American Association for Clinical Chemistry
Better health through laboratory medicine
Sylvia Blatt
1986 Outstanding Contributions through Service to the Profession of Clinical Chemistry

Sylvia Blatt will receive the 21st AACC Award for Outstanding Contributions through Service to Clinical Chemistry as a Profession. This award is sponsored by Fisher Scientific, an Allied Company.

Sylvia Blatt’s career started in the clinical chemistry laboratory of a hospital. This was followed by the position of chemist in charge of the laboratory at Morrisania Hospital. The major portion of her career has been in the public health field, first as clinical chemist, then in an administrative capacity with the New York City Department of Health.

The Health Department mounted a highly successful city-wide diabetes detection program in the 1950’s. The laboratory aspects were carried out under the supervision of Ms. Blatt. Subsequently, she served as the chemist for the anti-coronary club. This was a 10-year study to determine the effect of diet on cholesterol concentrations and the correlation between cholesterol concentration and coronary artery disease.

The Red Cross in New York City agreed to provide gamma-globulin for individuals diagnosed as agammaglobulinemic or hypogammaglobulinemic. Because gamma-globulin supplies were limited and protein electrophoresis was not done routinely, it was essential to have access to electrophoretograms to diagnose the condition correctly.

The Health Department also had as one of its functions the supervision of clinical laboratories and blood banks. In 1959, the Department had sent specimens for testing to the clinical laboratories in the city; the chemistry program was initiated and developed by Sylvia Blatt. Shortly thereafter, closer supervision of the laboratories and their personnel was demanded. From 1967–1973, she participated actively on the committees that drew up the proposed legislation. These regulations were subsequently enacted and then used as the model bill for the Clinical Laboratory Improvement Act of 1967 and for several state laws. The New York City regulations included a mandatory proficiency testing program in all areas of clinical laboratory practice.

Article XIII also covered requirements for the licensing of clinical laboratory personnel from trainee to director. Through her efforts, recognition of certification by the American Board of Clinical Chemistry and registration by the National Registry in Clinical Chemistry was accepted as fulfilling the requirements for certification as director of a clinical chemistry laboratory and technologist, respectively, by the New York City Department of Health.

The clinical chemistry proficiency-testing program in New York City was the first mandatory program. It was an on-site testing program. Because of the proximity of laboratories to each other this was a requisite in New York City. The original mailed program revealed much cooperation between laboratories.

Sylvia Blatt was invited to serve on a special panel at the Centers for Disease Control to develop a training program for individuals who would be implementing CLIA’67. The first field staff at CDC was sent to the New York City Health Department for training.

An invitation was received to serve on a committee of the American Public Health Association for quality assurance, and to appear as a member of several panels at various national meetings on quality assurance. The APHA Laboratory Section invited her to be a panelist on quality assurance at their annual meeting.

Her activities with AACC’s N.Y. Metro Section included holding every office and twice serving as chairperson of the local section. She has been a member of the Board of Directors of the AACC and also a member of Council for many years. She served as a member of the Publications Committee, the Commission on Certification of Clinical Chemists, and the Public Relations Committee.

She has been a member of the Board of Directors of the National Registry in Clinical Chemistry, chairperson of the Examination Committee of the NRCC for many years, and representative of the Board of Directors of NRCC on the Board of Governors of the Board of Registry (ASCP). She has also been the liaison of the Board of Governors to the Chemistry Examination Committee of the Board of Registry. Ms. Blatt retired in May 1985, but still serves as part-time consultant to the NY City Dept. of Health.