For the past five years, Karl V. Voelkerding, MD, FCAP, has led a team focused on developing accreditation requirements and proficiency testing for next-generation sequencing (NGS) for the College of American Pathologists (CAP). His commitment was recognized this September with the CAP Distinguished Service Award, only one of which was awarded this year.
“Dr. Voelkerding is certainly a trail blazer in the field of next-generation sequencing. He played a major role in pioneering the first proficiency tests and establishing the foundational accreditation requirements for that method” said CAP President Richard C. Friedberg, MD, PhD, FCAP. “His contributions to the CAP and pathology at large have been truly groundbreaking.”
NGS technology allows scientists to rapidly sequence large amounts of genetic material, including the whole human genome; as its application has moved from research to the clinical diagnostic world, there’s a need for oversight to ensure that it is being used correctly and that accurate results are being generated. Voelkerding and his team, comprised of laboratory directors and CAP staff, created a series of standards for laboratories and proficiency assessments where “blinded” human genomic DNA samples were sent to participating laboratories for analysis and then results assessed and shared.
Richard C. Friedberg
“Dr. Voelkerding is certainly a trail blazer in the field of next-generation sequencing. He played a major role in pioneering the first proficiency tests and establishing the foundational accreditation requirements for that method.”
President of CAP
“It’s fulfilling to give back to my profession and to have an impact on the emerging area of diagnostic genomics in laboratories across the country,” says Voelkerding, who estimates that the team has collectively spent hundreds of hours working to achieve their goals. “I’m working with people who are highly recognized leaders that bring a lot of questions to the table and a lot of experience. It’s been an honor to work with them.”
Voelkerding is a professor of pathology at the University of Utah and medical director for genomics and bioinformatics at ARUP Laboratories in Salt Lake City, Utah.
“Of course, the work is not done. The area of genomics and NGS is continuing to explode,” says Voelkerding. He explains that there is a need for continuing oversight and development, refinement and expansion of accreditation requirements and proficiency testing, as NGS is used more and more for a diversity of diagnostic applications. “There’s a lot on the horizon out there, and NGS has been, and will continue to be, used to advance our diagnostic abilities and improve patient care.”
By Peta Owens-Liston, ARUP Science Communications Writer