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Published March 27, 2020

by Neal Buccino

This article originally appeared in Rutgers Today.

Rutgers has created a new center to coordinate the university’s myriad research and public health and outreach efforts to combat COVID-19.

“Given our expertise and the health needs at the state and national levels, we are excited to announce the establishment of the Center for COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness to address SARS CoV-2, the causative pathogen of COVID-19, and other emerging pathogen threats,” said Brian Strom, chancellor of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (RBHS) and executive vice president for Health Affairs.

The center’s goal is to serve as an institutional hub for Rutgers’ COVID-19 research activities and information dissemination.

David Alland, director of Rutgers’ Public Health Research Institute and chief of infectious diseases at New Jersey Medical School, will serve as the director of the new center, which will operate within the Rutgers Institute for Infectious and Inflammatory Diseases (i3D). He will work closely with a scientific advisory board that will provide input and guidance. Alland is internationally recognized for his pioneering work on the epidemiology, diagnosis, treatment and molecular evolution of M. tuberculosis, and he has been a leader in the development of rapid diagnostic tests for infectious biothreats. His lab also played a crucial role in evaluating a new test for SARS CoV-2.

“I’m very excited about this opportunity and look forward to working in every way possible with the Rutgers research community as well as external stakeholders and partners,” Alland said.

Institutional resources from RBHS, Rutgers’ Office of Research and Economic Development and Rutgers-New Brunswick will be made available to the new center in an effort to secure external funding for additional research.

Over the last several months, Rutgers has rapidly responded to the COVID-19 pandemic using strengths that collectively are unique to the university. These strengths include the Rutgers Institute for Infectious and Inflammatory Diseases (i3D), a global leader in infectious disease research; NJMS/i3D biosafety level 3 laboratories that are equipped to study dangerous pathogens; world-class, health-related schools that include medicine, nursing, pharmacy, public health, dentistry and health professions, in addition to several renowned centers and institutes; world-class engineering, computational sciences, social sciences, business, law, artificial intelligence and machine learning capabilities; and the Rutgers Institute for Translational Medicine and Science, which facilitates clinical and translational research via several research cores.

“We have no doubt that our new center will be nationally renowned not only as related to COVID-19 research but also other serious infection-related research and preparedness,” said Bishr Omary, senior vice chancellor for Academic Affairs and Research at RBHS.

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