Rutgers creates COVID-19 center to fight pandemic

David Hutter//March 25, 2020

Rutgers creates COVID-19 center to fight pandemic

David Hutter//March 25, 2020

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

Dr. William Gause works at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School. He is part of a research team that is participating in a first external evaluation of COVID-19 tests. Gause spoke with NJBIZ.

“We are doing a number of different research projects,” Gause said. “One is the rapid point of care diagnostic test. It has recently been launched that will allow detection of this virus. It is highly sensitive and it can be tested at local sites. It does not require someone to go to a hospital. The test takes 45 minutes so you can get the results very quickly with this test.”

“We are interested in doing clinical trials, which will allow us to do tests in terms of sampling to see if there may be approaches other than nasal swabs, such as saliva or sputum, that may be able to detect the virus,” Gause said. “We want to see if there are other kinds of sampling that we might be able to use to facilitate the whole testing process.”

Gause also said they have other clinic trials going on.

“We are proposing to do a clinic trial on health care workers to determine the development of COVID in health care workers compared with non-health care workers.”

Rutgers is doing other projects. One is studying the immune response that develops with the SARS-CV 2 virus.

“The new center allows us to focus on research involved with COVID-19,” Gause said.

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

Gause will be the director of the Rutgers Institute for Infectious and Inflammatory Diseases (i3D).

“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,” Brian Strom, chancellor of Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences and executive vice president for Health Affairs, said in a statement.

Dr. David Alland, director of Rutgers’ Public Health Research Institute and chief of infectious diseases at the New Jersey Medical School, will serve as the director of the Center for COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness, which will be within the Rutgers Institute for Infectious and Inflammatory Diseases. He will work closely with a Scientific Advisory Board that will provide input and guidance. Alland is internationally recognized for his 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 stake holders and partners,” Alland said in a statement.

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

“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.