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Who could have imagined …

by Melinda Lantz | Sep 21, 2020

Posted Sept. 21 - Once again, Manchester graduates find themselves on the frontlines. Stephanie Wheeler and Nicole Heiberger, recent graduates of our pharmacogenomics program, work for a company called GeneMarkers, our partner for COVID-19 testing.

Once a week, we administer tests on campus and volunteers drive them to Kalamazoo, where the GeneMarkers labs are located. Recently, Renee and I made the five-hour round-trip drive. We wanted to do our part and to see where and how the tests are processed. The company is in a non-descript building beside a parking garage and its labs look a lot like the science labs on our campuses.

The best part of our visit was talking with Stephanie, GeneMarkers’ lab manager, about her work. She told us the company was set up to do genetics-related research and development – work she was hired to help with two years ago – and only began doing diagnostic testing when the pandemic hit. Originally, they planned to do 1,000 coronavirus tests a week and find themselves; instead, running about that many tests a day. They’ve tripled the number of people who work there and are running two shifts.

At the end of our visit, we stood with Stephanie and asked, “Who could have imagined that you would find yourself doing this work during the middle of a pandemic?” She, Nicole and their colleagues are helping dozens of organizations manage through these challenging times. As we say often, the world needs more Manchester graduates.