Programs related to Nebraska’s Epidemiology, Laboratory, and Capacity (ELC) Cooperative Agreement reside in the DHHS Division of Public Health. Epidemiology and Informatics are co-located within a single agency unit both organizationally and physically. We believe this set-up is a model for integrating these interdependent public health disciplines. Critical to this integration is cross training that has been stressed over the past five years. Many of our epidemiologists have been either project leads or deeply involved in launching or leading informatics initiatives including electronic laboratory reporting (ELR), health alert network, and syndromic surveillance. All of these initiatives were conceived and initiated by epidemiologists who continued to build on past successes. Much of the knowledge and competencies accumulated by our epidemiology staff has been derived from their experiences in leading or assisting in such projects. Similarly, our work with the state’s public health laboratory originated from needs experienced in the early 2000s when epidemiologists and laboratorians collaborated to build a system that shared laboratory orders and results stored in the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s laboratory information system (LIS). This system offered public health programs and epidemiology staff the needed laboratory information to more efficiently perform their duties. By 2003, epidemiology and the laboratory had jointly developed a system for ELR of laboratory results from the University’s LIS to our NEDSS Base System, which was established in parallel at the state health department. We continue to collaborate closely with the laboratory regarding informatics processes, and to maintain shared involvement in epidemiology and laboratory projects to better detect and control pathogens of particular importance to public health. These include influenza, West Nile virus, other Arboviruses, toxigenic E. coli, and many others and also in
cludes whole genome sequencing and antibiotic resistance testing. Nebraska looks forward to building on nearly two decades of progress to further our ELC-funded programs to even greater success to ultimately better serve our state’s population and protect the public’s health.