Adjunct Professor Gerard Caprio ’99 Put Lab Skills to Use During Pandemic
By all standards, Gerard Caprio has a busy career. The 1999 alum, who has worked in research and in government, now teaches at Allentown Central Catholic High School and has been an adjunct professor at DeSales University for the past 20 years. Still, his schedule didn’t stop him from jumping in to help a local laboratory during the COVID-19 crisis.
“When I was watching TV and hearing all the information about COVID, I was doing research on my own about the virus and about its detection,” he says. “So I wanted to do something to use my skills.”
Caprio double majored in biology and chemistry at DeSales before going on to get his master’s degree in biotechnology from William Paterson University of New Jersey. The trained molecular biologist found a local laboratory that’s approved to perform COVID testing and asked how he could help.
Inside the laboratory, Caprio extracted nucleic acids from testing swabs and then performed polymerase chain reaction or PCR testing—the very same process he teaches his students at DeSales—to determine whether patients are positive or negative for COVID-19.
“We’re using the same technology that I teach in my physiological chemistry class and in my crime lab class. The foundation of this test for COVID is PCR and my students are exposed to this technique.”
Although Caprio’s work at the laboratory has ended, he spent about a month processing an estimated 700 samples. Despite the long hours he put in during this time, he’s just glad that he was able to use his skills for the greater good.
“I’m just fortunate that I have the education, the experience, and the skill where I was able to walk into a laboratory and help out immediately. I have a lot of gratitude for DeSales and the professors that I’ve had to provide me the scientific foundation to help out in a situation like this.”