On Monday, March 16, Dr. Melissa Miller and her team began testing patients for COVID-19 at UNC Medical Center.
Miller sprang into action well before the virus captured the attention of the world. For weeks in 2019, as director of the Clinical Microbiology and Molecular Microbiology Labs at the UNC Medical Center, she led the development of the test, which is now easing demand on the state health department and LabCorp.
On day one, Miller’s lab had the capacity to process 120 samples for COVID-19 testing. By the end of the week, the lab increased its capacity to 300 a day, and UNC Health has purchased new equipment to boost testing capacity to 500 samples a day.
“Quickly creating and validating tests for emerging pathogens has always been part of my passion and commitment, ever since I was a fellow here during SARS,” Miller said. “We have developed a high-quality test, we have the infrastructure to roll it out, and are ready to help the people of our state.”
Miller and UNC School of Medicine Dean Wesley Burks, M.D., were featured on the Today ShowOpens in new window on March 19, 2020, for introducing a test that produces results in only four hours. The FDA allowance limits the use of Miller’s test for patients at UNC Medical Center, UNC REX Hospital and UNC Health affiliate hospitals across North Carolina, as well as a select number of UNC Health clinic locations.