RYAN JEPSON: ryan-jepson@uiowa.edu

Microbiology partnered with the Molecular section and the Research and Development section to transition from the PulseNet system of monitoring disease outbreaks to Next-Generation Sequencing for quick genotyping.

Microbiology is the study of microorganisms in humans that are, or may be, the cause of illness. Specialized testing is performed in several areas: bacteriology, parasitology, mycobacteriology (tuberculosis) and mycology (fungi).

The Microbiology section supports IDPH, all county health agencies and hospitals throughout the state by isolating, identifying and characterizing pathogens that are of public health significance. The section also performs all rabies testing associated with human exposure and performs enteric pathogen serotyping. It uses Pulsed Field Gel Electrophoresis to determine the DNA fingerprint of bacteria and is a member of the CDCís PulseNet, which uses these fingerprints to detect and define local and multi-state foodborne outbreaks.

Selected section staff participate in the CDC Laboratory Response Network, which responds quickly to biological, chemical and radiological threats and other high priority public health emergencies. They are able to perform confirmatory testing of suspect agents of bioterrorism.


  • Validated and implemented Matrix-Assisted Laser Desorption/Ionization Time of Flight (MALDI-TOF) mass spectrometry identification for routine bacteria and yeast.

  • Participated in an APHL/CDC study with Michigan, New York, North Carolina, Florida, Minnesota and Texas to evaluate the ability of MALDI-TOF to accurately identify biothreat agents.

  • Detected more than 10 foodborne outbreaks (including five national ones) by using PulseNet testing. Outbreaks included Salmonella Poona in cucumbers (40 states involved), E. coli O157:H7 in pizza dough (20 states involved) and Salmonella Typhimurium in cantaloupe (24 states involved).

  • Assisted with the development, culture and extraction portion of an APHL/CDC TB Next Gen Sequencing project.



Other Units in Disease Control

The Office of the Director consists of 10 key functional units that enable the State Hygienic Laboratory to achieve its statutory charge set forth in the Iowa Administrative Code.

The primary mission of the Disease Control Division is to test human specimens, food and water for diseases of public health significance to protect the citizens of Iowa.

The Environmental Health Division monitors drinking water, wastewater, air, soil and food for contaminants of potential environmental and public health concern.

The Division of Administration and Finance is responsible for the management of the business practices, all Hygienic Laboratory facilities, and pre/post testing support.