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Megan Cleveland (Fed)

Research Biologist

Megan received a Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Human Genetics from the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, where she studied pancreas development in mice. In her work at NIST, Megan focuses on projects related to clinical diagnostics and biomanufacturing. She is particularly interested in digital PCR and next generation sequencing. 

Megan led the production of NIST SRM 2365 (BK Virus DNA Quantitative Standard) and NIST SRM 2367 (JC Virus DNA Quantitative Standard). She also worked with the Genome in a Bottle (GiaB) consortium to examine results from targeted sequencing panels on GiaB benchmark genomes. Targeted sequencing panels may offer a cost effective way of characterizing a high number of clinically important genomic regions.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, Megan produced Research Grade Test Material (RGTM 10169) for SARS-CoV-2 RNA. She worked with the Public Affairs Office to make a video about the creation of this material. At present, RGTM 10169 has been distributed to over 170 labs in 25 countries.

Improving COVID-19 Testing
Improving COVID-19 Testing
Working alone in the lab, but with remote support from her colleagues, NIST research biologist Megan Cleveland produced synthetic gene fragments from SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This material, which is non-infectious and safe to handle, can help manufacturers produce more accurate and reliable diagnostic tests for the disease. Watch this video to learn more about this project and see what it’s like to work in a lab during a pandemic.

Megan is also interested in using NGS for the detection of possible contaminants in biologically produced materials. She co-organized a NIST/FDA workshop in 2019 for Standards for NGS Detection of Viral Adventitious Agents in Biologics and Biomanufacturing. A summary of the output of the workshop was published in 2020. She is the leader of Subgroup B (Standards and Reference Materials) for the Advanced Virus Detection Technologies Interest Group (AVDTIG)

Postdoctoral Research Opportunities

Megan is currently looking for applicants for the following opportunities:

Accurate Nucleic Acid Measurements for Molecular Diagnostics

Ensuring the Safety of Vaccines and Biologics

If you are interesting in applying to either opportunity, please email Dr. Cleveland at megan.cleveland [at]


RNA reference materials with defined viral RNA loads of SARS-CoV-2 – A useful tool towards a better PCR assay harmonization

Laura Vierbaum, Nathalie Wojtalewicz, Vanessa Lindig, Ulf Dühring, Hans-Peter Grunert, Christian Drosten, Victor Corman, Daniela Niemeyer, Sandra Ciesek, Holger Rabenau, Annemarie Berger, Martin Obermeier, Andreas Nitsche, Janine Michel, Martin Mielke, Jim Huggett, Denise O'Sullivan, Simon Cowen, Megan Cleveland, Peter Vallone, Samreen Falak, Andreas Kummrow, Thomas Keller, Ingo Schellenberg, Heinz Zeichhardt, Martin Kammel
The outbreak and pandemic spread of SARS-CoV-2, the cause of the novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), led to the need for a reliable detection method to track

One in seven pathogenic variants can be challenging to detect by NGS: an analysis of 450,000 patients with implications for clinical sensitivity and genetic test implementation

Stephen Lincoln, Tina Hambuch, Justin Zook, Sara Bristow, Kathryn Hatchell, Rebecca Truty, Michael Kennemer, Brian Shirts, Andrew Fellowes, Shimul Chowdhury, Eric Klee, Shazia Mahamdallie, Megan Cleveland, Peter Vallone, Yan Ding, Sheila Seal, Wasanthi DeSilva, Farol Tomson, Catherine Huang Huang, Russell Garlick, Nazneen Rahman, Marc L. Salit, Stephen Kingsmore, Matthew Ferber, Swaroop Aradhya, Robert Nussbaum
Next-generation sequencing (NGS) is widely used and cost-effective. However, depending on the specific methods used, NGS can have limitations with certain

Report of the 2019 NIST-FDA Workshop on Standards for Next Generation Sequencing Detection of Viral Adventitious Agents in Biologics and Biomanufacturing

Megan Cleveland, Bharathi Anekella, Mike Brewer, Pei-Ju Chin, Heather Couch, Eric Delwart, Jim Huggett, Scott Jackson, Javier Martin, Serge Monpoeho, Tom Morrison, Siemon Ng, David Ussery, Arifa Khan
Adventitious virus testing assures product safety by demonstrating the absence of viruses that may have been unintentionally introduced during the manufacturing
Created September 17, 2019, Updated December 9, 2022