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About Laboratory Medicine

The Department of Laboratory Medicine was established in the School of Medicine at the University of Washington in July 1969 to integrate the clinical laboratories at of Washington Medical Center and Harborview Medical Center. Currently, the department employs over 850 people who work at University of Washington Medical Center, Harborview Medical Center, Seattle Cancer Care Alliance, Northwest Medical Center and many other clinical and research facilities in the area.

UW Medicine has a single mission: To Improve the Health of the Public

UW Medicine's "Patients Are First" Pillars are the foundation for setting our organizational goals and direction. They provide alignment and accountability for our health system with measurable and incremental goals to raise performance from year to year. The pillars are:

  • Focus on Serving the Patient/Family
  • Provide the Highest Quality Care
  • Become the Employer of Choice
  • Practice Fiscal Responsibility

In support of the UW Medicine mission and Patients Are First Pillars,
the Department of Laboratory Medicine's Credo is:
  • The personal dignity of each patient served will be courteously maintained.
  • Each student will be offered maximum opportunity to learn and to acquire professional competence.
  • All members of the faculty and staff will be encouraged to achieve professional fulfillment.
  • The Department is committed to vigorous application of the affirmative action policies of the University of Washington.


The primary purpose of the Department of Laboratory Medicine is to serve as a regional resource for clinical laboratory services required for patient care and for educational programs in Laboratory Medicine.

Patient Care

The patient care services provided will exemplify the highest achievable quality and will serve as a model of excellence for other clinical laboratories across the nation. The Department will be managed to minimize the cost of delivering these services without compromising quality, and they will be made available to patients throughout the region as well as patients in the two University of Washington teaching medical centers.


The Department will be organized to facilitate effective development of educational programs for undergraduate, graduate, and post-doctoral students. These programs will include opportunities for undergraduate students to work for Bachelor of Science degrees in Medical Laboratory Science and for graduate students to obtain Master of Science degrees. Courses in Laboratory Medicine will be conducted for medical students, and training will also be provided for residents and fellows seeking specialty or subspecialty certification in Molecular Genetic Pathology, Clinical Chemistry, Hematopathology or Microbiology. The faculty and staff of the Department will also represent a resource for residents training in clinical departments who desire exposure to related areas in Laboratory Medicine and for clinical laboratory technologists, physicians and scientists desiring courses in continuing medical education.


The Department will foster an environment conducive to the performance of high quality research and development, and consultation and referral services will also be provided for investigators throughout the University. The Department of Laboratory Medicine is internationally recognized as a center for clinical and basic science research. The Department's faculty, staff, and trainees are involved in research and development activities that include developing the latest laboratory tests, creating new vaccines, inventing and patenting cutting edge technology, and elucidating basic cellular processes in health and disease.

Background and History

The Department of Laboratory Medicine was established in the School of Medicine at the University of Washington as of July 1, 1969. Dr. Paul Strandjord was recruited from the University of Minnesota to be chairman of the new department. One of the charges given to the new department was to integrate the clinical laboratories at the University Hospital, (UH, now UW Medical Center) and Harborview Medical Center (HMC), and to eliminate duplication of services wherever such could be accomplished without compromising the quality of patient care or educational programs of the school.

Prior to this time, responsibility for clinical laboratory services were shared by four departments. At the UH, Dr. Alex Kaplan in the Department of Biochemistry was Director of the Clinical Chemistry laboratory, Dr. John Sherris in the Department of Microbiology was Director of the Clinical Microbiology laboratory. The Departments of Pathology and Medicine shared responsibility for provision of Clinical Laboratory Hematology services. At HMC the clinical laboratories were under the direction of the Department of Pathology and the Departments of Pathology and Medicine shared responsibility for direction of the Hematology laboratory.

The department struggled in its early years. However, with the help of dedicated faculty and staff the department has evolved to become one of the several strongest Departments of Laboratory Medicine in the country, and its national reputation is well established. The foundation is sound, and traditions of excellence are firmly in place. We look forward to the opportunity to continue to serve our school, University and region.


Last updated: 05/18/2018