Film about ASU lab response to COVID-19 to premiere online April 22

Carolyn Compton

Carolyn Compton, ASU Professor of Life Sciences and director of the ASU Biodesign Clinical Testing Laboratory that mobilized to provide coronavirus testing during the pandemic.


Since last fall, a group of 40 students in Barrett, The Honors College, at Arizona State University has been working on a large-scale honors thesis project focusing on documenting the work the ASU Biodesign Clinical Testing Laboratory did in response to the coronavirus pandemic.

This honors thesis is called The Compton Project, so named after Carolyn Compton, professor of life sciences at ASU and the lab's medical director.

Last spring, the ASU Biodesign Institute converted its research infrastructure to focus on testing, tracking and mitigating the coronavirus, and within six months of the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the United States, ASU researchers had:

  • Set up a clinically approved and certified COVID-19 testing lab.
  • Developed the first saliva-based coronavirus test in the western U.S.
  • Operated sample collection sites throughout Arizona.
  • Provided critical supplies to hospitals and other health care providers.
  • Compiled key data to track and predict the spread of the virus.
  • Made free testing available to ASU students, faculty and staff.

Realizing the importance of the ASU Biodesign Clinical Testing Laboratory, Compton felt it should be documented so that it could be referenced in the future if needed.

She recruited honors students to work under the direction of ASU faculty to track and document six areas of the lab’s operations: business, communications, quality management and training, information technology, law and laboratory analysis. In addition, a group of honors students worked with Steve Filmer, executive producer of "Catalyst" on Arizona PBS, to produce a documentary film about ABCTL.

The documentary will be shared in a webinar at 6 p.m., April 22. Registration for the webinar is now open. 

A podcast produced by Ranjani Venkatakrishnan, who earned bachelor’s and master’s degrees in journalism from ASU with undergraduate honors from Barrett, The Honors College, features Compton and honors students explaining the project’s significance.

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