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

Photo Credit: National Institutes of Health

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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.


U.S. government reserves supply of COVID-19 antibody cocktail discovered at VUMC

The U.S. government has reserved up to 700,000 doses of a monoclonal antibody cocktail against the COVID-19 virus discovered at Vanderbilt University Medical Center and developed by AstraZeneca, officials have announced.


Investigational vaccine to be tested against COVID-19 variant

Vanderbilt University Medical Center is participating in a national phase 1 clinical trial in healthy adults of an investigational vaccine against the B.1.351 variant of the COVID-19 virus that was first identified in South Africa.


Peterson Foundation grant to fuel COVID-19 research at Northwestern

Northwestern University has announced the Peter G. Peterson Foundation Pandemic Response Policy Research Program, a new research initiative to advance the understanding of effective pandemic policy responses. This two-year project will help inform and improve future pandemic response policies, focusing on health care and the economy, and is funded by a $1 million grant from the Peterson Foundation, a nonpartisan organization promoting fiscal sustainability and economic strength and increasing public awareness of key fiscal challenges.


Examining Rare Neurological Complications of COVID-19 in Children

The largest study to date of neurological manifestations of COVID-19 in children demonstrated patterns in the rare complications seen among pediatric patients.


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.


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.


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.


COVID-19 transmission rare in schools with masking, distancing, contact tracing

Wearing masks, social distancing and frequent hand-washing have kept in-school COVID-19 transmission low, according to results of a pilot study in Missouri aimed at identifying ways to keep elementary and secondary schools open and safe during the pandemic. The study is part of a larger, ongoing collaboration involving Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Missouri Department of Health and Senior Services, the Missouri Department of Elementary and Secondary Education and other entities.


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.


An ‘electronic nose’ to sniff out COVID-19

Through a newly funded grant, researchers across the University are developing a device that can rapidly detect COVID-19 based on the disease’s unique odor profile.


Penn Physicist, Physician Team Awarded $2 Million NIH Grant to Develop Portable COVID-19 Detector for Use in Public Spaces

A team led by physicists at the University of Pennsylvania and physicians at the University’s Perelman School of Medicine has been awarded a two-year, $2 million grant by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences for the development of a handheld device that can detect the signature “odor” of people with COVID-19, the illness caused by the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.


COVID-19 impact on pregnant women focus of NIH grant

Researchers at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis have received a $791,317 grant from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to study factors that keep pregnant women from getting tested for COVID-19, to evaluate whether it is important to test women regularly during their pregnancies, and to determine whether pregnant women with COVID-19 need more specialized prenatal care.


Thermo Fisher Scientific Extends SARS-CoV-2 GlobalAccess Sequencing Program to Support Research on New Virus Strains

Thermo Fisher Scientific has announced an extension of its SARS-CoV-2 GlobalAccess Sequencing Program to provide additional units of the Ion Torrent Genexus System and Ion GeneStudio S5 Series sequencers at a subsidized price to further support global COVID-19 research and surveillance.


AdvaMed Statement on Participation in HHS Vaccine Consultation Panel

January 15, 2021 – AdvaMed President and CEO Scott Whitaker released the following statement about AdvaMed’s participation on the HHS Vaccine Consultation Panel: “AdvaMed has been working with every level of government – as well as with partners in the association space, our members and industry colleagues, and key hospitals and health care systems – to support the COVID-19 vaccine mobilization effort.”


Studies will evaluate COVID-19 vaccine effectiveness among health-care personnel

Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis has received a grant from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to evaluate the effectiveness of vaccines against the SARS-CoV-2 virus among health-care personnel on the WashU Medical Campus and across BJC HealthCare. The study, which includes 16 sites across the country, will allow for the rapid evaluation of these vaccines in a real-world setting with high exposure to the virus.


Scientists In Nearly 40 Nations Join Study On Covid Brain Abnormalities

The study, which will follow survivors over age 50 or in some places over age 60, will be funded initially by the Alzheimer’s Association.


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.


Johns Hopkins launches center for COVID-19 immunity research

Researchers at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health and Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine have been jointly awarded a major grant from the National Cancer Institute, part of the National Institutes of Health, to set up a center for research on the human serological immune response to SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus that causes COVID-19.


VUMC awarded $34 million to lead nationwide convalescent plasma study

Vanderbilt University Medical Center has been awarded a one-year, $34-million grant by the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences, part of the National Institutes of Health, to conduct a nationwide study of “convalescent plasma” as a treatment for COVID-19.


