NIH's Role In Sustaining the U.S. Economy 2021 Update Now Available here
UMR Urges House and Senate Leaders to Include NIH Funding in COVID Relief Package read here
UMR releases new fact sheets on COVID-19 and biomedical research. Read here
See how UMR members are aiding in the fight against the coronavirus here
A new episode of the Amazing Things Podcast is now available! Check it out here.

A participant in the NIH 2019-2020 Medical Research Scholars Program.

Photo Credit: National Institutes of Health

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UMR MEMBERS DEPLOY BIOMEDICAL INNOVATION TO FIGHT COVID-19

UMR members, representing leading research institutions, patient and health advocates and private industry, are engaging on all fronts in the effort to keep people safe and detect, treat and prevent COVID-19.

The information here is a small sampling of the efforts underway by UMR members.

Highlights


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Human organ chips enable rapid drug repurposing for COVID-19

A Wyss Institute-led collaboration spanning four research labs and hundreds of miles has used the institute’s organ-on-a-chip (Organ Chip) technology to identify the antimalarial drug amodiaquine as a potent inhibitor of infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The Organ Chip-based drug testing ecosystem established by the collaboration greatly streamlines the process of evaluating the safety and efficacy of existing drugs for new medical applications, and provides a proof-of-concept for the use of Organ Chips to rapidly repurpose existing drugs for new medical applications, including future pandemics. The research is reported in Nature Biomedical Engineering.
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COVID-19 Transmission Risk Calculator

As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, people around the world often ask themselves the same question as they head into various buildings and scenarios: What changes can we make to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission? To help provide some insight into this question, the Harvard Healthy Buildings Program has released this beta version of the ASIMI (Aerosol and Surface Interaction Model for Infectious diseases) Tool for calculating the risk of COVID-19 transmission, which estimates potential infection risk based on several factors and transmission pathways. This tool is based on our peer-reviewed paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
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Stanford Medicine joins COVID-19 vaccine trials for children under 12

Stanford Medicine researchers have started enrolling children younger than 12 in clinical trials to evaluate their response to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Stanford is serving as a site of the Phase 2-3 trial to determine whether the vaccine produces an immune response and prevents COVID-19 in children 5 through 11 years old. It is also a site of the Phase 1 trial to determine the appropriate dose of the vaccine for children 6 months to 5 years old.
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Washington U. gets $1.9 million to boost vaccination rates among Black residents in St. Louis and St. Louis County

After getting their COVID-19 vaccine, Black residents will be given “golden tickets” to hand out to their unvaccinated friends and family that entitles the ticket holder to personal assistance in scheduling a dose for themselves. The concierge ticket service is just one of several initiatives public health experts at Washington University will implement using $1.9 million in federal grants the university received to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates among Black residents of St. Louis and St. Louis County.
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AdvaMed Statement on Biden Administration Plan to Expand K-8 Testing

In response to the Biden administration‘s announcement today of its plan to expand COVID-19 testing in our nation‘s K-8 schools, AdvaMed — the world‘s largest trade association representing medical technology companies — released the following statements from AdvaMed President and CEO Scott Whitaker and Susan Van Meter, executive director of AdvaMedDx, the division within AdvaMed that represents diagnostic testing companies.
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AdvaMed Statement on Administration’s Expanded Investment in COVID Testing

The Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed)—the world’s largest trade association for medical technology and diagnostics companies in the world—released the following statement from President and CEO Scott Whitaker on today’s announcement by the Biden Administration of its plan to expand diagnostic testing.
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AdvaMed Re-Launches Web-Based Platform to Assist Government with Potential Supply Shortfalls

The Advanced Medical Technology Association (AdvaMed) today unveiled a newly repurposed platform to help device manufacturers locate and partner with thousands of component part manufacturers and sellers, should they need them during the COVID pandemic.
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AdvaMed Letter to President Biden on Defense Production Act: Ready to Continue Industry Efforts to Defeat COVID-19

Today AdvaMed President and CEO Scott Whitaker sent a letter to President Biden affirming the industry’s support of the administration’s national COVID-19 strategy and sharing the industry’s perspective on invocation and use of the Defense Production Act (DPA).
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The State of Alzheimer’s 2021: Stress, COVID-19, Disparities and Racism

The just-released annual state-of-the-disease report from the Alzheimer‘s Association, where Maria Carrillo is chief science officer, highlights how the past year\'s crises reflect challenges for those touched by the disease. Based on two national surveys, it\'s the “deepest dive ever done” by the association into racial and ethnic perspectives, Carrillo says. For the first time, Native Americans and Asian Americans were included. (The Alzheimer’s Association surveyed 2,491 U.S. adults and 1,392 Alzheimer\'s and dementia caregivers age 50 and older.)
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COVID-19 Could Increase Dementia, Other Brain Disorders for Decades to Come

Loss of smell, emotional detachment and other cognitive disorders among COVID-19 survivors has in recent weeks become an urgent medical issue. Some patients experience psychotic breaks. Others report strange neurological symptoms—tremors, extreme fatigue, phantom smells, dizziness and bouts of profound confusion, a condition known as “brain fog.” In one early study of more than 200 patients in Wuhan, neurological complications were identified in 36 percent of all cases and in 45 percent of severe cases. Another study in France in the New England Journal of Medicine reported neurological symptoms in 67 percent of patients.
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Patients with dementia are more at risk of COVID-19 infection, Black Americans disproportionally so, study finds

