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Improving Health and Improving Lives for 50 Years

Our Story

From a lab in a former hospital to global life sciences company

In 50 years, LabCorp has transformed from a local laboratory operating from a former hospital to a leading global life sciences company that is deeply integrated in ​guiding patient care.

When our founders, the Powell brothers, started Biomedical Reference Laboratories (BRL) in 1969 in a former hospital in Burlington, North Carolina, they never could have envisioned the LabCorp we now know.

Today we provide diagnostic, drug development, and technology-enabled solutions for more than 120 million patient encounters per year; typically process tests on more than 2.5 million patient specimens per week; and support clinical trial activity in approximately 100 countries.

Learn more about the company history by viewing the LabCorp timeline. Visit the LabCorp Thought Leadership webpage to learn about LabCorp's leadership in the areas of precision medicine and consumer empowerment.

LabCorp Lab
160 Million

patient encounters per year

Support of clinical trial activity in

~ 100 Countries
3 Million

patient specimens per week

Our People

Hear our employees talk about our long-term success and future

What's the secret to LabCorp's long-term success?

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What makes LabCorp special?

The Archives

A glimpse into our past

LabCorp History - Biomedical Laboratories


Dr. James B. Powell and his brothers, Thomas Edward Powell III and John Powell, formed Biomedical Laboratories (later known as Biomedical Reference Laboratories) in a hospital basement in Burlington, N.C. Hoffman-La Roche acquired Biomedical Laboratories and merged all of its laboratory companies into one company, Roche Biomedical Laboratories (RBL). In 1995, RBL merged with National Health Laboratories to become LabCorp.

Roche Biomedical Laboratories building on York Court in Burlington, N.C. A year after acquiring Burlington, N.C.-based Biomedical Reference Laboratories in 1982, Hoffmann-La Roche merged all of its laboratory companies into one company called Roche Biomedical Laboratories (RBL). RBL and National Health Laboratories merged to become LabCorp.
From our company's founding in 1969 until the end of 1996, Dr. Jim Powell led Biomedical Reference Laboratories, then Roche Biomedical Laboratories, and finally as LabCorp's CEO through a period of sustained growth.
Two employees in the early 1980s using an automated analyzer, a lab instrument used to measure specimen sample characteristics.
Employees at Roche Biomedical Laboratories (RBL) celebrating National Medical Laboratory Week. RBL and National Health Laboratories merged to become LabCorp in 1995.
LabCorp holds a medical technology class with Alamance Community College at its Burlington, N.C., laboratory.
An employee in the early 1990s using an early barcode reader used to accession drug testing specimens.
In August 1990, Roche Biomedical Laboratories (RBL) opened a facility in Research Triangle Park to provide company leadership in the development of molecular diagnostic technologies and applications in the areas of genetics, infectious disease, and oncology. RBL and National Health Laboratories merged in 1995 to become LabCorp.
In 1992, Dr. Jim Powell, the company's first CEO, dedicated a 94,000-square-foot addition to the Roche Biomedical Laboratories' (RBL) facilities in Burlington, N.C., making it one of the largest laboratories in the world. RBL and National Health Laboratories merged in 1995 to become LabCorp.
In 1992, the first addition was built to the LabCorp York Court laboratory in Burlington, N.C., making it one of the largest laboratories in the world at the time with a total of 205,000-square-feet.
In 1997, a LabCorp laboratory was renamed in honor of Dr. Jim Powell. Dr. Powell served as the first CEO from our company's founding 50 years ago until the end of 1996.
Thomas P. Mac Mahon, the company's second CEO, led the company from 1997 until his retirement at the end of 2006. The LabCorp corporate headquarters building in downtown Burlington, N.C., is named after Mac Mahon.
 In 2007, LabCorp invested in automation with the acquisition of Protedyne, which uses robotics to optimize efficiency in LabCorp’s diagnostic testing laboratories across the world.
A ribbon-cutting event is held in 2008 for the new corporate headquarters in downtown Burlington, N.C. The headquarters building is named after former CEO Thomas P. Mac Mahon, pictured to the right with current LabCorp chairman and CEO David P. King.
In 2013, LabCorp added Propel® robotic automation in labs to more efficiently prepare and sort patients' blood specimens.
With the acquisition of Covance in 2015, LabCorp became a leading global life sciences company with the unique combination of world-class diagnostics and end-to-end drug development services.  Covance supports clinical trial activity in approximately 100 countries through its industry-leading central laboratory business, generating more safety and efficacy data to support drug approvals than any other company.
In 2017, Covance, LabCorp's drug development business, extended its capabilities in precision medicine by opening a dedicated, state-of-the-art companion diagnostics laboratory in Morrisville, N.C. Together, LabCorp and Covance have supported more FDA-approved companion diagnostics than any other company.
LabCorp transports patient specimens a total of approximately 2.6 million miles each year, equating to traveling the world 104 times.
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