Universities have always led the charge to address our nation’s most pressing issues – from national security to public health crises. The current COVID-19 pandemic is no different, with university researchers quickly pivoting their work to find treatments, a vaccine, and a way to alleviate the global supply shortage of health care equipment to support our health care workers and systems.
Fundamental research conducted years ago in partnership with federal research agencies like the National Science Foundation, the Department of Energy, and the National Institutes of Health, has provided much of the knowledge researchers are using to alleviate the stress of COVID-19 today.
Sustained, robust, and predictable federal investment in fundamental research is important now more than ever, and the research conducted now may allow us to mitigate – or even prevent – future public health crises.
A team of engineers at Auburn University created a design for RE-INVENT, an accessory which would convert CPAP machines into ventilators. Many patients with COVID-19 who require respiratory assistance have been put on ventilators, leading to a nationwide shortage of this critical piece of equipment. The RE-INVENT device can be assembled in four hours and the cost of parts is only a fraction of the price of a ventilator.
Bob Norton, the chair of the Auburn University Food System Institute’s Food and Water Defense Working Group, says the U.S. food supply is safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. While grocers and food retailers step up their measures to ensure sick employees do not come into contact with consumer goods, Norton encourages the public to maintain a two-week food supply and take commonsense hygiene precautions to protect themselves while shopping.
A Brown professor of dermatology is exploring if the same hormones that cause hair loss in males are linked to the severity and fatality rate of COVID-19 patients. Early research indicates infection by SARS-CoV-2, is mediated by androgen hormones, which also control the density of facial and chest hair. Understanding the genetic link between hormones and coronavirus susceptibility will help scientists design targeted drug therapies and keep at-risk groups from environments with high transmission rates.
Brown University’s Center for Human Rights and Humanitarian Studies is partnering with Project HOPE – an organization that addresses public health needs – to create a COVID-19 training program for health workers to increase medical capacity in high-risk countries. The program will teach trainees on transmission mechanism, infection prevention and control, screening, diagnoses, stabilization and more. The curriculum is being designed with global needs in mind and will be publicly available once finalized so health care workers around the world may benefit from it.
Columbia University launched an app –CovidWatcher – to track the spread of COVID-19 in New York City and provide real-time information about new hot spots, giving public health officials data to inform how they deploy resources. In addition to gathering knowledge about at-risk populations, the app will also give insight to asymptomatic people who are self-isolating. The app differs from similar technology because users are asked to update their status regularly, demonstrating how the pandemic is evolving over time and will allow the city to respond accordingly.
Columbia University led a national analysis of data which identified counties whose patient volume during the pandemic could exceed capacity in critical care units, putting them at the greatest risk for COVID-19-related deaths. The study recommends aggressive social distancing measures and medical preparation to protect health care systems. The researchers estimate there is a two-week gap between when a containment policy goes into effect and evidence of reduced transmission, important information for public health officials as they devise plans for slowing the spread of the virus.
Aldatu Biosciences, a spinout company from Harvard’s Innovation Labs, delivered SARS-CoV-2 testing supplies to Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center to diagnose cases of COVID-19. The company collaborated with hospital staff to rapidly develop and deliver the kits, increasing testing capacity to as many as 1,500 tests per day. Aldatu was founded in 2014 with support from the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, with the goal of developing products that address diagnostic challenges in global health.
Harvard scientists and researchers from across disciplines are conducting studies to find an effective treatment for COVID-19. Along with forming the Massachusetts Consortium on Pathogen Readiness – a consortium to leverage the state’s collective biomedical knowledge in developing methods to diagnose and treat COVID-19 – two of Harvard’s affiliate hospitals are hosting national trials of proposed drug regimens, including one lead by the National Institutes of Health.
An Indiana University professor is leading an international effort to build a SARS-CoV-2 tissue simulator. By modeling the virus’ dynamics, the researchers are aiming to identify and understand “choke points” that would stop it from infecting tissues in the body and protect against other immune responses. In the future, researchers will be able to build on this foundational simulation, which could save critical time in the search for treatments in the event of another pandemic.