Experts argue more must be done to protect society’s vulnerable populations after a study revealed that individuals with dementia – in particular Black Americans – are at an increased risk of getting COVID-19. Researchers from Case Western University studied electronic health record data from 61.9 million American adults and found the risk for contracting COVID-19 is twice as high for people with dementia than for those without it, according to the report published Tuesday in Alzheimer’s & Dementia: The Journal of the Alzheimer’s Association.
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People With Dementia Are Twice As Likely To Get Covid-19 And Four Times More Likely To Die From It

Patients with dementia are at higher risk for Covid-19 and are more likely to have worse outcomes, according to a new study published today. The study, led by Case Western Reserve University researchers, reviewed electronic health records of 61.9 million adults in the United States and found that the risk for contracting Covid-19 was twice as high for people with dementia compared to the general population... “These preliminary findings suggest a frightening reality of the vulnerabilities associated with dementia‚” said Maria Carrillo, PhD, Alzheimer’s Association chief science officer.
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How SARS-CoV-2 first adapted in humans

In the April 30 issue of Science Magazine, researchers use careful structural analyses to reveal how an early spike protein mutation accelerated the pandemic and how it will shape the next vaccines.
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Artificial Intelligence: A Vital Tool in the Pandemic

As described in a AAAS report released today, “the COVID-19 pandemic provided … a unique opportunity to prove that AI could be harnessed for the benefit of all humanity, and AI developers seized the moment.”
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Relief and worry for immune-suppressed people

Early studies suggest COVID-19 vaccine protection varies by ailment and treatment For Eva Schrezenmeier, a nephrologist at Charité University Hospital in Berlin, the news was sobering: Among 40 patients with transplanted kidneys at her hospital who’d been vaccinated against COVID-19, only one was churning out the antibodies that would likely protect him from the disease. Because transplant patients take powerful drugs to suppress the immune system so it doesn’t attack a donated organ, her team expected diminished responses to a vaccine. But Schrezenmeier, who posted a preprint describing her study last week, hadn’t anticipated just how badly the vaccine might falter in her patients.
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Vaccines that can protect against many coronaviruses could prevent another pandemic

In 2017, three leading vaccine researchers submitted a grant application with an ambitious goal. At the time, no one had proved a vaccine could stop even a single beta coronavirus—the notorious viral group then known to include the lethal agents of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS), as well as several causes of the common cold and many bat viruses. But these researchers wanted to develop a vaccine against them all. Grant reviewers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) deemed the plan “outstanding.” But they gave the proposal a low priority score, dooming its bid for funding. “The significance for developing a pan-coronavirus vaccine may not be high,” they wrote, apparently unconvinced that the viruses pose a global threat. How things have changed.
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Cancer Research Groups Push Emergency Funding to Restart Clinical Trials in Infrastructure Package

A group of more than fifty cancer research-focused organizations are urging Congress to include $10 billion in emergency funding to restart cancer research and clinical trials at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) stalled by the coronavirus pandemic.
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Documentary Film Highlights Early Days of COVID-19 Pandemic and Ongoing Impact on Black, Rural Communities in Alabama

A film by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN) features the stories of those disproportionally affected by the COVID-19 pandemic and stresses the importance of health insurance coverage for lower income individuals in Alabama. The film‘s urgent message continues to be at the forefront of conversations on public policy change that could significantly address the longstanding health and cancer disparities, exacerbated by the pandemic and provide lower income Alabamians access to comprehensive, affordable health insurance coverage.
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Cancer Patients and Survivors Rally Legislators Virtually Due to COVID-19

The unpredictable and dynamic nature of COVID-19 is no match for the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network’s (ACS CAN) volunteers‘ steadfast commitment. Because of the virus and the elevated risk for those with compromised immune systems, cancer patients, survivors, and caregivers from across the state traveled virtually to the state capitol yesterday to meet with Missouri lawmakers.
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States Must Include Patients with Cancer on COVID-19 Vaccine Priority List

In the midst of growing concerns that patients with cancer have limited access to the COVID-19 vaccines, the Association for Clinical Oncology (ASCO) and American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN), advocacy affiliate of the American Cancer Society, today issued a joint letter to every governor in the United States urging them to prioritize patients with cancer in the distribution of COVID-19 vaccines in accordance with U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines.
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Cardiologists warn of long-lasting COVID-19 effects on the heart

COVID-19 is known for affecting the lungs and respiratory system, and now cardiologists are warning of potential COVID-19 complications affecting the heart. According to the American Heart Association, heart disease is expected to rise significantly post-COVID-19. Dr. Ken Mahaffey, a cardiologist and associate dean of clinical research at Stanford University, told KCBS Radio that the commonly known pulmonary problems associated with COVID-19 can also put a strain on the heart.
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What heart and stroke patients should know about COVID-19 vaccines

Experts have a simple answer for heart and stroke patients questioning whether they should get a COVID-19 vaccination. That answer: yes. The Food and Drug Administration-approved vaccines pose no special problems for such patients, said Dr. Mitchell Elkind, a professor of neurology and epidemiology at NewYork-Presbyterian Hospital ⁄ Columbia University Irving Medical Center in New York City, who also is president of the American Heart Association. The AHA issued a statement Friday encouraging people with cardiovascular risk factors, heart disease or a history of heart attack or stroke to get vaccinated “as soon as possible.”
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COVID-19 patients of all ages with obesity face higher risk of complications, death

People with obesity – regardless of age – are more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19 and have higher risks for complications and death, according to new research. The study, presented Tuesday at the American Heart Association‘s virtual Scientific Sessions, sought to shed new light “on the intersection of a global pandemic and the national epidemic of obesity‚” said lead author Nicholas Hendren. The research was published simultaneously in the AHA journal Circulation.
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AHA News: Black, Hispanic People Hospitalized for COVID-19 at Disproportionately High Rates

