The Washington State Public Health Laboratories (PHL) was established by the legislature in the early 1900s. The laboratories were first located in downtown Seattle in the Alaska Building.
The Public Health Laboratories were moved to the Smith Tower Building. In 1982, work was begun on a new facility located just north of Seattle in the City of Shoreline. The PHL was relocated to its current building in 1985.
The laboratories are named in honor of W.R. Giedt, who was the director of the PHL during the period of its greatest changes and growth from 1943 to 1971. Under his leadership, the PHL met significant challenges in clinical and environmental public health, and adopted new technologies as soon as they were proven reliable.
Since 2001 Dr. Romesh Gautom has been the Director of the State Public Health Laboratories. Under leadership of Dr. Gautom, the PHL focused on the development and implementation of new genetic/DNA based technologies to provide scientific support and public health services focused on improving public health at local, state and national levels.
Dr. Gautom has been instrumental in developing a PFGE procedure that produces results within 24 hours for a variety of pathogens (e.g. E. coli O157:H7, Salmonella, Shigella, etc.) and became the backbone for the national PulseNet system, operated by the CDC to track national food borne disease outbreaks.