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Tick Testing Service Leaves UMass Amherst, Will Reopen As A New Lab

A UMass Amherst laboratory stopped its longstanding practice of testing ticks as of December, but the service is expected to restart this week, separate from the university.

TickReport typically tested 15,000 tick samples a year sent in by the public. For $50, it identified species and whether a tick carried pathogens that cause disease.

The lab's Paul Killinger said it was difficult to serve thousands of clients and hire staff under the protocols of the university.

Killinger, who will be president of the new MedZu, Inc., said the decision to separate from UMass was made after required furloughs led the lab to close last year.

"Rather than just reopening in January and then reclosing, if there was another budget crisis," Killinger said, "we really wanted to be able to say, once we reopen, we are 100% open."

According to UMass spokesman Ed Blaguszewski, TickReport will still be licensed by UMass, which will receive royalties on testing.

"Negotiations to transfer the Tick Lab to the private sector are nearly complete," Blaguszewski said in an email. "The process has been in accordance with university policies on such matters and subject to licensing of university intellectual property or proprietary materials or protocols."

Nancy Eve Cohen is a senior reporter focusing on Berkshire County. Previously she served as the editor of the Northeast Environmental Hub, a collaborative of public radio stations. Earlier in her career she was the Midwest editor for NPR in Washington, D.C. Before working in radio, she recorded sound as part of a camera crew for network television news, with assignments in Russia, Guatemala, Mexico, Cuba and in Sarajevo during the war in 1992.
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