TUESDAY, Nov. 17, 2020 (American Heart Association News) -- Black and Hispanic people made up nearly 60% of COVID-19 hospitalizations in a new study, a disproportionate number that researchers attribute to societal structures reinforcing health disparities among racial and ethnic groups. The study looked at data from 7,868 people hospitalized for COVID-19 between Jan. 17 and July 22 at 88 U.S. hospitals taking part in the American Heart Association COVID-19 Cardiovascular Disease Registry. Hispanic and Black patients had a disproportionate risk of landing in the hospital: 33% were Hispanic, 25.5% were Black, 6.3% were Asian and 35.2% were white.
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For future medical breakthroughs, we must rebuild research lost to COVID

Perhaps even more than past breakthroughs, the novel COVID-19 mRNA vaccines have inspired immediate and widespread relief and optimism. Biomedical scientists labored for decades to develop the expertise and proof of feasibility that led to the vaccines; this innovative work has saved countless lives and promises an end to a pandemic that has killed millions of people and disrupted normal life around the world for more than a year.
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AAU Urges Lawmakers to Develop Bipartisan Recovery and Competitiveness Measures

AAU sent a letter to President Joe Biden and congressional leaders thanking them for pandemic relief measures and highlighting actions federal policymakers should pursue, in a bipartisan fashion, to bolster the government-university partnership, support our nation‘s recovery, and strengthen our global competitiveness. The letter urges lawmakers to: double the maximum Pell Grant award to $13,000; provide research recovery funding consistent with the bipartisan H.R. 869/S. 289, the “Research Investment to Spark the Economy (RISE) Act;” invest in scientific research infrastructure; and ramp up research and STEM education investments, setting a path for sustained funding growth thereafter.
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We Lead Three Universities. It’s Time for Drastic Action.

Last week, Harvard University President Lawrence S. Bacow, Massachusetts Institute of Technology President L. Rafael Reif, and Stanford University President Marc Tessier-Lavigne wrote an op-ed to outline the importance of “drastic action” to protect the health of our nation, including the efforts of America‘s leading research universities.
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AAU, Associations Support $40B for Higher Education Pandemic Relief, Remind Lawmakers More Is Needed

AAU joined ACE and 56 other higher education associations on letters to House and Senate leaders to express their strong support for H.R. 1319, the “American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.” The group notes that while the $40 billion included in the measure for higher education relief falls short of the $97 billion needed to address student and institutional needs, it “represents the largest federal effort so far to address the crippling impact of the pandemic on colleges and universities.” The groups also applaud lawmakers’ efforts to provide dedicated support to address the disproportionate effect the pandemic has had on Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Tribal Colleges and Universities, Hispanic-Serving institutions, and other Minority-Serving Institutions.
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CDC, NIFA, and Cooperative Extension Partner to Address Health Disparities in Underserved Communities

The Extension Foundation, in cooperation with APLU’s Extension Committee on Organization and Policy (ECOP), with funding from the USDA National Institute of Food and Agriculture (NIFA) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is funding a nearly $10 million grant opportunity to address health disparities among rural and other underserved communities. This effort, called the Extension Collaborative on Immunization Teaching and Engagement (EXCITE) project, is providing two opportunities for land-grant universities to promote vaccine confidence.
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How Public Universities Distributed Emergency Financial Aid During the Pandemic

As part of a March virtual convening on affordability, APLU invited campus leaders and a representative from APLU’s Office of Governmental Affairs to reflect on the 2020 CARES Act, which enabled distribution of federally funded emergency aid, and implications for the future. The panelists reflected on the effectiveness of distributing federally funded Student Emergency Grants Higher Education Emergency Relief Fund (HEERF), established and funded through multiple rounds of federal coronavirus relief legislation. Learn more about the HEERF funds. Watch the full session here.
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APLU Joins as Founding Member of COVID-19 Community Corps

APLU joined as a founding member of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services‘ COVID-19 Community Corps to increase public confidence in the safety and efficacy of vaccines. Through a nationwide network of trusted messengers and consistent, fact-based public health messaging, the campaign helps the public make informed decisions about their health and COVID-19, including steps to protect themselves and their communities. The campaign has produced a host of resources for educating various communities about COVID-19 and their health.
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Report Details COVID-19’s Massive Impact on Student Food Insecurity

The Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU) and the Coalition of Urban Serving Universities (USU) have released a report examining the pandemic‘s significant impact on food insecurity among college students. The report, “Food Insecurity at Urban Universities: Perspectives During the COVID-19 Pandemic,” also outlines steps institutions can take to more effectively address food insecurity.
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BD keeps USA Track & Field athletes safe as they compete for the U.S. Olympic Trials [VIDEO]

As the official COVID-19 testing partner of USATF, tests using the BD Veritor™ Plus System will be conducted at several events throughout the Journey to Gold – Tokyo Outdoor Track & Field Series as athletes aim to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Team Trials – Track & Field.
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Getting students safely back in school: Find out how BD is helping

The MOT Charter School in Delaware is one of twenty schools participating in a state-wide program developed jointly by the Delaware Department of Education (DOE) and Delaware Health and Social Services (DHSS) to leverage testing to safely reopen schools by providing – at state expense – BD Veritor™ analyzers and SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) tests.
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BD Volunteers Administer COVID-19 Vaccinations, and Hope, from Coast to Coast

