Laboratory Response Network for Biological Threats (LRN-B)

National Laboratories

National laboratories, including those operated by CDC, U.S. Army Medical Research Institute for Infectious Diseases (USAMRIID), and the Naval Medical Research Center (NMRC), are responsible for specialized characterization of organisms, bioforensics, select agent activity, and handling highly infectious biological agents.

Reference Laboratories

Reference laboratories, often called LRN member laboratories, are responsible for investigation and/or referral of specimens. There are approximately 130 domestic state and local public health, military, veterinary, agriculture, food, and water testing laboratories.  These laboratories receive reagents, protocols, and specialized training to perform testing for multiple agents in high risk environmental or clinical samples.  Reference laboratories also provide training and guidance to thousands of sentinel laboratories across the U.S.

Sentinel Laboratories

Sentinel laboratories play a key role in the early detection of biological agents. Sentinel laboratories provide routine diagnostic services, rule-out, and referral steps in the identification process. These laboratories can evaluate whether samples should be sent to an LRN reference laboratory for further testing.

The LRN works with the American Society for Microbiology and state public health laboratory directors to ensure that sentinel laboratories, such as private and commercial laboratories, are part of the LRN. There are an estimated 25,000 private and commercial laboratories in the United States. The majority of these laboratories are hospital-based, clinical institutions, and commercial diagnostic laboratories.

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The LRN-B enables the United States to detect biological threats and emerging infectious disease quickly and accurately (View Fact Sheet)

	Pyramid representing lab roles in the LRN. BOTTOM: Sentinel labs for recognizing, ruling out, and referring. MIDDLE: Reference labs for confirmatory testing. TOP: National labs for definitive characterization.

Page last reviewed: April 10, 2019