A research team at Indiana University is joining the university-wide effort to combat COVID-19 by leveraging their work on rotavirus to develop a vaccine for children against COVID-19. By engineering the rotavirus’s genome to produce the coronavirus protein, children who receive the rotavirus vaccine would likely have a similar immune response to COVID-19. The modified vaccine could help infants and kids who are more prone to severe disease from getting sick. To control COVID-19 in the long term, babies may have to be vaccinated, so adapting a vaccine could save years of research.
Johns Hopkins University
Biologists from Johns Hopkins University’s Applied Physics Laboratory have transitioned their work sequencing influenza to sequence SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19. With a stronger understanding of the virus’s evolution, the researchers can map where cases originated and how long they may have been in the area, benefiting public health officials’ containment strategies. The research will also show how quickly the virus is mutating – critical information as scientists around the globe race to develop a vaccine.
Johns Hopkins University immunologists are testing a treatment used in the 1918 flu pandemic and the SARS epidemic to neutralize SARS-CoV-2 and slow the spread of the virus. The technique uses antibodies from recovered patients’ blood plasma to boost the immunity of those recently infected or those at risk of becoming infected. If shown to be effective, the treatment could be put into use immediately because it relies only on standard blood-banking practices already in place.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Researchers in MIT’s Department of Mechanical Engineering created a new technique to mass produce disposable face shields, an important piece of personal protective equipment (PPE) that keeps health care workers safe as they treat patients with COVID-19. Using die cutting, the machines will be able to produce thousands of flat sheets per hour, which can quickly be folded into shields. The technique is cost-effective and helps to extend the life of other disposable PPE by providing a layer of protection that covers the entire face.
A spinout company from MIT, E25Bio, is developing a paper-based COVID-19 test using lateral flow technology, which could provide diagnostic results in less than 30 minutes. Other tests for COVID-19 use blood to determine the presence of antibodies, which are often undetectable until the body has begun its counterattack on the virus a few days past the onset of symptoms. The MIT test, conversely, tests for viral proteins rather than antibodies, therefore, is able to provide a diagnosis the same day symptoms appear.
New York University
Teams from New York University’s Tandon School of Engineering and School of Global Public Health are working together to capture 3D data on human movement to document surfaces likely to carry COVID-19, particularly around medical facilities and public transportation hubs. By mapping current conditions, the work will help to predict patterns of exposure and transmission and serve as a basis for machine learning models to analyze the spread of viruses in urban areas. The work is supported by a Rapid Response Research (RAPID) Grant from the National Science Foundation.
New York University researchers developed an artificial intelligence tool, which was used to accurately predict when patients with COVID-19 would develop severe respiratory disease. When operationalized, the model may help doctors advise whether patients should go to the hospital or rest at home. And, the tool found that levels of an enzyme in the liver, reported myalgia, and hemoglobin levels were the most accurate at predicting high-risk patients.
Northeastern University analysts are part of a worldwide effort to model social networks in order to understand how individual patterns of behavior helped COVID-19 become a pandemic. Using publicly available data, Northeastern’s Network Science Institute is generating maps which account for households, regular person-to-person interactions, and transportation, allowing researchers visualize how policy decisions would impact the transmission of COVID-19 in communities. This will allow officials to make informed choices to stem the spread.
Northeastern University’s pandemic mitigation models are helping to inform the White House’s COVID-19 Task Force’s policy recommendations. The research shows how social distancing measures and other travel restrictions could shift the virus’ transmission and prevent deaths. Northeastern’s model takes into account the disease’s incubation period, how contagious it is, the method of transmission, mobility, and other factors that affect human behavior.
Northern Illinois University
Faculty from academic departments across Northern Illinois University have quickly pivoted their research projects to provide insight into the COVID-19 pandemic. From electrical engineering to computer science to accounting and psychology, their work is crucial to better understand the virus and how it affects Americans.
For example, professors in biochemistry and engineering have submitted a proposal for a National Science Foundation grant to conduct research into an alert system for early symptoms that could support the deployment of medical resources. Another project within the psychology department is examining how the pandemic has affected Asian Americans.
To increase the available supply of personal protective equipment (PPE) for health care workers, a Pace University lab is 3D printing 60 face shields. The prototype of the shield’s frame increases in the amount of space in front of the wearer’s head, allowing the plastic shield to be attached more easily. The supplies will be sent to a volunteer organization in New York City that will assemble the shields and distribute them to health care facilities in need.