BD has received more than 1 billion orders for needles and syringes to support global COVID-19 vaccination planning efforts. Behind each injection device is a story – a frontline worker tirelessly providing life-saving care or an at-risk individual who has been waiting to see her grandson for the first time. Knowing the impact that our medical devices and technologies can have in improving the lives of patients is what drives us every day to help fulfill our purpose of advancing the world of health. For three BD associates who volunteered at COVID-19 vaccination sites, our purpose has never been more evident.
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65,000 people. One human hope. [VIDEO]

Discover how BD and its employees are mobilizing to develop novel diagnostics, help ensure critical delivery of patient care and support the discovery of treatments in response to COVID-19.
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“I Am BIO” Podcast: Good Trouble for Good Medicine

The COVID crisis has laid bare the inequities faced by certain populations in our health care system. It has become increasingly clear that the drug development process for a whole host of diseases often leaves these same populations behind through their absence or underrepresentation in clinical trials. This episode evaluates the problem and looks for ways to improve the process so that medicines and vaccines work for everyone who takes them.
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BIO’s Global “SHARE” Program for COVID could provide global protection against pandemic and create American jobs

Dr. Michelle McMurry-Heath, president and CEO of the Biotechnology Innovation Organization (BIO), sent a letter to President Joe Biden yesterday suggesting the establishment of a COVID Global Strategy for Harnessing Access Reaching Everyone (SHARE) Program, to be implemented immediately. The Global SHARE Program would consist of three parts.
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COVID Vaccine Facts

Find answers to your questions about COVID-19 vaccines.
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“I Am BIO” Podcast: Voices of Vaccine Hesitancy

Vaccines are the biggest thing on everyone′s mind right now. Whether there is hesitancy or people scrambling to get their two doses, the question is how to get 80% of adults to get the shots? In this episode, we dissect people’s fears and connect with a community leader who is trying to educate people and also make sure everyone who wants a vaccine can get one. This episode is hosted by Phyllis Arthur and features a conversation with Dr. Reed Tuckson, founder of the Black Coalition Against COVID-19.
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Corning Announces Expansion of Contract with U.S. Departments of Defense, Health & Human Services

Company to receive an additional $57 million in funding to address growing demand for domestic glass tubing and vial manufacturing capacity as part of the U.S. COVID response to accelerate vaccinations.
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Supporting the Covid-19 vaccine rollout with extra-strength glass

Some people are actually able to bottle their success, and Mark Kurz SM ’95 is one of the lucky few. Kurz is at the forefront of the fight against Covid-19 as a manufacturing supply chain leader at Corning, the New York-based pioneer in glass science and manufacturing technology. Corning produces Valor Glass vials, a primary mode of delivery for vaccines as part of the U.S. government′s Operation Warp Speed. In his role as director of Corning′s Pharmaceutical Technologies manufacturing and operations, Kurz oversaw a four-fold acceleration of production capacity for vials. Production is slated to increase 10-fold by the end of this year.  
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How Corning’s Strategic Framework enabled a new paradigm in pharmaceutical vials

As the COVID-19 virus continues to spread, discovering and distributing a vaccine remains a critical path toward global immunity and an end to the pandemic. To achieve this, the world will need billions of doses of a COVID-19 vaccine. Corning, a leading provider of a glass vial that can help pharmaceutical companies deliver vaccines safely and efficiently, is ramping up production to fulfill enormous demand for the millions-of-vials commitment to the U.S. Government’s Operation Warp Speed.
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Corning Receives Award from U.S. Department of Defense and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services for Products Supporting COVID-19 Testing

Corning Incorporated today announced it has received a $15 million award from the U.S. Department of Defense (DoD), in coordination with Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), for the domestic production of robotic pipette tips used in support of diagnostic testing for COVID-19. This investment will allow Corning Life Sciences to add incremental domestic production capacity. Robotic tips help automate liquid handling and are used in drug discovery and screening, cell culture, and PCR testing applications, most notably in support of COVID-19 diagnostic testing.
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Human organ chips enable rapid drug repurposing for COVID-19

A Wyss Institute-led collaboration spanning four research labs and hundreds of miles has used the institute’s organ-on-a-chip (Organ Chip) technology to identify the antimalarial drug amodiaquine as a potent inhibitor of infection with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. The Organ Chip-based drug testing ecosystem established by the collaboration greatly streamlines the process of evaluating the safety and efficacy of existing drugs for new medical applications, and provides a proof-of-concept for the use of Organ Chips to rapidly repurpose existing drugs for new medical applications, including future pandemics. The research is reported in Nature Biomedical Engineering.
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COVID-19 Transmission Risk Calculator

As we continue to navigate the COVID-19 pandemic, people around the world often ask themselves the same question as they head into various buildings and scenarios: What changes can we make to reduce the risk of COVID-19 transmission? To help provide some insight into this question, the Harvard Healthy Buildings Program has released this beta version of the ASIMI (Aerosol and Surface Interaction Model for Infectious diseases) Tool for calculating the risk of COVID-19 transmission, which estimates potential infection risk based on several factors and transmission pathways. This tool is based on our peer-reviewed paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America.
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NIH vaccine designer takes coronavirus research to Harvard

The U.S. government scientist who helped design one of the first COVID-19 vaccines and then tackled skepticism of the shots in communities of color is moving to Harvard in June. Kizzmekia Corbett of the National Institutes of Health will take her research into next-generation vaccines for coronaviruses to the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, the school announced Tuesday. Corbett told The Associated Press the move also allows her to become even more involved in vaccine outreach and equity.
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“The Brain Architects” Podcast: COVID-19 Special Edition: Creating Communities of Opportunity

