Protecting the Public Health: Microbiology Lab

We’re continuing our series on those who are on the front line of depending our public health. This week we talk to Jason Wholehan who works in the microbiology department of the Michigan Public Health Lab. Rachel loves talked about the microbiome and was particularly excited for this week! Jason told us about how their lab works on identifying bacterial diseases that pose public health challenges.

During this series, we’d especially like to thank the Biomedical Laboratory Diagnostics program here at Michigan State for their technical support of Speaking Science. The BLD program training future medical laboratory scientists and provides our studio space, recording support, and even the time our producer Jim Monahan donates to our program. Thank you BLD for supporting science outreach to the broader community!

Memorable Quotes

“A lot of the bacteria we deal with are going to be food-borne diseases or community spread…diseases. These are things you hear about in the news a lot, like salmonella, shigella, pathogenic E.coli…these are all important on a public health level because they’re all commonly spread by food.”

“The old identification with agar plates and just seeing what the bacteria on and looked like could take days and weeks. This [new identification method] takes 15 minutes. It’s almost immediate.”

“With food-borne outbreaks, if you have a factory or food producer that’s putting out unhealthy products, that’s obviously not good for the population to have these bad bacteria floating around. So that’s where the public health lab steps in and stops the spread of these bacteria.”


If you want to find out more about PulseNet, check out this link.

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