Research Support for Clinical Care and Studies
Ross Boyce and Jessica Lin are both Assistant Professors in the Division of Infectious Diseases in the Department of Medicine, with a research focus on studying healthcare workers within the scope of COVID-19 as the pandemic progresses.
Researchers: Ross Boyce, Jessica Lin
Dirk Dittmer is a Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Director of the UNC Viral Genomics Core, and Director of the Virology and Global Oncology Programs in LCCC. Dittmer and the Viral Genomics Core are setting up high-throughput, high-sensitivity COVID-19 viral load assays to augment hospital operations and to support clinical trials and pre-clinical studies. In addition, they are implementing next generation sequencing assays to characterize COVID-19 strains and other infectious agents in clinical research studies. Members of the laboratory of Blossom Damania, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, are also involved in these efforts. Dittmer is also working with Melissa Miller, William Fischer, Subhashini Sellers, Ralph Baric and other faculty in the School of Medicine and Gillings School of Public Health.
Researchers: William Fischer, Subhashini Sellers, Ralph Baric, Melissa Miller, Dirk Dittmer, Blossom Damania
UNC is a global leader in infectious disease modeling, and decision with leadership from Myron Cohen, Associate Vice Chancellor for Global Health and Medical Affairs, Stephan Cole, Professor in the Dept of Epidemiology, Michael Kosorok, W.R. Kenan Distinguished Professor and Chair of the Dept of Biostatistics, Michael Hudgens Professor in the Department of Biostatistics all bring world class modeling teams to explore contact tracing, host-antigen interactions, machine learning and casual modeling expertise to the outbreak of SARS2-COVID19 pandemic.
Keywords: projections and modeling, healthcare sector workforce
Researchers: Stephan Cole, Myron Cohen, Michael Kosorok, Michael Hudgens
Lisa LaVange, Danyu Lin, Anastasia Ivanova, and Donglin Zeng, are globally recognized leaders in clinical study design, the complexity of clincal trials and their regulatory issues, adaptive clinical trials and methodologies to fast-track potential COVID19 therapeutics into the clinical trials pathways in the shortest amount of time available.
Keywords: clinical trials
Researchers: Lisa LaVange, Donglin Zeng, Danyu Lin, Anastasia Ivanova
Subhashini Sellers and William Fischer are both Assistant Professors in the Division of Pulmonary Diseases and Critical Care Medicine in the Department of Medicine. Using their expertise in respiratory pathogens, Sellers and Fischer are both working with Dirk Dittmer in testing of COVID-19 samples. The team has worked together previously and has published on respiratory viral burden in persons with HIV, a study which demonstrated the sensitivity of next-generation sequencing for testing of all viruses including coronavirus. Fischer was also involved in the Ebola crisis in 2014–2016, and contributed to an article with David Wohl in the New England Journal of Medicine about disparities in patient care of Ebola virus disease.
Researchers: William Fischer, Subhashini Sellers, Dirk Dittmer, David Wohl
David Wohl, Professor of Medicine, and Natalie Bowman, Assistant Professor of Medicine, are using their extensive knowledge of viral infections, epidemiology, and critical care medicine to track COVID-19 patients in the hospital and local community to help reduce the spread of SARS-CoV-2 infection as much as possible. David Wohl is also leading the UNC Respiratory Diagnostic units.
Researchers: Natalie Bowman, David Wohl
Several of our School of Medicine centers are also involved in COVID-19 work. These include the HIV Cure Center and the Marsico Lung Institute. The HIV Cure Center is focused on finding a cure for HIV/AIDS. Numerous investigators are using their virology backgrounds and technical expertise to help accelerate research and testing of COVID-19 samples. For example, David Margolis, Professor of Medicine, Microbiology and Immunology, Epidemiology and Director of the HIV Cure Center is planning clinical trials for COVID-19 patient and along with Edward Browne, Assistant Professor of Medicine, will be involved in assaying clinical samples in emerging human studies of COVID-19.
Researchers within the Marsico Lung Institute / UNC Cystic Fibrosis Center are dedicated to finding a cure for cystic fibrosis and lung disease, and members have wide-ranging skills and interest from ion transport physiology to mucus secretion, and gene-targeted murine models. Investigators in this institute are working as a team to map the entry sites for SARS-CoV-2 in the respiratory tract and explore the risk / benefit aspects of drugs commonly used to treat respiratory disease for COVID-19. Furthermore, a number of investigators are embarking on preclinical studies to identify biomarkers that will predict the trajectory of COVID-19 lung disease and novel therapeutic strategies to treat patients. These studies involve Richard Boucher, Director of the Marsico Lung Institute and the James C. Moeser Eminent Distinguished Professor of Medicine, Scott Randell, Associate Professor in the Department of Cell Biology and Physiology, Wanda O’Neal, Associate Professor of Medicine and Director of the Molecular Biology Core Laboratory, Matt Wolfgang, Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Ray Pickles, Associate Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, Brian Button, Associate Professor of Biochemistry and Biophysics with joint appointment in the Departments of Medicine and Biomedical Engineering, Charles Esther, Professor in the Department of Pediatrics, AlessanLivraghi-Butrico, Assistant Professor in the Department of Medicine, Mehmet Kesimer, Associate Professor in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Claire Doerschuk, Professor in the Departments of Medicine and Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Rob Hagan, Clinical Instructor in the Department of Medicine, Jason Mock, Assistant Professor of Medicine and Christine Vigeland, Clinical Instructor in the Department of Medicine.
All these faculty are members of the UNC Institute for Global Health and Infectious Diseases which fosters collaborative research to solve global health problems, reduce the burden of disease, and cultivate the next generation of global health leaders. Together these teams are working to understand SARS-CoV-2 and help find a cure to end the COVID-19 pandemic.
Finally, NC TraCS has been involved in supporting several COVID-19 clinical research projects in the SOM, including prophylactic trials on healthcare workers who are working with patients on the frontline of the epidemic. NC TraCS is also working with other CTSAs across the country to develop a database for COVID-19 patients.
Researchers: Wanda O’Neal, Scott Randell, Rob Hagan, Richard Boucher, Ray Pickles, Mehmet Kesimer, Matthew Wolfgang, Jason Mock, Edward Browne, David Margolis, Claire Doerschuk, Christine Vigeland, Charles Esther, Brian Button, Alessandra Livraghi-Butrico
Jacqueline Halladay is a Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Chair for Research at UNC Health Sciences at the Mountain-Area Heath Education Center (MAHEC) where she, along with Brian Cass at the UNC Sheps Center are engaged in a rapid needs assessment compiling lists of clinics providing primary care services, including health departments, FQHC’s, free clinics, etc. They leverage data collectors (medical students, research personnel from MAHEC and UNC, others to offer immediate assistance using established workforce of practice coaches, provide rapid linkages to resources — how to set up telehealth, how to get loans to keep operations going, how to follow CDC guidance, etc. — coupled with the Sheps Center team to drive data informed decisions about healthcare supply and demand.
Keywords: primary care, preparedness, nc healthcare coalition, nc dhhs, nc ahec, mahec, health care infrastructure, free clinics, emergency preparedness
Researchers: Jacqueline Halladay, Brian Cass
Tania Jenkins, Assistant Professor in the Department of Sociology, is developing a module specifically related to COVID-19 as part of her larger ethnographic study on physician burnout. She is also collaborating with scholars at the Gillings School of Global Public Health to explore research related to primary care provider burnout during the pandemic.