In this third special COVID-19 episode of The Brain Architects podcast, host Sally Pfitzer is joined by Dr. David Williams, the Florence Sprague Norman and Laura Smart Norman Professor of Public Health, Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. Dr. Williams discusses ways in which the coronavirus pandemic is particularly affecting people of color in the U.S., and what that can mean for early childhood development. He also pinpoints the importance of creating “communities of opportunity” that will allow all families to thrive—both during and after this pandemic.
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“Public Health on Call” Podcast: What Do We Need To Do to End the COVID-19 Pandemic

Vaccinations are seen as the primary tool to prevent COVID-19 infections, but are there other things we should be doing to bring down transmission rates? In this episode, Dr. Caitlin Rivers and Dr. Crystal Watson from the Center for Health Security return to the podcast to talk with Dr. Josh Sharfstein about where we are, what still needs to be done, and when they\'ll know that the pandemic is truly in the rearview mirror.
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The environmental toll of fighting COVID-19

Masks, gloves, and chemical disinfectants will outlast the pandemic. Ana María Rule, an assistant professor in Environmental Health and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University and an expert on aerosols and particulate matter, says there are better alternatives to plastics and harsh chemicals.
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A conversation with CDC Director Rochelle P. Walensky

Walensky, a Johns Hopkins School of Medicine alum, discusses her time at Hopkins and shares her vision for caring for the nation beyond the COVID-19 pandemic.
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For future medical breakthroughs, we must rebuild research lost to COVID

Perhaps even more than past breakthroughs, the novel COVID-19 mRNA vaccines have inspired immediate and widespread relief and optimism. Biomedical scientists labored for decades to develop the expertise and proof of feasibility that led to the vaccines; this innovative work has saved countless lives and promises an end to a pandemic that has killed millions of people and disrupted normal life around the world for more than a year.
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The Impact of COVID-19 on the Nursing Profession in the U.S.

A 2020 Quantitative Survey Summary Commissioned by Johnson & Johnson, the American Nurses Association (ANA) and American Organization for Nursing Leadership (AONL).
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Washington University looking for children for COVID-19 vaccine trial

Washington University in St. Louis has been chosen to start two vaccine trials for children. One trial will be for the Moderna vaccine in children 12 years old and under. The other trial will be with Johnson & Johnson. It will test the vaccine in children from birth to 17 years old. The hospital plans to launch the trials at the end of March or early April. Infectious disease physician, Dr. Jason Newland, says the goal is to recruit a diverse group of participants. The hospital is asking parents interested in enrolling their child to sign up. For more information or to sign up, click here.
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Johnson & Johnson Announces Advance Purchase Agreement with the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust for the Company’s COVID-19 Vaccine Candidate

Janssen Pharmaceutica NV, one of the Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies of Johnson & Johnson, has entered into an agreement with the African Vaccine Acquisition Trust (AVAT) to make available up to 220 million doses of its single-shot COVID-19 vaccine candidate to African Union‘s 55 member states with delivery beginning in the third quarter of 2021. AVAT also has the potential to order an additional 180 million doses, for a combined total of up to 400 million doses through 2022.
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J&J developing several next-generation COVID-19 vaccines, says CEO

Johnson & Johnson is developing several next generation COVID-19 vaccines against the emerging variants of the coronavirus, Chief Executive Officer Alex Gorsky said on Thursday. The drugmaker, which won the U.S. emergency use authorization of a one-shot vaccine last month, had previously said it was developing a second-generation vaccine that would target the variant first identified in South Africa. J&J is also working on a two-dose version of its vaccine.
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MIT study reveals mixed reactions about Covid-19 health disparities

The Covid-19 pandemic, like many other health crises, has had unequal effects on the U.S. population, with communities of color often hit the hardest. A new study co-authored by an MIT professor identifies a related challenge: Different social groups have different reactions to the fact that Covid-19 has generated those health inequities.
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From diabetes to Covid-19, Better World (Health) showcases MIT research in action [VIDEO]

MIT alumni and friends from around the globe attended an online event that featured presentations from Institute leaders, faculty, and alumni about human health-related research.
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MIT Study: Sex differences in Covid-19 mortality vary across racial groups

Black women are more vulnerable than white men, illustrating how race and gender intersect to shape health outcomes. Men have been more susceptible than women to the Covid-19 virus since the start of the pandemic. At a glance, that suggests sex-based biological differences shape the way people respond to the disease. But a newly published study indicates societal factors in the U.S. play an even bigger role.
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You’re no safer from COVID-19 social distancing at 6 or 60 feet, study says

Social distancing inside at 60 feet is no safer than at 6 feet — and “exposure time” indoors is actually far more important, according to a new study from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. In a report that challenges widely accepted COVID-19 prevention guidelines, researchers say there’s “little benefit” to health officials’ “6-foot rule,” especially when wearing masks inside.
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Shortage Of Giant Sterile Liners Threatens Global Vaccines Rollout

In addition to the demand for COVID-19 shots outstripping supply, vaccine manufacturers are struggling to secure supplies of giant plastic bags used in bioreactors that mix pharmaceutical ingredients, thus creating a bottleneck, resulting in more delays of vaccine rollout, the Financial Times reports... MilliporeSigma, a division of Germany’s Merck & Co., said that it had been working on expanding facilities and added that it was also reliant on a web of smaller suppliers who were scaling-up at speed. Thermo Fisher Scientific, which also makes the single-use liners, said it had increased production capacity by 50% in 2020 with further expansion by another 50% this year.
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The Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice received a donation of over 10,000 masks from MilliporeSigma

The Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice received a donation of over 10,000 masks from MilliporeSigma last month. Said Dawn Weidemann, site training coordinator for MilliporeSigma: “As part of MilliporeSigma’s COVID-19 efforts in our community, we were able to donate FDA-certified medical-grade masks. Sharon S. Richardson Community Hospice is a local health care organization that is providing COVID-19 relief efforts and...”
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MilliporeSigma Acquires AmpTec to Expand mRNA Capabilities for Vaccines, Treatments and Diagnostics

MilliporeSigma today announced the acquisition of AmpTec, a leading Hamburg, Germany-based, mRNA contract development and manufacturing organization (CDMO). The deal strengthens MilliporeSigma’s capabilities to develop and manufacture mRNA for its customers for use in vaccines, treatments and diagnostics applicable in Covid-19 and many other diseases.
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The Pandemic Response CoLab

The Pandemic Response CoLab is a joint project by the MIT Center for Collective Intelligence (CCI), MIT Media Lab’s Community Biotechnology Initiative, and founding member MilliporeSigma. The project is an open, online collaboration platform that invites anyone, from individuals to groups, from communities to businesses, to develop actionable solutions for challenges presented by the Covid-19 pandemic.
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Illinois Health Care Worker Receives a “COVID to COVID” Double-Lung Transplant and Returns Home One Year After Contracting COVID-19

Renato Aquino is the first-known COVID-19 patient to receive lungs from a COVID-19 donor at Northwestern Medicine On February 25, Northwestern Medicine surgeons successfully performed the transplant using lungs from a donor who previously had COVID-19 and cleared the virus after having mild to moderate symptoms. The donor‘s death was unrelated to COVID-19 and their lungs didn‘t suffer any permanent damage from the virus, making them viable for transplantation. After receiving the transplant, Aquino is now able to breathe on his own without supplemental oxygen and returned home to Glendale Heights, Ill., where he continues to recover.
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COVID vaccines do not damage placenta in pregnant women, Northwestern study finds

Researchers at Northwestern University said they found evidence that the COVID-19 vaccine is safe for moms and their unborn babies. The study involved 200 patients who delivered their babies at Prentice Women\'s Hospital, and included 116 who were unvaccinated and 84 who were vaccinated with either the Moderna or Pfizer vaccines during their 3rd trimester. Dr. Jeffery Goldstein, co-author of the study, focused on the placenta because it is the first organ to form and a good indicator of problems.
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New app allows NICU families to ‘visit’ baby during COVID-19 pandemic

To help reduce stress for parents with babies in the NICU, Dr. Craig Garfield, a professor of pediatrics and medical social sciences at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and a pediatrician at Ann & Robert H. Lurie Children’s Hospital of Chicago, and collaborator Young Seok Lee developed a smartphone app called SMART NICU2HOME, which allows parents to stay connected with their babies, sending them vital health updates, educational information about child care, de-stressing techniques, and a private social media account to share updates with friends and family.
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Northwestern spinoff receives $21.3M from NIH to manufacture COVID-19 test

A new, highly sensitive, easy-to-use test for COVID-19 that requires a single swab and 15 minutes has received $21.3 million from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADxSM) initiative. Developed at Northwestern University’s Center for Innovation in Global Health Technologies (CIGHT), the point-of-care technology is being commercialized by Northwestern spinoff company Minute Molecular Diagnostics, which will use the NIH grant to ramp up production to one million test cartridges per month.
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Diversifying clinical trials and fighting disease requires equity and trust

The COVID-19 pandemic has left no person unaffected, but Black Americans have been disproportionately impacted. Black adults are nearly four times more likely to be hospitalized from the virus and nearly three times more likely to die from the virus than their white counterparts. At the same time, recent polls highlight COVID-19 vaccine hesitancy within Black communities. In fact, only one in four Black Americans (24%) plan to get the vaccine compared to other racial and ethnic groups, and Black Americans are significantly trailing in vaccination rates.
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A conversation with Ron Busby, Sr., President and CEO of the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. on improving vaccine confidence in communities of color

PhRMA CEO Steve Ubl recently connected with Ron Busby, Sr., President and CEO of the U.S. Black Chambers, Inc. (USBC), which represents 310,000 Black-owned businesses nationwide, about how to improve vaccine confidence in communities of color.
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Patient safety is at the heart of COVID-19 vaccine R&D

As the world continues to feel the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, the biopharmaceutical industry is continuing working around the clock to research, develop and manufacture vaccines to prevent infection. To date, substantial progress has been made in vaccinating Americans with COVID-19 vaccines that have been granted emergency use authorization (EUA) by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA).
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ICYMI: WSJ showcases breakthrough science of COVID-19 vaccines and implications for future medicines

Building on deep scientific knowledge gained from decades of experience with viruses such as MERS, SARS, influenza, HIV and Hepatitis C, biopharmaceutical companies have made unprecedented progress in advancing treatments and vaccines to help fight COVID-19. At this time, three vaccines and several treatments have received emergency use authorizations (EUAs) from the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) with one treatment receiving FDA approval. Additional candidates under investigation have also shown promise.
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Stanford Medicine joins COVID-19 vaccine trials for children under 12

Stanford Medicine researchers have started enrolling children younger than 12 in clinical trials to evaluate their response to the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine. Stanford is serving as a site of the Phase 2-3 trial to determine whether the vaccine produces an immune response and prevents COVID-19 in children 5 through 11 years old. It is also a site of the Phase 1 trial to determine the appropriate dose of the vaccine for children 6 months to 5 years old.
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Stanford doctors and engineers working overtime to help India