Penn Medicine helps power international COVID-19 data consortium

An international consortium involving Penn researchers pools electronic health record data from around the world to discover clinical insights about COVID-19.


Johns Hopkins seeks Baltimore-area participants for studies on using coronavirus antibodies to prevent, treat infection

The Johns Hopkins University is seeking Baltimore- and Annapolis-area residents who have recently been diagnosed with or exposed to the coronavirus for clinical trials studying the effectiveness of blood plasma with virus antibodies in preventing and treating infections of COVID-19. The Department of Defense is funding the studies.


Hopkins Receives $35M in Federal Funding for COVID-19 Blood Plasma Trials

Johns Hopkins researchers have received $35 million in funding from the U.S. Department of Defense for two nationwide clinical trials to test the effectiveness of a convalescent blood plasma outpatient treatment that may help COVID-19 patients’ immune systems fight the virus.


BD to manufacture injection devices for Covid-19 vaccination in US

Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD) has formed a strategic partnership with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) to establish new manufacturing lines for injection devices, providing the US Government with priority access to huge volumes of syringes and needles to support its ongoing and future pandemic vaccination efforts.


Corning Secures Potential $204M BARDA Grant to Manufacture COVID-19 Vaccine Vials

Corning states it will use the funds to drive production of the Valor Glass technology at company facilities located in New York, North Carolina and New Jersey to support the Trump administration’s Operation Warp Speed.


MilliporeSigma and Baylor College of Medicine Collaborate to Advance a Vaccine Manufacturing Platform to Fight COVID-19

Using key learnings from their ongoing collaboration on a schistosomiasis vaccine, MilliporeSigma, along with researchers at Baylor College of Medicine and the Texas Children’s Hospital Center for Vaccine Development, is optimizing the production process to advance two Covid-19 vaccine candidates.


HEROS Study to Determine Incidence of Novel Coronavirus Infection in U.S. Children Begins

The study, called Human Epidemiology and Response to SARS-CoV-2 (HEROS), is funded by the National Institutes of Health and lead by Tina V. Hartert, M.D., M.P.H., director of the Center for Asthma and Environmental Sciences Research, vice president for translational research, the Lulu H. Owen Chair in Medicine and a professor of medicine at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine in Nashville.


Thermo Fisher Scientific Response to COVID-19 Expands to Include New Serology Test in Collaboration with WuXi Diagnostics and Mayo Clinic

“Rapidly expanding access to high-quality testing requires bold collaborations across the laboratory industry. This marks a significant milestone in our national testing response to COVID-19 and was made possible by bringing together the commercialization capabilities of Thermo Fisher Scientific, testing development abilities of WuXi Diagnostics, and clinical and laboratory expertise of Mayo Clinic physicians and scientists,” said Gianrico Farrugia, M.D., chief executive officer and president of Mayo Clinic.


AdvaMed announces VentConnect online platform to scale the production and distribution of ventilators

The new platform was developed pro bono with the Aerospace Industries Association (AIA), Google, and other industry alliances and partners. AIA represents more than 300 high-tech manufacturers and suppliers of all sizes across a range of sectors. AdvaMed is the world’s largest medical technology association, representing more than 400 companies, including ventilator manufacturers. In addition to AIA members, more than 50 companies – such as Stanley Black & Decker, and Arrow Electronics – from a range of industries are contributing as suppliers to VentConnect.


MilliporeSigma Supports Jenner Institute to Reach First Milestone in COVID-19 Vaccine Manufacturing

MilliporeSigma and The Jenner Institute today announced that the Institute has laid the foundation for large-scale production of its COVID-19 vaccine candidate, ChAdOx1 nCoV-19.

Developing the manufacturing process itself would normally take at least six months to a year, but in just two months’ time, MilliporeSigma supported the Jenner team and their collaborators to evaluate the existing manufacturing platform for use with the new vaccine candidate, and improved critical process steps.


ERx connects healthcare providers with COVID-19 medical supplies

To move vital medical resources during the COVID-19 pandemic where they are needed most, Northwestern University is collaborating with Chicago startup Rheaply to create Emergency Resource Exchange (ERx), a central hub that quickly connects Illinois healthcare providers with supplies.


VUMC joins global effort to explore COVID-19 genetics

Vanderbilt University Medical Center investigators have joined an international genetics effort to make advances as quickly as possible on understanding and treating COVID-19. The COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative is bringing together the human genetics community to share resources for genetics research, such as consent forms, sample collection procedures and algorithms for utilizing data as it comes into electronic health records. The initiative’s goal is to learn the genetic determinants of COVID-19 susceptibility, severity and outcomes.