Pace University’s College of Health Professions and Dyson College are donating thousands of pieces of PPE to health care workers on the front lines of COVID-19, including 15,000 pairs of gloves and more than 60 N95 masks. With the global shortage of PPE, this will be critical to protecting health care workers from exposure while supporting the health care system’s ability to care for patients.
Penn State University
Researchers from across Penn State University have mobilized to find solutions to COVID-19 ranging from vaccine development to virus detection to informing the public and more. For example, a chemistry professor created a real-time sensor that can monitor for the virus in an enclosed space, identifying the source of the infection before people in the area can spread it.
More than 100 researchers from over 25 departments at Penn State University have joined forces to conduct interdisciplinary research on COVID-19. In addition to preventing and treating the infection, the projects will create tools to address social and economic impacts of the crisis. Early work on a vaccine is focused on an intranasal drug that would produce antibodies in the respiratory tract. Additional work includes predictive modeling, parental stress management, food supply chain management, and community support initiatives.
Rutgers, The State University of New Jersey
The Food and Drug Administration (FDA) granted Rutgers University’s RUCDR Infinite Biologics emergency use authorization for its saliva test for COVID-19. The authorization is the first of its kind to be granted by the FDA. Unlike a traditional swab test, a saliva test would protect health care workers who are at a lower risk of infection and preserve supplies of personal protective equipment. It could also be scaled much faster than swab tests, greatly increasing the country’s testing capacity.
The new Center for COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness at Rutgers University is an innovative new hub to coordinate the institution’s research and public health efforts around the virus. The center will bring together experts across disciplines, from epidemiology to economics, and coordinate with outside partners to secure additional dedicated research funds.
Stony Brook University
Researchers at Stony Brook University are working with the Department of Energy’s Brookhaven National Laboratory and Argonne National Laboratory to develop a computer model to fast-track the discovery of drugs to treat COVID-19. This research seeks to understand the interaction between proteins and receptions within the cells of the virus at an extremely detailed level. With additional funding support from the National Institutes of Health, the work could lead to treatment for COVID-19 which blocks the infection, saving thousands of lives.
Stony Brook University’s iCREATE is using its 3D printers to make protective face shields for health care workers. Using everyday materials from home improvement stores, the researchers are developing a prototype mask that can be produced in four hours. Using the full fleet of Stony Brook technology, that’s up to 40 masks a day. Once the team has the necessary materials, they could supply more than 5,000 masks for medical personnel – critical given the global shortage of PPE.
University of California System
The University of California’s five medical centers are launching their own in-house COVID-19 testing to accelerate efforts to identify those affected by the virus. The move could provide hundreds of tests a day for patients and reduce pressure on government labs as they work to contain the virus. With more information about who has been infected, public health officials can make informed decisions to mitigate the virus’ spread and protect vulnerable populations.
University of California Health has launched a clinical trial at five of its medical centers to investigate remdesivir as a potential treatment for patients with COVID-19. Participating patients at UCLA Health, UC San Diego Health, UC San Francisco, UC Irvine Health, and UC Davis Health will receive remdesivir or a placebo to test the safety and efficacy of the drug. The trial is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.
UC Berkeley is hosting “Berkeley Conversations: COVID-19,” an online video series that brings together researchers and faculty from across disciplines to discuss their learnings about virus-related topics. Previous topics have included data science and how it’s utilized to track the pandemic, and a social distancing explainer from epidemiologists at the Berkeley School of Public Health.
Researchers at UC Berkeley’s Innovative Genomics Institute are creating a pop-up diagnostic lab that could provide the results of COVID-19 testing in less than 24 hours. The lab will increase testing capacity in the Bay Area and provide critical public health data regarding the spread of the virus and asymptomatic carriers. The lab’s high-throughput machines could eventually process up to 3,000 tests per day and provide results in less than four hours – critical as the United States grapples with a testing shortage.
In collaboration with the School of Medicine, UC Davis engineers in the Translating Engineering Advances to Medicine (TEAM) lab are working to adapt or develop a 3D printed mask that could serve as an alternative to N95 masks for frontline health care workers. The engineers are also investigating ways to 3D print ventilator replacement parts – starting with those most likely to fail first – to help address the growing shortage of critical medical equipment.
