ADDL Plays Key Role in Expanding Human COVID-19 Testing in Indiana

Wednesday, June 17, 2020

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Purdue University is helping to increase Indiana’s capacity for COVID-19 testing thanks to a partnership involving the Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory (ADDL), the Indiana State Department of Health, and Indiana hospitals.  The partnership also is now aided by a new software agreement.

The ADDL, located at Purdue’s College of Veterinary Medicine, started conducting COVID-19 tests for human patients in April.  The testing began after the lab received Clinical Laboratory Improvement Amendments certification to conduct human diagnostic testing, with Fort Wayne based Parkview Health providing clinical oversight. 

Now, another collaboration involving Orchard Software will put the ADDL in a stronger position to potentially expand its COVID-19 capability in the future, said Dr. Craig Bowen, assistant ADDL director.  “This agreement will provide the new software platform that we will use to manage our laboratory information for all of the COVID testing,” Dr. Bowen explained.  “The program will create the accession numbers, track the samples through the lab, connect to the testing equipment, and provide the capability to send necessary reports as part of the testing process.”

Currently, the COVID-19 samples being tested at the ADDL are coming from various hospitals in Indiana that have completed the “Partnership Inquiry” form.  Hospitals that complete the form and become approved partners send samples directly to the ADDL. Obtaining prior approval to be a partner hospital is necessary to avoid a testing backlog.  The goal is to turn around results the same day that samples are received in the lab.

Angie performs a test under the hood in the lab
Angie Chan is the supervisor of the Molecular Diagnostic Section of the Animal Disease Diagnostic Laboratory, which performs the polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests on samples received in the lab. (John Underwood/Purdue University photo)

“The College of Veterinary Medicine has a long history of providing services to protect animal and human health,” said Willie Reed, dean of the College of Veterinary Medicine. “Providing COVID-19 testing is yet another way to support the citizens of Indiana during this unprecedented public health crisis. The project was shepherded by David Broecker, chief innovation and collaboration officer for the Purdue Research Foundation, and involves several partners including the foundation, the Indiana State Department of Health, Parkview Hospital, and the Purdue community.”

Dr. Kenitra Hendrix, director of the ADDL, says the laboratory had a unique opportunity to assist with COVID-19 testing in Indiana because of its expertise in providing infectious disease testing for animals across the state.  “The ADDL is uniquely positioned to contribute skills and expertise in the detection of pathogens to the fight against COVID-19, while maintaining our diagnostic support of animal health and the safety of the food supply,” Dr. Hendrix said.

The samples are being tested using a polymerase chain reaction, or PCR, testing method that the ADDL uses regularly for animal specimens. The ADDL team, working with state health authorities, adjusted its intake and sample processing procedures to gain the necessary certification to use the PCR testing capability on human specimens.  “Our team worked diligently to prepare to perform this testing,” Dr. Hendrix said. “It is rewarding to be able to take on this role in support of the citizens of our state.”

“We are grateful to Purdue and the ADDL for helping to make testing more available for Hoosiers who are helping others during this pandemic,” said State Health Commissioner Kris Box, MD, FACOG.  Parkview Health provided clinical expertise on obtaining a CLIA license and setting up the lab for human testing. “What Purdue has done is fantastic and shows the ingenuity associated with creative problem solving. Paired with the significant amount of time invested by the Parkview lab team, we believe this will have a positive impact on the state’s testing capacity,” said Dr. Michael Mirro, chief academic research officer at Parkview Health.

The ADDL is a Biosafety Level 2 (BSL-2) facility accredited by the American Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians (AAVLD). BSL-2 laboratories are used to study moderate-risk infectious agents or toxins.  Dr. Hendrix emphasized that additional partnerships with other hospitals across the state are possible. Click here for more information and a form for potential partners.

Writer(s): Abbey Nickel, Purdue News Service |

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