Dr. Steve Presley
Dr. Presley Elected as Chairperson of Editorial Board of Journal of Vector Ecology
Dr. Steve Presley was recently elected as Chairperson of the Editorial Board of the Journal of Vector Ecology (JVE). The JVE is the peer-reviewed professional journal of the Society for Vector Ecology which is a professional organization committed to solving many complex problems encountered in the field of vector biology and control. Among these are the suppression of nuisance organisms and disease vectors through integration of control elements, such as environmental management, biological control, public education, and appropriate chemical control technology. Dr. Presley also serves on the Society’s Board of Directors as the Director for the South Central United States.
Researchers: Widely Used Mosquito Control Insecticides Are Becoming Less Effective
GLENYS YOUNG OCTOBER 13, 2020
More than two-thirds of mosquitoes tested showed strong resistance to public health insecticides.
Every summer, vector control teams throughout the country work to minimize the mosquito population in their areas. After all, mosquitoes aren't just the uninvited guests at your backyard barbecue that leave you with itchy, red bumps; they can spread diseases including Zika, West Nile, St. Louis encephalitis, dengue fever, yellow fever and chikungunya.
So, what happens when those control methods become less effective? That's a question the state of Texas is facing now.
2021 Headliner Award Honoree
Texas Tech University Biological Threat Research Laboratory was awarded the 2021 Headliner Award from the Lubbock Professional Chapter Association for Women in Communications.
The award celebrates the positive contributions and achievements of individuals and organizations who make Lubbock a great place to live.
State extends Texas Tech lab’s COVID-19 work through 2022
For A-J Media
Texas Tech University’s Biological Threat Research Laboratory was the first lab in the state of Texas to begin testing for COVID-19 in February. In the five months since, it has tested more than 9,500 samples from across a 67-county region.
Steve Presley, director of both the BTRL and The Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH) in which it’s located, said the lab won’t be slowing its activities to combat the coronavirus anytime soon.
Presley and his team have several proposed vaccine-development projects in the works. And the lab has now been granted $2.23 million from the Texas Department of State Health Services (DSHS) to continue its COVID-19-related activities through April 1, 2022.
As a member of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) and DSHS’ Laboratory Response Network, the BTRL’s expertise and technical diagnostic capabilities are available to provide support to city and county public health agencies and other health care providers within a region covering about 66,000 square miles – from the northern border of the Panhandle south to the San Angelo area.
In addition to testing samples, the BTRL also provides the region’s public health departments, hospitals and clinics with the viral transport medium they need to safely package and transport samples to the BTRL for testing.
Presley specified that the BTRL is not involved with surveillance testing, like that offered through drive-thru testing locations.
“Because we’re part of the CDC’s Laboratory Response Network, our mission is to test critically ill patients and hospital inpatient individuals who are suspected of having COVID-19,” Presley said, “but we also test health care workers and emergency responders who have a confirmed exposure to COVID-19.”
That said, the lab has plenty of room to increase testing. That’s due, in large part, to a collaborative partnership between Texas Tech and the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center, which established the Texas Tech/TTUHSC COVID-19 Testing Team early in the pandemic to increase how many tests could be done each day.
“We’re not yet even close to our full capacity,” Presley said. “We can significantly increase the number we’re doing daily.”
Most importantly, they can do so safely – their record speaks for itself.
“We’ve been operating at least 16 hours a day, seven days a week, for 130 days,” Presley said. “That is 2,080 hours – roughly 12,500 person-hours – without any of the testing crew becoming positive for COVID-19 or having any laboratory safety issues.”
In addition to team members involved in the hands-on testing, Presley credits the administrative staff members who volunteered to continue working – doing the paperwork, facility maintenance and other often-thankless tasks – as well as university administrators who provided support.
“Texas Tech University is very proud of the hard work and dedication of the staff, volunteers and leadership team of our institutional testing laboratory,” said Joseph A. Heppert, Tech’s vice president for research and innovation. “These individuals have enabled this CDC-affiliated laboratory to provide high-quality test results for patients showing COVID-19 symptoms throughout the West Texas region. We are extremely grateful to the Texas Department of State Health Services for this financial support, which will allow us to continue serving the citizens of the state throughout this crisis.”
Texas Tech Laboratory Was State's First to Offer Coronavirus Testing
Two decades ago, Texas Tech created The Institute of Environmental and Human Health. In the age of COVID-19, that investment is paying dividends.
Nearly 23 years ago, the Texas Tech University System's Board of Regents unanimously approved the creation of The Institute of Environmental and Human Health (TIEHH), a new institute to assess toxic chemical impacts on the physical and human environment. Since then, its growth has been exponential.
Proposed as a joint venture between Texas Tech University and the Texas Tech University Health Sciences Center (TTUHSC), TIEHH fused the resources of Texas Tech's academic campus and its premier medical facility to address environmental and human health issues from a multidisciplinary perspective.
TTU Biological Threat Research Lab Closely Monitors COVID-19
When it was realized that COVID-19 was rapidly spreading around the globe and a pandemic was imminent, the TTU Biological Threat Research Lab team at Texas Tech University immediately began preparing to test samples from patients suspected to be infected with COVID-19. The TTU team was the first LRN lab in Texas to begin testing suspected COVID-19 cases in late February. On March 17, they detected and reported the first COVID-19 case in Lubbock.
As the number of COVID-19 cases in the United States and particularly in Texas increased, it was necessary to significantly increase the capacity of the lab to test high numbers of clinical samples every day. With coordination through the TTU Vice President for Research and Innovation, a collaborative partnership between TTU and TTUHSC was established to increase the capacity of the TTU Biological Threat Research Lab to test for COVID-19.
Through the TTU-TTUHSC partnership, more than 30 volunteers from both campuses have joined the original five person TTU Biological Threat Research Lab team to create the TTU-TTUHSC COVID-19 Testing Team. Volunteers to assist in this project include TTU and TTUHSC faculty members, research staff, graduate students, as well as citizens that have no affiliation with either university but want to help “flatten the curve” in our community.
As both an academic research lab and a public health diagnostic testing lab, the TTU Biological Threat Research Lab has been extensively involved in detecting, monitoring, and researching outbreaks of infectious diseases of humans and animals occurring throughout Texas since 2003. The public health diagnostic testing capability of the TTU Biological Threat Research Lab is designated as a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Laboratory Response Network (LRN) facility. The expertise and technical diagnostic capabilities available in the TTU Biological Threat Research Lab work directly with the Texas Department of State Health Services to provide support to city and county public health agencies and other healthcare providers within a 67 county region. The TTU Biological Threat Research Lab team has provided public health emergency diagnostic testing for numerous actual and potential disease outbreaks over the years, including chikungunya, dengue fever, Ebola, seasonal influenza, West Nile fever, Zika fever, and now COVID-19.