Scientists across UC Davis are collaborating on new research that seeks to understand the pathology of the novel coronavirus and develop a treatment for COVID-19. Using samples from the first community-acquired case of COVID-19 in the United States, the team will cultivate the virus in the lab to investigate treatment strategies. Additionally, the UC Davis Clinical Laboratory will perform up to 1,400 COVID-19 tests per day, the results of which will be validated by the California National Primate Research Center and Center for Immunology and Infectious Diseases.
UC Irvine is working to provide ventilators to California hospitals. A team from UCI School of Medicine has designed and created a “bridge” ventilator – a device that automates the pumping function of masks that manually ventilate patients. The “bridge” ventilators are made from commonly available parts, making them quick to produce should shortages become more severe.
UC Irvine is joining other University of California institutions in a national trial of remdesivir as a treatment course for COVID-19. Remdesivir is an anti-viral drug that was previously used to treat patients with Ebola and has been a successful therapeutic for individuals during the pandemic. Certain patients hospitalized with COVID-19 at UCI Medical Center may be eligible to participate in the study, which is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease.
UCLA’s clinical laboratories have ramped up COVID-19 testing and developed a protocol to swiftly identify patients infected with the virus and stem its spread. Using the medical center’s viral diagnostic equipment, a UCLA researcher has been able to accurately diagnose an increasing number of patients, who can then take preventative measures to reduce infecting others.
A study from UCLA found that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can remain on surfaces and in the air for hours or days after contamination, suggesting that people may contract the virus even if they do not come into direct contact with an infected individual. To contain COVID-19, the study reinforced public health guidance on proper hygiene and appropriate social distancing. The study was conducted in coordination with the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
The Nicotine and Cannabis Policy Center at UC Merced released a report that found smokers and former smokers are more susceptible to COVID-19 and at greater risk of requiring respiratory assistance. Smoking and exposure to nicotine weaken the immune system, but they also have a negative effect on enzymes in the respiratory system. The UC Merced study calls for smokers, former smokers, and those regularly exposed to secondhand smoke to be categorized as an at-risk population as public health officials design strategies to mitigate the pandemic.
An interdisciplinary team of researchers at UC Merced is using genomics and systems biology to find innovate treatments for parasites and other viral infections. This new approach would use chemical compounds to inhibit enzymes from causing an infection and, using the cellular language of parasites, be adapted to any disease-causing organism whose genome has been sequenced. This research was funded in part by the National Institutes of Health.
Environmental engineers at UC Riverside are investigating if, and for how long, SARS-CoV-2 can remain infectious in sewage and drinking water. After another study indicated the virus could remain airborne for hours, the UC Riverside team suggests a re-evaluation of current water treatment methods to ensure the virus is effectively removed. While SARS-CoV-2 has not been known to spread via water, it is closely related to the coronavirus, which caused the SARS outbreak in 2003 when a sewage leak caused a cluster of infections.
Scientists at UC Riverside’s Center of Structural Genomics of Infectious Diseases mapped the atomic structures of two SARS-CoV-2 proteins, which modify the virus’ genetic material to help it hide from the immune system. The research suggests that a drug targeted at these proteins could expedite the process of eradication and recovery, and the work will be released to the public so other researchers may use it in drug development. To beat COVID-19 in the future, it will be critical to have a variety of drugs that can treat the virus should it become resistant to any one of them.
UC San Diego
Engineers and physicians at UC San Diego have collaborated to produce simple ventilators using a combination of premade parts and 3D printers. Some COVID-19 patients will require the use of a ventilator to help them breathe, so the team at UC Davis wanted to devise a design that could increase the number of available ventilators during the crisis. Their prototype converts manual ventilators into automatic ones, freeing up doctors’ and nurses’ time to care for other patients. The design can be made much faster than traditional manufacturing methods.
In conjunction with the National Institutes of Health and four other UC Health medical centers, UC San Diego Health is conducting a clinical trial into remdesivir, an antiviral drug, as a treatment for COVID-19. The study is adaptive, so if remdesivir demonstrates promise, other investigational drugs may be added to the treatment. By comparing remdesivir to other therapies, the researchers will have a stronger understanding of the most effective treatment courses for COVID-19.
