Published March 27, 2020
by Scott Fogdall
Supporting Rutgers’ efforts to combat COVID-19
COVID-19 is a rapidly growing threat to communities around the world. It is powerful and relentless—but it is not unbeatable. To confront and combat this microbial enemy, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences (RBHS) has established the Center for COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness (CCRP2). Designed to be an institutional hub for COVID-19 research activities and public outreach, the center brings the best Rutgers has to offer—world-class clinical and technological infrastructure, cutting-edge research programs, and respected scientists—to help conquer the defining crisis of our time.
Rutgers has emerged as a major participant in the anti-COVID-19 battle through its collaboration with molecular research company Cepheid on a recently evaluated point-of-care test for the virus. David Alland, chief of infectious diseases at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and director of the Public Health Research Institute, helped develop the test along with his colleagues Padmapriya Banada and Sukalyani Banik. This groundbreaking diagnostic test will enable decentralized testing for COVID-19, even in physicians’ offices, permitting physicians to make rapid decisions about quarantine, hospitalization, and treatments. “The test performed even better than our expectations,” Alland says, “and we are encouraged about the potential to help control the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Alland recently added a new role to his many responsibilities at Rutgers, serving as the first director of the CCRP2. In a statement announcing the new center, RBHS chancellor Brian Strom, Rutgers University–New Brunswick chancellor Christopher Molloy, and David Kimball, senior vice president of Rutgers’ Office of Research and Economic Development, praised Alland’s work in epidemiology. “We have no doubt that CCRP2 will be a nationally renowned center not only related to COVID-19 research, but also other serious infection-related research and preparedness,” the three said in a statement.
Although RBHS is a hub of cutting-edge medical research, it is encountering the same challenges that face health care providers nationwide. In a recent statement, Strom described a dire need for key medical supplies, especially personal protective devices for medical professionals as they provide treatment and conduct studies. The Rutgers COVID-19 Response Fund directly supports RBHS’s efforts to combat this horrific pandemic. Donations to this fund can be made quickly and easily, and will support clinical care, research, and education at RBHS, the state’s leading academic medical center.
“Dollars to support these areas of research are urgently needed and can’t arrive fast enough,” Strom says. Emphasizing this unprecedented level of urgency, he encouraged all community members to rally behind “our scientists, physicians, nurses, and medical students (as they) continue responding heroically to the spread of COVID-19.”