EAST STROUDSBURG, MONROE COUNTY (WBRE/WYOU) – One woman’s vision has grown into something big and potentially life changing. A dedication ceremony was held Wednesday for the late founder of East Stroudsburg University’s ‘Northeast Wildlife DNA Lab’, which as of this month, tests ticks for free.
The lab has become the leading center for Lyme Disease research in the Northeastern United States, testing about 56,000 ticks to date. It’s an important resource for Pennsylvania residents, especially this time of year.
“We’re the center of Lyme Disease in the country, really eastern Pennsylvania, and we’re expecting a huge tick year because of the environmental conditions and the moisture,” says Matthew Wallace, Chair of ESU’s Biological Sciences Department.
Doctor Jane Huffman founded the growing facility in 2005. She worked in East Stroudsburg University’s biology department.
Wallace adds, “and she left an enormous legacy. She trained over 150 graduate students in our department and exposed them to so many different areas of her research.”
She passed away in 2017, at age 64, after a hard-fought battle with breast cancer.
“Jane was always eager to encourage and sponsor the wonderful people that you have here,” smiles her husband, Douglas Roscoe.
Nicole Chinnici is the lab’s current director.
She says the lab recently received a $500,000 dollar state grant, which allows Pennsylvania residents to have ticks tested for free. Before the grant took effect earlier this month, people had to pay out of pocket.
“The ultimate goal of this is not only to provide the resident with early detection of exposure to a disease, but also to track across the state the distribution of what tick species we’re seeing and the diseases that are within them,” explains Nicole Chinnici, lab director.
The free, basic testing covers four tick-borne diseases. You can order a more comprehensive panel at a subsidized rate.