Future Public Health Scientists Graduate From Wadsworth Center With Master of Science In Laboratory Sciences Degrees

ALBANY, N.Y. (July 15, 2015) - The New York State Department of Health's (DOH) Wadsworth Center today conferred Master of Science in Laboratory Sciences (MLS) degrees upon four individuals that comprise this unique program's second class of graduates.

"The MLS program provides graduates with hands-on laboratory experience that can only be found here in New York State," said New York State Health Commissioner Dr. Howard Zucker. "It is essential that the next generation of research scientists are prepared to tackle whatever public health challenges may come our way. After spending the past two years working alongside some of the nation's top public health scientists, these students now have the tools they need to begin their promising careers."

The one-of-a-kind MLS program is offered directly through DOH's Wadsworth Center, New York State's public health laboratory. In addition to classroom-based coursework, the program affords students 1,200 hours of hands-on, practical experience in the laboratory, including an eight-month capstone research project mentored by public health scientists. Students' work is utilized in the Wadsworth Laboratory and some has been published in scientific journals.

The two-year, full-time program allows for one-on-one mentoring with Wadsworth's leading scientists and researchers as well as laboratory rotations in Biomonitoring, Instrumentation and Methods of Analysis, Molecular Biology and Genetics, Clinical Biochemistry, Microbiology and Infectious Disease, and Immunological Technologies, with specific emphasis on the ever changing activities of a public health laboratory. Students accepted into the program are not charged tuition. The Wadsworth Center awards up to 5 scholarships in the amount of $10,000 annually to individual students based on academic merit and funding availability. Beginning with the class of 2016, one second year student will be awarded a Fenton Fellowship to honor the invaluable contributions of John Fenton II, PhD, FASB, a former Wadsworth scientist.

The four graduates of 2014's inaugural class have accepted positions at various laboratories within Wadsworth Center, including the Biodefense Laboratory, the Virology Laboratory and Newborn Screening Program.

Wadsworth Center Class of 2015 MLS graduates are:

Kaleigh Erin Ahern

Undergraduate Degree: BS in Environmental Engineering and Technology, Union College

Capstone Project: "Investigation of Inherited Chromosomally Integrated Human Herpesvirus 6 in Encephalitis Patients by Droplet Digital PCR"

Francesco Criscuolo

Undergraduate Degree: BS in Biology and Chemistry, Mount Saint Mary College

Capstone Project: "Development of a Next Generation Sequencing Assay to Study Intra-host Diversity and Inter-host Transmission of Hepatitis C Virus"

Joseph Shea

Undergraduate Degree: BS in Biology, Siena College

Capstone Project: "Utilization of Whole Genome Sequencing for Mycobacterium tuberculosis Testing in a Public Health Laboratory"

Greicy Zayas

Undergraduate Degree:BS in Clinical Laboratory Sciences, SUNY Stony Brook University

Capstone Project: "Detecting and Distinguishing Kinetoplastid Parasites"

Following in the footsteps of this year's MLS graduates, two students in the class of 2016 are completing year one of the program, and four students have been accepted for the class of 2017.

For additional information on the Wadsworth Center's MLS program visit: http://laboratorysciences.wadsworth.org/