Over the past few weeks, we‘ve watched as a coronavirus surge in India has spun out into a full blown health crisis. But quietly, behind the scenes, doctors, engineers and others here in the Bay Area have working non-stop to help. And while many have roots in India, their compassion goes far beyond their backgrounds.
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“Stanford Medcast” Podcast: Hidden and Here Mini-Series

The Hidden and Here mini-series aims to use storytelling to highlight and educate clinicians on the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on caregivers, non-physician essential workers and teachers who we believe have been hidden but very much here. In each episode, we will highlight their stories and a panel comprised of Sheila Lahijani, MD, Ryan Matlow, PhD, Sonoo Thadaney Israni, and Ranak Trivedi, PhD will reflect on the stories heard, discuss salient points and identify action steps that can be put in practice.
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Stanford Health Care’s Dr. Anne Liu on safety of Pfizer COVID-19 shots for US children as young as 12 [VIDEO]

Dr. Anne Liu is an infectious disease doctor at Stanford Health Care’s Infectious Disease Clinic.
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“Science with a Twist” Podcast: Why We Need to Continue Testing

Manoj Gandhi, Sr. Medical Director at Thermo Fisher Scientific, interviews Dr. Stephen Morse, professor of epidemiology at Columbia University. Manoj and Stephen address the doubts expressed by the general public regarding testing for COVID-19 and the need for continued testing even as vaccination rates continue to increase.
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Thermo Fisher Scientific Launches In-Air SARS-CoV-2 Surveillance Solution

Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc., the world leader in serving science, today announced the launch of the Thermo Scientific AerosolSense Sampler, a new surveillance solution designed to deliver fast and highly reliable insight into the presence of in-air pathogens, including SARS-CoV-2. Individual testing will continue to be a cornerstone in the COVID-19 pandemic response because it enables and informs clinical diagnoses, patient triage and treatment decisions. As society returns to pre-pandemic activities, expanded and complementary monitoring of environments will be key in providing useful insights into virus presence. The AerosolSense Sampler is the next step in providing institutions with highly reliable information to help keep their employees and the public safe.
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Thermo Fisher Scientific Launches Customizable TaqMan SARS-CoV-2 Mutation Panel

Thermo Fisher Scientific, the world leader in serving science, today announced the launch of its Applied Biosystems TaqMan SARS-CoV-2 Mutation Panel, a customizable menu of 22 verified real-time PCR assays for identification of SARS-CoV-2 mutations. These assays enable surveillance of variants that are causing COVID-19 infections in specific regions globally and allow laboratories to choose which mutations to track.
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Shortage Of Giant Sterile Liners Threatens Global Vaccines Rollout

In addition to the demand for COVID-19 shots outstripping supply, vaccine manufacturers are struggling to secure supplies of giant plastic bags used in bioreactors that mix pharmaceutical ingredients, thus creating a bottleneck, resulting in more delays of vaccine rollout, the Financial Times reports... MilliporeSigma, a division of Germany’s Merck & Co., said that it had been working on expanding facilities and added that it was also reliant on a web of smaller suppliers who were scaling-up at speed. Thermo Fisher Scientific, which also makes the single-use liners, said it had increased production capacity by 50% in 2020 with further expansion by another 50% this year.
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Rapid COVID-19 Diagnostic Test Delivers Results Within 4 Minutes With 90 Percent Accuracy

A low-cost, rapid diagnostic test for COVID-19 developed by Penn Medicine provides COVID-19 results within four minutes with 90 percent accuracy. A paper published this week in Matter details the fast and inexpensive diagnostic test, called RAPID 1.0.
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Hormone Drugs May Disarm Coronavirus Spike Protein and Stop COVID-19 Disease Progression

A new Penn Medicine study shows how anti-androgen drugs disrupt key receptors required for viral invasion of cells. Hormone drugs that reduce androgen levels may help disarm the coronavirus spike protein used to infect cells and stop the progression of severe COVID-19 disease, suggests a new preclinical study from researchers in the Abramson Cancer Center at the University of Pennsylvania and published online in Cell Press‘s iScience.
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How mRNA Vaccines Could Prevent or Eliminate Infectious Diseases Beyond COVID-19

Scientists created a vaccine to prevent the COVID-19 virus using foundational research and technology developed at Penn. Today, as we race to vaccinate more people in more places, the biology behind these vaccines is poised to change the world again in the form of new vaccines against other infectious diseases.
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“Amplify Nursing” Podcast: Special COVID-19 Episode with Alison Buttenheim

This week on AmplifyNursing we welcome the return of Dr. Alison Buttenheim. A public health researcher and behavioral epidemiologist, Dr. Buttenheim is an associate professor of nursing at UPenn School of Nursing and assistant professor of health policy at the Perelman School of Medicine. Today, we talk to Dr. Buttenheim about the current and evolving state of the coronavirus pandemic in the US and across the globe. She shares her insight into vaccine rollout, her coronavirus education project, Dear Pandemic, and her thoughts on the new normal.
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GQ Magazine editor discusses COVID-19’s impact on addiction and art at Vanderbilt Center for Addiction Research event [VIDEO]

Drawing on personal experiences, Will Welch, the global editorial director of GQ, discussed COVID-19’s impact on addiction, sobriety and art with Danny Winder, director of the Vanderbilt Center for Addiction Research, and Erin Calipari, assistant professor of pharmacology, during an April 21 event.
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Research Snapshot: New Vanderbilt-led research explores human migration changes during the COVID-19 pandemic

The choice of where to live is a major economic and social decision and includes factors such as labor markets, schools, housing costs and access to amenities. In 2020, new research shows, a new factor made a prominent appearance: the COVID-19 pandemic. But the way it showed up might not be what you’d expect.
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Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt selected as trial site for pediatric COVID-19 vaccine

