‘We test the tests’: Atlanta-based center aims to accelerate medical diagnostic research

COVID-19 antigen home tests are photographed in New York on Wednesday, April 5, 2023. (AP Photo/Patrick Sison)

The National Institutes of Health is hoping to speed up research into medical diagnostics with the help of a few Atlanta-based institutions.

Children’s Healthcare of Atlanta, Emory University and Georgia Tech have been chosen to lead the Innovation Funnel Validation Center, following the success of the rapid development of COVID-19 at-home tests.

On Wednesday’s “Closer Look,” the center’s co-principal investigator Dr. Wilbur Lam said the team plans to build on this research and apply it toward a wider range of diseases. He said the start of the pandemic marked a notable shift in the timeline for a test to get federal approval.

“It took about 10 years for the invention of a test to actually get to market. And the goal here was to shrink it down to a year, a year and a half,” said Lam, who is also a pediatrics professor at Tech and Emory and a pediatric hematologist and oncologist at Children’s.

“What we’ve been doing is we test the tests,” said Lam, speaking about his team. “Almost every single COVID test that’s on the market has come through our center, here in Atlanta, in some shape or form.”