The Association of Public Health Laboratories works to strengthen laboratory systems serving the public’s health in the United States and globally.

The Association of Public Health Laboratories (APHL) represents state and local governmental health laboratories in the United States. Its members, known as “public health laboratories,” monitor and detect health threats to protect the health and safety of Americans. Founded over 50 years ago as a forum for state public health laboratory directors, APHL brings together laboratories and staff from multiple disciplines, including public health, environmental, agricultural and food safety laboratories.

APHL collaborates with laboratory and public health partners to assure effective surveillance, detection and response to health threats. It works closely with federal agencies, including the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Health Resources and Services Administration, the Food and Drug Administration and the Environmental Protection Agency, to develop and execute national health initiatives. During public health emergencies, APHL operates as a coordinating center for laboratory response. 

APHL works internationally as well as nationally to develop effective national laboratory systems and expand access to quality diagnostic testing services. With over 20 years' experience in 31 countries on five continents, it is recognized internationally as a leader in laboratory science and practice. It supports ministries of health with consulting services including laboratory strategic planning, twinning partnerships, laboratory information management systems, quality assurance and training.

APHL’s core membership is comprised of state and local governmental health laboratories in the United States, including public health, environmental, agricultural science and food safety laboratories. Representatives from federal agencies, nonprofit organizations, corporations and interested individuals also participate in the association. International participation is expanding in response to the globalization of disease and APHL’s active global health program. Total APHL membership numbers over 800.

Laboratory Science and Practice

Laboratory Systems: APHL works with local, state and federal health partners to strengthen the laboratory system in the US. Examples include the Laboratory Efficiencies Initiative, a CDC-APHL collaboration to maintain essential public health testing services despite decreases in funding, and the Laboratory System Improvement Program (L-SIP), which advances the efficacy of state and local public health laboratory systems through a guided process of evaluation and system improvements.

Public Health Informatics: APHL is a leader in development of data exchange capacity for public health laboratory informatics systems in the United States and globally. In the US, APHL, working with CDC, stood up a laboratory information management system (LIMS) that established reliable laboratory data exchange capability between state public health laboratories and CDC. Now it is partnering with public health agencies to help them exchange data using a fast and potentially more streamlined process. APHL also collaborates with Ministries of Health in Southeast Asia and Africa to develop information technology operations that improve diagnosis and treatment of people living with HIV.

Laboratory Science: APHL advances public health laboratory diagnostics by supporting development of new methods and technologies. It also publishes protocols, guidance documents and other materials to assure the quality of laboratory testing.

Emergency Response: APHL collaborates with state, national and international health entities to respond to disease outbreaks, natural disasters, terrorist attacks and other health emergencies. It convenes laboratories and health partners to coordinate laboratory response activities and provides technical assistance to participating institutions. In addition, APHL supports the nation’s emergency laboratory network, the Laboratory Response Network, with training, quality improvement, surge capacity and exercise planning, policy development and outreach to partners.

Research: APHL routinely assesses the capacity and capability of US public health laboratories and disseminates findings in reports, briefs and web articles. It leverages this data from surveys and other research projects to inform laboratory standards and practices, policy and training. 

Information/Publications: APHL publishes reports and briefs profiling developments in public health laboratory science, practice, management and training. It publishes a blog, quarterly magazine and newsfeed, and is also active on social media.

Laboratory Education and Training

Laboratory Training: APHL offers high quality continuing education programs to strengthen the skills of laboratorians and promote excellence in laboratory practice. Continuing education credits (PACE® and FL CE) are available for most courses. The association also sponsors training programs through the National Laboratory Training Network (NLTN), a collaboration with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Leadership Development: APHL directs the National Center for Public Health Laboratory Leadership, which fosters the development of emerging leaders and expands knowledge of public health laboratory management. The association also manages fellowship and traineeship programs in Emerging Infectious Disease and Environmental Health.

National Conferences: APHL convenes national conferences and colloquia on critical issues in laboratory science. Recent meetings have examined aspects of molecular diagnostics, public health informatics, tuberculosis, food safety, biomonitoring and newborn screening. Its annual meeting attracts laboratorians, health officials and health policy makers from across the US.

Public Health Policy

Federal Liaison: APHL connects US public health laboratories with federal agencies, serving as a conduit for exchange of information. It also advises agencies on development and implementation of national health initiatives.

Member Resource: APHL researches and responds to inquiries, represents members at national forums, and provides guidance on federal protocols and directives.

Policy Analysis: APHL issues statements on pending legislation and regulations, provides expert testimony, comments on proposed rulemaking and disseminates educational materials on priority issues.