Speakers' Bureau Directory: Culbreath

Karissa Culbreath
Degree: PhD
Employer: University of New Mexico Health Sciences Center
Albquerque, New Mexico  87131


Primary Employer: Hospital/Clinic; Other N/A
Scientific Specialty: Clinical microbiology or immunology; Other N/A
Job Title: Scientific Director – Infectious Disease, Assistant Professor, Department of Pathology
Years in position: 3
Presentation Type: N/A
Video Call Type:N/A
Day to day responsibilities:
I am responsible for directing the clinical microbiology laboratory for a regional reference laboratory. In this role, I oversee the infectious disease laboratory testing for much of the State of New Mexico. I work with the technologists in the laboratory to answer questions about the cultures that they are working on and troubleshoot their challenges with organism identification and susceptibility testing. In this role, I also oversee the development and implementation of new tests in the laboratory for improved diagnostic capabilities. I serve as a member of the clinical team with my physician colleagues to provide my interpretation of test results that will impact patient care. Another important aspect of my job is teaching of medical students, residents and fellows in didactic lectures on the principles of clinical microbiology and infectious disease.

What do you love about your job?
In this job, each day is a new challenge. Sometimes it is a scientific challenge with an organism that is difficult to identify. Other times, I face a clinical challenge with a disease that is difficult to diagnose. There is no limit to the challenges that may be faced in this job and each challenge is an opportunity to learn and improve my skills.

Degrees, experience, license(s), and skills required for position:
I have a PhD in Microbiology and Immunology and completed an ASM Fellowship in Medical and Public Health Microbiology. Upon completion of this fellowship, I was board certified by the American Board of Medical Microbiology. This training and certification positioned me for success in my current position. Additional skills include: dedication to hard work, excellent communication and collaboration and strong leadership capabilities.

Tips/Advice for how to secure a job in microbiology upon graduation:
I am thrilled with the decision I made to pursue a career in clinical microbiology. I would highly suggest exploration clinical laboratory medicine as a career for students at various levels of study. Bachelors and Masters level students may consider a career in Medical Laboratory Technology and explore programs that will provide that career track. PhD students should consider one of the ASM approved programs in Medical and Public Health Microbiology for training in Clinical Microbiology. This career provides great fulfillment, enrichment and financial stability for individuals with an interest in a career in microbiology.