Maker Task Force works to protect front-line health-care workers

In the face of the COVID-19 pandemic, a diverse team of makers from across Washington University in St. Louis’ Danforth and Medical campuses, Barnes-Jewish Hospital and BJC HealthCare have come together to protect front-line health-care workers and employees on the ground.


Students Assist Local Public Health Departments With COVID-19 Response

Boston University School of Public Health students, along with SPH faculty, staff, and alumni, are part of the newly formed Academic Public Health Volunteer Corps (APHVC) – a COVID-19-focused initiative of the Academic Health Department Consortium.

The group works in partnership with Massachusetts Department of Public Health (DPH), Massachusetts Health Officers Association, and the Office of Health and Human Services’ COVID-19 Command Center.


NIH to launch public-private partnership to speed COVID-19 vaccine and treatment options

The National Institutes of Health and the Foundation for the NIH (FNIH) are bringing together more than a dozen leading biopharmaceutical companies, the Health and Human Services Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration and the European Medicines Agency to develop an international strategy for a coordinated research response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

“COVID-19 is the most significant global health challenge of our lifetime, and it will take all of us working together as a global community to put an end to this pandemic,” said Paul Stoffels, M.D., Vice Chairman of the Executive Committee and Chief Scientific Officer, Johnson & Johnson.


CRISPR pioneer Doudna opens lab to run COVID-19 tests

The new lab is housed at the University of California, Berkeley’s Innovative Genomics Institute, where Doudna is the executive director.

It is being run by more than 50 volunteers from Berkeley and its environs, including the chief scientific officer of lab equipment giant Thermo Fisher, team members from Salesforce, the head of commercial at laboratory information analysis firm Third Wave Analytics, and workers from Hamilton Corp., a maker of laboratory robots, two of which are used in the laboratory.


Vanderbilt researchers developing potential coronavirus antibody therapies

Vanderbilt University Medical Center is teaming up with academic, governmental and corporate partners in an unprecedented, fast-tracked global effort to develop antibody-based treatments to protect people exposed to COVID-19.

“Our goal is to prepare antibodies for human clinical trials by this summer,” said James Crowe, MD, director of the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center.

“We have ultra-rapid antibody discovery technologies and already have discovered SARS-CoV-2 antibodies,” Crowe said. “Our partners have the manufacturing and product development expertise to turn these antibodies into effective biological drugs very quickly.”


Massachusetts Consortium on Pathogen Readiness

In early March, Harvard Medical School hosted a historic workshop on COVID-19 where attendees—from clinicians, epidemiologists and virologists to biopharmaceutical and government representatives—laid out a framework for a coordinated and collaborative response to the pandemic currently sweeping across the globe.

Their efforts established the Massachusetts Consortium on Pathogen Readiness (MassCPR), a large, multi-institutional initiative to develop and invest in the research and infrastructure needed to address the threat posed by COVID-19, as well as to better position the world for future emerging pathogens.


J&J expands partnership with HHS to accelerate the discovery of potential COVID-19 treatments

J&J announced Feb. 18 that its Janssen Pharmaceutical Companies will expand its existing partnership with the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), part of the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) at the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS), to seek treatment solutions for COVID-19.

The expanded partnership with BARDA builds on J&J’s multi-pronged response to the COVID-19 outbreak. These efforts, in addition to the ongoing development of a potential vaccine candidate, bring hope of finding a solution against COVID-19 for communities in greatest need in China and around the world.


COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium brings together government, industry and academia to speed up solutions to the evolving pandemic

The White House announced March 23 the launch of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium, a collaboration among various industry, government, and academic institutions which will aim to make their supercomputing resources available to the wider research community, in an effort to speed up the search for solutions to the evolving COVID-19 pandemic.

Participants include: MIT, RPI, University of California, San Diego, IBM, Amazon Web Services, Google Cloud, Microsoft, Hewlett Packard Enterprises, NASA, National Science Foundation and five of the U.S. Department of Energy National Laboratories.


VUMC and AstraZeneca join forces to identify potential COVID-19 treatments

Under a recently signed agreement, genetic sequences for antibodies discovered in the Vanderbilt Vaccine Center will be provided to AstraZeneca for identification of the most promising candidates for clinical assessment and future clinical use.