Speakers' Bureau Directory: Dunn

Jim Dunn
Degree: PhD
Employer: Cook Children’s Medical Center
Fort Worth, Texas  76104


Primary Employer: Hospital/Clinic; Other N/A
Scientific Specialty: Clinical microbiology or immunology; Other N/A
Job Title: Director, Clinical Microbiology Laboratory
Years in position: 11 years
Day to day responsibilities:
Probably the most important part of my daily responsibilities is to communicate and consult with clinicians regarding infectious disease diagnostic testing for patients. I assist them in which tests should be utilized and how to interpret the results. Working together we are able to provide the best possible management for patients. I also have oversight over testing in bacteriology, virology, mycology, parasitology, and molecular diagnostics. Several times a day I am at the bench reviewing plates, microscopy stains, cell cultures, and PCR tests. We also typically have a number of research studies ongoing for which I develop protocols, evaluate data, and interpret results.

What do you love about your job?
I appreciate that my expertise in infectious disease diagnostics and how we conduct testing in the laboratory has a significant impact on patient management and outcomes. When we can rapidly and accurately produce meaningful results in the laboratory, patients can be assured they are going to get the most appropriate treatment. And this typically leads to good outcomes.

I also enjoy the fact that there continues to be new and interesting things to learn about infectious diseases. There are novel organisms causing infection that we need to be aware of, new technologies and tests that help us do our job better, and unusual patient cases that we assist with.

Degrees, experience, license(s), and skills required for position:
I’ve always been a science “geek” and liked being in the laboratory; attributes that make my current position enjoyable. Although I’ve been in my current position as a lab director for about 11 years, my experience in the laboratory goes back more than 20 years when I started at the front desk of the clinical lab, then to the bench as a technologist in hematology and microbiology, then to the research lab for my Ph.D., and 2 years of post-doctoral training in medical and public health microbiology. So I have certification as a Medical Technologist with my bachelor’s degree and, after my post-doctoral fellowship, board certification with the American Board of Medical Microbiology. I will say that it was extremely useful to have that early experience in the clinical laboratory at the bench prior to taking on a lab director position.

Tips/Advice for how to secure a job in microbiology upon graduation:
There are a tremendous number of opportunities available to someone with knowledge and skills in microbiology. It’s often a matter of where to apply that expertise. Clinical and public health laboratories offer a chance to be involved in testing human specimens and the results can be extremely important for individual patients as well as larger communities.