WICHITA — Less than two months after its opening, the Wichita State’s Molecular Diagnostics Lab is digitally transforming the COVID-19 landscape, combining medical laboratory sciences, advanced robotics, and automation to process thousands of tests for Kansas communities each week.

"When so many of our Kansas communities are suffering from the health and economic consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic, Wichita State is working to mitigate the spread of the virus," said Rick Muma, interim president of Wichita State. "Not only is this an opportunity to serve the people of our state, but it’s also part of our mission as the state’s top urban research university."

MDL is serving close to 400 organizations in 16 Kansas counties. The lab is currently testing about 1,500 tests per day with a 24-hour turnaround on results, but it has the capacity to process about 3,000 additional tests on a daily basis. More equipment and staff can be added if testing needs grow beyond the lab’s current capacity.

Wichita State’s MDL is looking for organization and community partners to help with test collection. To learn more about specimen collection training, policies and procedures, and the partnership process, visit the MDL website. Test processing is currently done at no cost to most of the partner organizations or the communities they serve, and Wichita State is reimbursed through federal and state COVID-19 stimulus funds.

Muma said the MDL is an outstanding illustration of Wichita State’s innovative approach to problem-solving.

"What we’ve done is taken the best practices for COVID-19 testing, and we’ve added our expertise in the fields of robotics and automation to create a remarkable high-volume laboratory," he said. "This kind of digital transformation is an extraordinary example of Shocker Nation’s innovative spirit."

The high-volume MDL is an important weapon in the fight against the spread of the virus in that it allows for precise and quick quarantine and treatment of those infected.

"This pandemic has brought forth uncertainty and an unprecedented set of challenges throughout the world, but the MDL will be one of our state’s best weapons for combating and reducing the spread of COVID-19," Muma said.