UC San Francisco
Scientists at UC San Francisco (UCSF) examined data from the Centers of Disease Control (CDC), reminding the public to follow social distancing guidance to protect themselves and others. While elderly populations are at greater risk for complications from COVID-19, people of any age can be infected by the virus or require hospitalization. And, asymptomatic young people may be driving the spread of the virus more than any other population by ignoring social distancing measures. As researchers learn more about how the novel coronavirus impacts the body, the team at UCSF urges people to act as if they are already infected in order to slow the spread.
A rapid response research team at UCSF is working to understand how SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19, hijacks proteins in the body’s cells to reproduce its own genetic material. By investigating how human proteins interact with this viral one, researchers could eventually block these interactions. Researchers have identified 70 existing drugs that can be used to stop this viral replication – potentially keeping thousands of patients from getting sick.
UC Santa Barbara
UC Santa Barbara second-year computer science major Eran Naveh has put together a website that tracks cases of COVID-19 in the U.S., allowing users to compare how the disease is impacting different states.
UC Santa Barbara’s Solid State Lighting & Energy Electronics Center (SSLEEC) is developing ultraviolet LEDs that have the ability to decontaminate surfaces — and potentially air and water — that have come in contact with the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
UC Santa Cruz
UC Santa Cruz launched a wide range of projects to address the COVID-19 outbreak. Professors in the chemistry and biology departments are setting up a diagnostic testing lab to address testing capacity shortages in the community, while faculty in several departments are working on faster and more accurate diagnostics. And, UC Santa Cruz’s Genomic Institute is studying the novel coronavirus’s genome to unlock answers about how the virus spreads.
UC Santa Cruz alumna Laurie Garrett is a leading expert on global health who has been using her extensive knowledge of pandemics to stop the spread of misinformation and promote solution-based thinking. In a recent interview, she called for accountability at the community-level – local governments working in coordination to protect those most vulnerable to COVID-19. While Garrett was skeptical about the future of the pandemic, she urged communities to come together to prepare.
University of Kansas
A chemical called Capsitol, developed by University of Kansas’s pharmaceutical chemistry department in the 1990s, is playing a critical role today in treating patients with COVID-19. The Food and Drug Administration approved a drug, remdesivir, for patients with COVID-19, but it must be dissolvable in order to be delivered intravenously to patients. That’s where Capsitol comes in – it makes remdesivir soluble, shortening recovery times and saving lives.
The Ohio State University
The Food and Drug Administration approved testing kits created at The Ohio State University that will address shortages in test kit materials for COVID-19. Viral transport media (VTM) is a crucial component in testing to stabilize the virus, and in only 24-hours, researchers at Ohio State created their own “recipe” to reproduce it. It will go into the testing kits that Ohio State is helping to rapidly produce and distribute to hospitals throughout the state.
Scientists at The Ohio State University’s Wexner Medical Center are testing an experimental therapy to reduce inflammation in patients with COVID-19. By filtering out proteins in the blood called cytokines, which cause the lungs to fill with fluid and hamper breathing, doctors are able to prevent the disease from worsening and provide supportive care. The treatment can be repeated as many times as necessary and has shown promising results in getting patients off ventilators and improving blood oxygen levels.
University of Colorado Boulder
The Natural Hazards Center at the University of Colorado Boulder launched the COVID-19 Global Research Registry for Public Health and Social Sciences, an online resource to catalogue ongoing projects and promote interdisciplinary collaboration in the social sciences. The project stemmed from CONVERGE, a similar catalogue of natural disasters that was funded by the National Science Foundation. Scientists from around the globe are encouraged to use the registry, which is available in a number of languages, as they conduct work to understand the impacts of social disruption caused by COVID-19.
Researchers at the University of Colorado Boulder developed SickStick, an at-home test for COVID-19 that could deliver results before patients begin experiencing symptoms of the infection. With support from the Department of Defense, the CU Boulder team is working to identify biomarkers that would display a line to indicate the user has coronavirus, similar to a pregnancy test. The science is based on the lab’s knowledge of nucleic acids, which can be detected earlier than antibodies.
