by Suzanne Restaino
Director of Marketing and Communications, Gilson

The development of simple and rapid diagnostic screening tests was critically important in helping control the COVID-19 pandemic. Expanding rapid testing, isolating infected individuals quickly, and implementing contact tracing helped and continues to help limit disease spread.

At Gilson, we help life scientists at the bench achieve more productive research and verifiable data. And during the pandemic, we’ve helped support critical testing workflows and other COVID-related initiatives.

We have lab solutions and systems – tools, technology, services, and resources – that can be integrated into laboratory workflows. These solutions help improve efficiency, safety, and reliability (enhancing sample integrity).

Product lines include manual and automated liquid handling, benchtop products, and our latest Bluetooth® electronic pipettes with the TRACKMAN® Connected platform.

Two important examples of our COVID partnerships involved the SHIELD T3 and SafeGuard Surveillance.


Responding to long test result turnaround times, University of Illinois researchers developed a saliva-based COVID-19 test called I-COVID. The test is easier to administer than swab-based tests and cost-effective, and results can be obtained in six to 12 hours. Gilson liquid handling products are used to facilitate the workflow.

SHIELD T3, an organization founded by the U of I to help expand I-COVID both nationally and overseas, noted that testing had to work in concert with active targeting of people who needed to be tested an active isolation/quarantine program. Their system has a high degree of sensitivity, allowing individuals to be isolated sooner and reduce disease spread faster.

Gilson liquid handling tools that were incorporated in their testing workflow include PLATEMASTER®, PIPETMAX®, and TRACKMAN® Connected, contributing to efficient and consistent testing processes. They also used other Gilson pipettes in their work, allowing for flexibility and the ability to have “the right tool for the job,” as noted in our recent case study.

SafeGuard Surveillance

COVID-19 also disrupted “normal” school schedules, resulting in some school districts going full remote or implementing hybrid in-person/remoting learning schedules for students and their families.

As part of continued efforts to reopen schools safely, Gilson was proud to partner with Dr. Ed Campbell, a molecular virologist at Loyola University Chicago’s Stritch School of Medicine and founder of SafeGuard Surveillance, a company running COVID-19 surveillance testing for school districts in the suburban Chicago area.

Dr. Campbell worked with teachers and administrators to begin a COVID-19 surveillance program that would implement robust testing for both students and staff. The program is based on a reverse transcription loop-mediated isothermal amplification (RT-LAMP) approach developed by colleagues David O’Conner and Shelby O’Conner at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Sarah Sawyer at the University of Colorado.

The RT-LAMP-based test uses saliva instead of a nasal swab to perform infection surveillance of populations such as schools. SafeGuard Surveillance incorporated Gilson’s PLATEMASTER®, PIPETMAN® Pipettes, and PIPETMAN® DIAMOND Tips into their workflow.

Campbell reported that the process helped keep kids in school and prevented the district from shutting down in a few instances.

Proud to Promote Life Sciences

These are just a few examples of how Gilson has adapted to promote efficiencies and reliability for scientists on the pandemic’s frontline. Our mission is to enable verifiable science to support product development and improve outcomes, even during some of the most challenging times most of us have faced in our lifetimes.

Being a BioForward Wisconsin member and connecting with other people and companies who are innovating at the bench drives us to do better, too.

We are proud to be part of the Wisconsin-based biohealth ecosystem seeing real change and impact in our region and across the U.S. and the world.