How Coronavirus Variants Are Tracked: A Tour Inside NYC’s Genome Labs

A scientist works on a project at Adriana Heguy's lab at NYU Langone's Genome Technology Center, March 16th, 2021.

A lab at the city DOH Public Health Lab where nose swabs from a Washington Heights clinic are tested for COVID-19, March 15th, 2021.

A robotic dispenser, made by Clear Labs, fills laboratory plates with samples before they're analyzed by a genomic sequencing machine from Oxford Nanopore Technologies. The combo allows researchers at New York City Health Department's Public Health Lab to hunt down coronavirus variants, March 15th, 2021.

Scientists wear personal protective gear, like these blue lab coats, while handling germ specimens, March 17th, 2021.

Adriana Heguy, the director of the Genome Technology Center, explains how genomic sequencing works, March 16th, 2021.

Medini Annavajhala, a 30-year-old postdoctoral fellow at a Columbia University lab run by Anne-Catrin Uhlemann, shows the flow cell for a palm-sized genomic sequencing machine, March 18th, 2021.

Well plates are where each case sample is deposited to be prepped and sequenced. Here are well plates at the Genome Technology Center at NYU Langone, March 16th, 2021.

An automated robot speeds up the process of pipetting at NYU Langone's Genome Technology Center, March 16th, 2021.

A genomic sequencing machine at the New York Genome Center, March 17th, 2021.