University of Maryland
University of Maryland researchers have created an interactive analytics platform that maps anonymous data from mobile devices to visualize how closely individuals are adhering to stay-at-home orders and social distancing guidance. The analysis found those who are most compliant with government advisories were already taking precautions and reducing non-essential travel. The information could help public health officials devise ways to educate the public about COVID-19, increase enforcement measures, and support vulnerable populations who may have difficultly social distancing.
A study from the University of Maryland found wearing a mask in public could help to slow the spread of COVID-19. Current findings suggest the novel coronavirus can be diffused through the air, but a mask would absorb many of the aerosolized droplets. Because many of those infected with COVID-19 do not experience symptoms, wearing a mask reduces the likelihood the virus will be transmitted to others, according to their research.
University of Michigan
A University of Michigan study forecasted that aggressive social distancing measures could reduce the number of hospitalizations for patients with COVID-19 by up to 65 percent at its peak. Flattening the curve of the pandemic is critical to protect hospitals’ capacity to care for patients adequately, and the research shows social distancing could keep as many as 3,000 patients out of the hospitals.
A University of Michigan engineering professor is investigating if COVID-19 can be detected in community wastewater before the virus is confirmed in the area. Individuals expel viral genetic material through waste, so examining wastewater contents could paint a clearer picture about the breadth of the virus’ spread as testing remains an obstacle. The research is supported by a Rapid Response Research (RAPID) grant from the National Science Foundation.
University of Nebraska
Preliminary data from a University of Nebraska Medical Center study on remdesivir to treat patients with COVID-19 has shown encouraging results. Patients who received remdesivir recovered from COVID-19 faster than patients who only received a placebo and had lower overall mortality rates. Physicians will present their full findings in an upcoming report. The study is sponsored by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
The University of Nebraska Medical Center is working on an experimental procedure to decontaminate single-use masks using UV light so health care workers may reuse them. PPE is in short supply for health workers, which could leave them at greater risk of contracting COVID-19. Without reusing masks, the university estimated supplies would run out in weeks, and the use of UV light to safely decontaminate used masks could be beneficial for many hospitals.
University of Notre Dame
An econometrics expert from the University of Notre Dame has created a model that shows how social distancing can change the rate of viral transmission. The model visualizes how cautionary behavior like social distancing can help contain COVID-19. While there are numerous probabilities involved in a model of viral transmission, this one uniquely demonstrates how individual decisions can impact the spread of the virus on a larger scale.
Researchers at the University of Notre Dame are developing ultra-sensitive COVID-19 tests to quickly and accurately contain the virus and prevent its spread. A recent report estimated that up to 70 percent of current COVID-19 swab tests generated a false negative, likely leading those individuals to unknowingly transmit to the virus to others. Widespread accurate testing is key to managing the pandemic, and this technology could be manufactured in six months and be used as a control measure for future infectious epidemics.
University of Oregon
The Biology and the Built Environment Center at the University of Oregon conducts research into the microbiomes inside buildings and is now applying its knowledge to understand indoor mitigation of pathogens, including COVID-19. The center’s findings support current social distancing recommendations and disinfectant measures and provide more detailed safety guidance for building operators. The findings will inform intra-building containment efforts, including whether to implement social distancing and limit occupant density, and the length of time these precautions should be in effect.
A study from Ellen Peters, director of the Center for Science Communication Research, found individuals who consume an excess of information about COVID-19 and the novel coronavirus were more anxious than those who did not. Those individuals were more likely to believe they would become infected, participate in stockpiling activities, and purchase medical supplies. The research, which the National Science Foundation has recommended funding, may provide guidance to policymakers on the best way to communicate in a global health crisis that will lead people to take necessary precautions without inflating the risks.
University of Pennsylvania
The Perelman School of Medicine at the University of Pennsylvania is conducting three trials of hydroxychloroquine to evaluate its effectiveness at treating and preventing COVID-19. While the drug has been shown to be a successful antiviral treatment in lab settings, there is not yet sufficient evidence that it has the same effect in humans. The results from the studies, which will involve both patients and health care workers, will provide critical insight to combat the pandemic while tempering public conversation about hydroxychloroquine’s promise.
