Sheldon Campbell, MD, PhD, associate director of Yale Medicine’s Clinical Microbiology Lab, helps ensure that tests designed to detect conditions like urinary tract infections, tuberculosis, or fungal diseases remain up-to-date and accurate. “I like to be involved in quality control and assurance of testing,” Dr. Campbell says. This means that he and his team in the lab constantly look for ways to improve testing procedures and how timely results get reported back to physicians, for example.
“We have a very comprehensive microbiology lab, where we conduct testing on esoteric diseases or infections,” Dr. Campbell says. His job becomes particularly challenging when a microorganism such as a bacterium, fungus, or virus cannot be identified through regular testing. “For instance, many unusual fungi are hard to identify microscopically,” he says. “We use DNA sequencing on those samples.”
As tests and testing methods continue to improve, Dr. Campbell expects that the clinical microbiology lab will play an even large role in diagnosing diseases and identifying the organisms that cause them. One quickly advancing area is diagnostic virology, which could help pinpoint a patient’s type of upper-respiratory infection.
As associate professor of laboratory medicine at Yale School of Medicine, Dr. Campbell also teaches microbiology to medical students—using his guitar. Nicknamed “The Singing Microbiologist” by the American Society for Microbiology, Dr. Campbell regularly adapts well-known tunes to fit his topic of choice. During one session, he jammed out with “When the Ticks Go Marching In.”