct tens of thousands of tests per day – is now operational in Glasgow.

The Lighthouse Lab is part of what will be the biggest network of diagnostic testing facilities in British history, alongside other Lighthouse Lab sites in Milton Keynes and Alderley Park in England.

The project, which is funded by the UK Government, is being hosted by the University of Glasgow at their Queen Elizabeth University Hospital Campus, and opened in collaboration with the Scottish Government, industry experts from BioAscent and the University of Dundee, and the Cancer Research UK Beatson Institute.

It will test samples from regional test centres where NHS staff and frontline workers with suspected Covid-19 infections are tested.

“I am pleased that after weeks of hard work and continued effort by all involved, the University of Glasgow can now deliver the country new, large-scale testing facility, in conjunction with our industry partners and the NHS.”

Professor Dame Anna Dominiczak, University of Glasgow Vice Principal

Professor Dame Anna Dominiczak, University of Glasgow Vice Principal and Head of the College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, who leads the team said: “I am pleased that after weeks of hard work and continued effort by all involved, the University of Glasgow can now deliver the country new, large-scale testing facility, in conjunction with our industry partners and the NHS.

“I remain incredibly grateful to all partners and colleagues who have volunteered their time, expertise and skills for this testing facility. As a result of their willingness to help, we have equipped, staffed and set-up a new testing facility that is now operational and will be vitally important in the NHS efforts against this coronavirus pandemic. It has been said all over the world and confirmed by the WHO that we have to test, test and test more to fight the virus that has killed so many.”

Dr Jodie Hay, a Chronic Lymphocytic Leukemia researcher at the University of Glasgow, is one of the volunteers at The Lighthouse Lab in Glasgow.

A cancer scientist with experience of working with patient samples and molecular lab techniques, Dr Hay volunteered so she could use her skills to help with COVID-19 response in the UK.

Dr Hay said: “I was one of the first volunteers selected to begin working in the Lighthouse Lab in Glasgow and it has been incredible to see how quickly everyone has been able to get this lab up and running so that we can begin processing the testing samples.

“Like my other colleagues working in the lab, we volunteered so that we could use the skills and expertise we have from our usual lab work in this response against COVID-19. Although these are challenging times, it feels positive to be able to use my skills and experience in this way and to be able to help.”

It is hoped the lab will quickly move towards processing several thousand tests per day, before scaling up further to tens of thousands of tests per day.

The lab is currently equipped with 20 protective cabinets sourced from the University of Glasgow, a fleet of fast high throughput ThermoFisher PCR machines and RNA extractors.

Much of the equipment has been sourced from University of Glasgow labs, and moved to the new testing centre in order to make rapid COVID-19 response work possible.