Message from the Director

March 24, 2022

With a thaw in the weather and a drop in the severity of the COVID pandemic, we wish you all a healthy spring! The UMGC itself is continuing to recover from two years focused on COVID-related work. In the past two months, we have seen a dramatic drop in the demand for testing and strain sequencing, hence we have made the decision to permanently ramp down those COVID workflows. By summer, we plan to have fully returned to a post-pandemic posture, refocused on research genomics.

In order to accelerate our return to normal, the UMGC plans a “Spring Cleaning” week from May 16-20, during which the entire UMGC will be re-tasked with re-organization and maintenance. During this week, we will not be processing or receiving samples, except for time-sensitive clinical (CLIA) sequencingThere are four reasons for this week-long pause:

  • First, we've had two years of unrelenting focus on COVID, which required a disruptive physical re-organization under time pressure, including the move of about half of our staff to our new location ten miles east of the Twin Cities, in Oakdale, MN. Things have become a bit messy, in other words. We need a breather during which to re-organize our labs and services.
  • Second, we are segregating our internal (ISO) services – which will remain on-campus – from our external (ESO) services, by moving our high-throughput (i.e. mostly external) services off-campus, in order to better focus our on-campus services for UMN clients.
  • Third, we are modernizing our ISO services, by focusing on cutting-edge tools (NGS, single-cell genomics, spatial genomics) and custom services. This will involve the phasing-out and facilitated out-sourcing of some of our older and commoditized offerings. (We will be sending a separate communication about such plans, and holding Zoom “listening sessions” with affected users, in the coming two months. The UMGC will not make any unilateral decisions without user feedback.)
  • Fourth, as we had announced prior to the pandemic, but have not been able to achieve during the past two years, we are going to introduce “expedited services” across our service lines. These will be more expensive, guaranteed-turnaround options for users who need turnaround that is 2-3X faster than “standard” services.

In order to effectively bring about these changes, staff will be needed to move instruments, and carry out delayed cleaning, maintenance, and inventory activities that have been delayed during the pandemic.

We thank you in advance for understanding our need to pause sample processing the week of May 16-20, and we encourage you to contact a service manager for details on your project's timing.

Dr. Kenny Beckman, Director