Physicians at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania are using innovative technology to ensure pregnant women have regular access to their doctors while avoiding exposure to COVID-19. Doctors are distributing blood-pressure monitoring cuffs to expecting women to cut down on in-person visits to the hospital and using chatbox robots to answer women’s postpartum questions from the comfort of their home rather than extending hospitals stays after birth. While the science isn’t definitive on transmission of COVID-19 from mother to child, expanding the options for pre- and post-natal care will help to mitigate risk as much as possible.
University of Rochester
The University of Rochester Medical Center is launching a new study that looks at how the immune system responds to COVID-19, including whether some people have pre-existing immunity to the virus and if re-infection is possible. By tracking the production of antibodies over 90 days in individuals with COVID-19, the researchers will have a stronger understanding how long potential vaccines could protect people. The research is supported by the National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
Scientists in the University of Rochester’s biomedical engineering department are working to develop three options for COVID-19 rapid testing mechanisms. While a finger stick test makes use of similar products for diabetes, the researchers are also developing tiny sensor chips to detect the virus at the nanoscale and use ultra-thin membranes to test patients’ fluids to diagnose them. Increasing testing capacity is critical in containing the virus, and their work may also lead to new treatments and vaccines.
University of South Florida
The University of South Florida (USF) is working to mass produce face shields to protect local health care workers against COVID-19. The College of Engineering, in partnership with USF Health, developed an assembly line to make and donate up to 10,000 face shields, helping to alleviate a national shortage of personal protective equipment.
The USF Health is collaborating with Northwell Health, the largest health care provider in New York, and Formlabs, a 3D printing company, to develop 3D printed nasal swabs to test for COVID-19. Clinical testing showed the swabs were as effective as the standard swabs currently in use, which could address shortages in testing supplies across the country. In just one week, the trio created a swab design, produced a prototype, and conducted clinical validation to verify the swab’s safety. Using 3D printing to produce the swab shortens the supply chain, saving precious time to provide health care facilities with the resources they need to combat COVID-19.
University of Washington
The University of Washington Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) is at the forefront of COVID-19 modeling. IHME data is used to help inform policymakers and the general public on when specific areas will reach their peak in resource usage, daily deaths, and total deaths related to COVID-19. The projections are updated frequently based on data reported through public health systems.
University of Washington researchers are testing a smartphone appwhich could potentially help predict and track outbreaks of infectious diseases. The study is funded by the Department of Defense and would enable civilians and members of the military to track their symptoms and avoid coming to work or school while they are contagious. The study has recently begun and is recruiting participants.
Wayne State University
Wayne State University and Wayne State University Physician Group provided the Detroit Medical Center with four new devices that can process COVID-19 test samples on-site. With results in less than an hour, the devices will dramatically cut down time to identify patients affected by the virus and stem its spread earlier than previously possible. The units can process up to 500 results per day – expanding critical testing capacity in one of the nation’s COVID-19 hotspots.
To limit exposure to COVID-19 in homeless populations, where it is particularly difficult to contain, Wayne State University and Wayne State University Physician Group partnered with the City of Detroit to use shelters and recreation centers as sites to test symptomatic individuals for COVID-19. The partnership will also support the opening of new housing facilities that can accommodate almost three-quarters of the city’s homeless, allowing for better social distancing measures.
West Virginia University
West Virginia University’s (WVU) Rockefeller Neuroscience Institute and WVU Medicine have partnered with Oura Health, a smart ring maker, to conduct a study predicting the outbreak of COVID-19 among health care professionals. Using a COVID-19 monitoring app and models informed by artificial intelligence, participants will wear a ring to track symptoms of the virus and other biometrics, including stress and anxiety. When analyzed, the data could predict the onset of viral infections, helping identify infected frontline health care workers.
West Virginia University scientists have developed two alternative face coverings that are as effective as the N95 masks at blocking the novel coronavirus. The team at WVU layered a home furnace filter with 3D printed designs to create the protective masks. They also created an adapter that can be modified to fit any face mask, which blocks droplets carrying the virus from getting through. N95 masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) have been in short supply during the COVID-19 pandemic, where in some places, health care professionals have been limited to a certain amount of PPE a day – increasing their risk of exposure.