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WVU graduate student leads COVID-19 mobile testing response for West Virginia National Guard

young woman in mask and military clothes in conversation with doctor in lab coat

Clay Marsh, Vice President and Executive Dean for Health Sciences at West Virginia University, met West Virginia National Guard Capt. Samantha Fabian, who is also a WVU graduate student, during a mobile testing event Tuesday, Aug. 11 at WVU. The mobile testing laboratory expedites testing by offering same-day results. (WVU Photo)

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Following her education and hands-on laboratory experience at West Virginia University, graduate student Samantha Fabian is leading the West Virginia National Guard’s COVID-19 mobile testing laboratories. 

WVNG Capt. Fabian serves as the program director for the mobile testing laboratories, based in Morgantown and Charleston, which were the first in the nation to be approved by the Department of Defense.  

“Leading the charge for mobile testing has been a very exciting and rewarding experience,” Fabian said. “I have appreciated the opportunity to combine the skills and education I obtained from WVU with my military experience to establish a capability to help respond to this pandemic.”

Fabian holds degrees in Animal Science, Applied and Environmental Microbiology, Genetics and Developmental Biology, and she is currently working toward her Ph.D. in Genetics and Developmental Biology at WVU. 

The WVNG’s mobile testing labs — one based in Morgantown, which covers both panhandles and sites in the northern part of the state; and one based in Charleston, which covers central and southern West Virginia — became operational April 17. 

When the West Virginia Department of Health and Human Resources alerts the WVNG that a rapid testing response is needed, one of the two mobile units will deploy within 45 minutes. The mobile testing labs can analyze more than 30 samples in eight hours, making it an ideal solution for rapid testing in hotspots. 

Fabian said the mobile labs facilitate expedient testing anywhere, no matter how remote. The particular type of testing also offers same day results, whereas traditional methods can take 48 to 72 hours for results.

“Being able to give people peace of mind by providing rapid test results and keeping others safe from potential exposure has been very rewarding,” Fabian said. “I am happy to be able to provide this testing capability to the state to aid in the pandemic response efforts.”

Fabian has not only directed the program, but she has led the northern response. Maj. Brian Ellis, WVNG deputy G-1, has led the southern response. 

“Capt. Fabian has been a tremendous asset for our pandemic response and is a prime example of the exceptional quality of people we have in our organization,” said Maj. Gen. James Hoyer, Adjutant General of the WVNG. “Her expertise and educational background from WVU have enabled us to establish a much-needed capability for the state of West Virginia and we are proud of the work she and her team have done over the last five months.”



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