Mycology NRL pilots online training course on laboratory diagnosis of medically important fungi
Video demonstration of the processing of fungal culture

The National Reference Laboratory (NRL) for Mycology of the Research Institute for Tropical Medicine (RITM) successfully launched its first online training course on the Laboratory Diagnosis of Medically Important Fungi for medical technologists and physicians with a total of 150 participants. 

Hosted via Zoom, the training pilot session for physicians was conducted on November 14-16, 2022 with 42 participants, while the pilot session for medical technologists was completed on November 9-11, 2022 with a total of 108 participants. 

There is a limited amount of data on its [fungal diseases] burden globally and locally due to challenges in access to quality diagnostics and treatment,“ said RITM Laboratory Research Division Chief Dr. Amado Tandoc III, emphasizing the gap in the current health system. 

Dr. Tandoc also laments how against the backdrop of the pandemic and other emerging and re-emerging infectious diseases, fungal diseases are in general getting less attention in terms of surveillance and epidemiology, diagnostics and therapeutics, and research and development. 

We hope that this training on lab diagnosis will contribute not just to your continuing education but also ultimately to clear programs that require quality surveillance, quality testing and reporting, as well as individual preventive and control approaches,” said Dr. Tandoc.

Derived from the NRL’s hands-on training course in 2018, this online version of the program is a virtual workshop discussing the laboratory methods to detect medically important yeast and molds that are commonly found in human infections. It is designed to equip the participants with the knowledge and skills in the isolation and identification of medically important fungi and enhance their laboratory or clinical competency.

The 3-day course consisted of series of synchronous lectures covering the topics of collection, transport and processing of samples for fungal isolation and identification; histopathology of fungal infection; direct microscopic examination; laboratory methods for the isolation and identification of medically important yeast and molds; laboratory and clinical diagnosis of superficial, cutaneous, subcutaneous, systemic dimorphic and systemic opportunistic mycoses; antifungal susceptibility test; and, treatment of fungal infections. 

Aside from the lectures and video demonstrations of the different laboratory and diagnostic methods for the isolation and identification of medically important fungi, the online course included interactive discussion on case studies of the different types of mycoses which allowed the participants to apply and test their learnings in lieu of the hands-on activities.

The training session for the second batch of medical technologists is already underway and is scheduled on February 1-3, 2023. This is to accommodate the rest of the total of 359 participants who registered but failed to join the pilot session due to the limited slots available.

By Reina D. Manongsong, CEO and Markjon B. Poto, Mycology NRL