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IIAD projects highlighted at International Symposium

Two of the Institute for Infectious Animal Diseases’ (IIAD) projects were recently highlighted at the 18th International Symposium of the World Association of Veterinary Laboratory Diagnosticians held in Sorrento, Italy on June 7-10.

The Multi-Laboratory International Collaboration Environment (MICE) project was selected for an oral presentation led by the project’s technical lead, Christopher Kocmoud, Texas Center for Applied Technology (TCAT) senior systems engineer. Melissa Berquist, Ph.D., IIAD director; Keith Biggers, Ph.D., TCAT director of computing technology and IIAD information and analysis theme leader; James Wall, Ph.D., TCAT executive director; and Matt Cochran, DVM, MIA, IIAD program director are also leads on the MICE project. The project, which was funded by the Department of Homeland Security Science and Technology Directorate’s Homeland Security Advanced Research Projects Agency, aims to create a virtual collaboration environment that supports bringing together national and international animal health diagnostic and research biocontainment laboratories to improve collaboration and enable better communication and coordination between organizations.

“By sharing the actual source images and data, the MICE system will solve so many complex problems that veterinary diagnostic laboratories across the globe routinely face during meetings, research discussions, trainings and formal briefings,” Berquist said. “By aligning science to support response and recovery efforts, this system will not only aid laboratories during day-to-day operations, but also in the face of a disease outbreak.”

The technology will be piloted in five sites, including three state veterinary diagnostic laboratories, one research biocontainment facility and one federal research and foreign animal disease diagnostic laboratory.

The Institute was also represented through a poster presentation, titled “Use of Blended Learning Techniques for an International Executive Veterinary Diagnostic Laboratory Management Training: Field Trials and Lessons Learned.” The poster, which was presented by Kelly Soltysiak, Ph.D., M.S., IIAD program coordinator, was also authored by: Heather Simmons, DVM, MSVPH, IIAD program manager and theme leader for education and outreach systems; Joe Mask, Ph.D., assistant professor and Extension specialist; Christine Stetter, IIAD program specialist; Miguel Gonzalez, MIA, IIAD program coordinator; Jessica Cargill, MPH, IIAD project specialist; and Barbara Martin, M.S., founder of BM Martin Laboratory Consultants, LLC.

The poster provided an overview of the impact of and lessons learned from the Institute’s international executive laboratory management training programs that have been held in Afghanistan and Bangladesh. This fully customizable curriculum consists of blended online and in-person training and is intended to provide foundational information and skills to support veterinary diagnostic laboratory management.

“Through evaluating these two trainings, we found that, even though these groups had very different cultural and management styles, we were able to adjust and customize the training to fit the best teaching style for each group,” said Heather Simmons, DVM, MSVPH, IIAD education and outreach systems theme leader and program manager. “That resulted in 100% of trainees from both groups reporting that their participation in the workshop led to improvements in workplace operations – specifically in quality management, inventory, budgeting and management.”

In addition to survey results, both groups saw an increase in scores between their pretest and posttests and successfully completed follow-on training exercises – indicating that the approach was successful and has the potential to be widely implemented.

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