Monroe Carell Jr. Children‘s Hospital at Vanderbilt is set to begin a phase 2/3 clinical trial to study the safety and efficacy of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine in children.
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COVID long-haulers speak about living with brain fog, rancid smells and crushing fatigue

In February, the NIH announced a four-year, $1.15 billion dollar initiative to study what causes long COVID, but even before the initiative was put forth, clinics were springing up around the country to research and treat the growing number of long-haul patients... Dr. Sara Martin is working to get one such initiative off the ground. The Adult Post-Acute COVID clinic at Vanderbilt University, which launched this week, brings together specialists from internal medicine, infectious disease, pulmonology, cardiology, ophthalmology, psychology, physical medicine, ear, nose and throat, speech pathology and neurology. “We\'re trying to cover any potential issues patients might have‚” Martin said. “Every day it seems like there are new conditions or symptoms that are being reported.”
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VUMC to lead national study to treat severe COVID complications

The Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (VICTR) has been awarded a major federal grant to lead a national trial of treatments targeting the Renin Angiotensin Aldosterone System (RAAS) in patients hospitalized with COVID-19.
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VUMC team screens high school for SARS-CoV-2 asymptomatic infections

Under the SARS CoV-2 Return to School Saliva Opt-in Screening Study, which began last November at University School of Nashville, a research team from Vanderbilt University Medical Center is testing a solution for efficient asymptomatic disease surveillance and control.
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VUMC aids national effort to repurpose drugs for COVID-19

Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) has been named Data Coordinating Center (DCC) for a nationwide platform of studies aimed at “repurposing” existing drugs to treat mild to moderate symptoms of COVID-19. The Duke Clinical Research Institute (DCRI) is the Clinical Coordinating Center for the ACTIV-6 platform announced April 19 by the National Institutes of Health (NIH). DCRI has contracted with VUMC for data coordinating services for the studies, which are supported by $155 million in federal funding.
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VUMC team’s COVID-19 research featured on “60 Minutes”

James Crowe, MD, and members of his lab at Vanderbilt University Medical Center who have pioneered rapid development of monoclonal antibody treatments for life-threatening viral diseases including COVID-19, were featured April 11 on a CBS News 60 Minutes segment titled “The Last Pandemic.”
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Washington U. gets $1.9 million to boost vaccination rates among Black residents in St. Louis and St. Louis County

After getting their COVID-19 vaccine, Black residents will be given “golden tickets” to hand out to their unvaccinated friends and family that entitles the ticket holder to personal assistance in scheduling a dose for themselves. The concierge ticket service is just one of several initiatives public health experts at Washington University will implement using $1.9 million in federal grants the university received to increase COVID-19 vaccination rates among Black residents of St. Louis and St. Louis County.
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Among COVID-19 survivors, an increased risk of death, serious illness

As the COVID-19 pandemic has progressed, it has become clear that many survivors — even those who had mild cases — continue to manage a variety of health problems long after the initial infection should have resolved. In what is believed to be the largest comprehensive study of long COVID-19 to date, researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis showed that COVID-19 survivors — including those not sick enough to be hospitalized — have an increased risk of death in the six months following diagnosis with the virus.
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Washington University looking for children for COVID-19 vaccine trial

Washington University in St. Louis has been chosen to start two vaccine trials for children. One trial will be for the Moderna vaccine in children 12 years old and under. The other trial will be with Johnson & Johnson. It will test the vaccine in children from birth to 17 years old. The hospital plans to launch the trials at the end of March or early April. Infectious disease physician, Dr. Jason Newland, says the goal is to recruit a diverse group of participants. The hospital is asking parents interested in enrolling their child to sign up. For more information or to sign up, click here.
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For breastfeeding moms, COVID-19 vaccinations may also protect babies

Nursing mothers who receive a COVID-19 vaccine may pass protective antibodies to their babies through breast milk for at least 80 days following vaccination, suggests new research from Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis. “Our study showed a huge boost in antibodies against the COVID-19 virus in breast milk starting two weeks after the first shot, and this response was sustained for the course of our study, which was almost three months long,” said first author Jeannie Kelly, MD, assistant professor of obstetrics and gynecology. “The antibodies levels were still high at the end of our study, so the protection likely extends even longer.”
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Coronavirus Vaccines and People with Cancer: A Q&A with Dr. Steven Pergam

Many people being treated for cancer are asking whether they should get one of the COVID-19 vaccines. Steven Pergam, M.D., of the Vaccine and Infectious Disease Division at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in Seattle, was a co-leader of a committee formed by the National Comprehensive Cancer Network (NCCN) that recently released recommendations on COVID-19 vaccination in cancer patients. In this Q&A, Dr. Pergam discusses some of the questions people with cancer and cancer survivors have about these vaccines.
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An Unprecedented Impact Part 2: The Threat to the Research Pipeline

Not until the COVID-19 pandemic has something caused such a massive disruption to ongoing research in all fields, delaying and jeopardizing important work, stalling life-saving clinical trials and upending the career paths of many graduate students and early career scientists.
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An Unprecedented Impact Part 1: The Effort to Combat COVID-19

From a laser-like focus by researchers, medical professionals and life sciences and biopharmaceutical companies on understanding, mitigating, treating and eradicating the pandemic, to massive disruptions to ongoing research in all fields that is jeopardizing important work, stalling life-saving clinical trials and upending the career paths of many graduate students and early career scientists, COVID-19 is touching all aspects of biomedical research. Part 1 in this series of fact sheets focuses on the effort to combat COVID-19.

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