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InfoReady Review Supports Rapid Response COVID-19 Pilot Awards at Case Western Reserve University

Oversight Provided by the CTSC of Cleveland

[This article originally was posted on July 29, 2020 and featured in the August 2020 Clinical and Translational Science Collaborative (CTSC) newsletter. It is posted here with the permission of the Case Western Reserve University School of Medicine.]

In response to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, over 250 Case Western Reserve University faculty teamed up to form the COVID Research Taskforce, under the direction of Dr. Jonathan Karn and Dr. Nora Singer, one of the co-leads of the CTSC of Cleveland’s Hub Research Capacity component. “The goal of this university-wide initiative is to attack the pandemic from many sides,” said Singer, “addressing a wide range of COVID-related questions including understanding and advancing knowledge on fundamental virology and immunology of SARS-CoV-2; barriers and challenges in testing, tracing, diagnosis and treatment; impact of the pandemic on vulnerable populations, including essential workers, and impact on physical and mental health of the community; ensuring that we do important studies to treat and prevent the biological and psychosocial ramifications of COVID-19 and its aftermath.”

To support this effort, the Taskforce, with support from the CTSC of Cleveland and six other funding groups across campus, created a Rapid-Response COVID-19 Pilot Award to support new research initiatives that will make immediate progress towards reducing the harm to individuals, groups, and society from SARS-CoV-2 and the COVID-19 pandemic. Elaine Borawski, PhD, faculty lead of the CTSC Community and Collaboration component and her team coordinated the submission, review, and selection process on behalf of the Taskforce through InfoReady. 18 pilot projects from a pool of 48 were awarded within a one-month timeframe of submission.

“We knew from the beginning this would be a herculean task to coordinate in such a short period of time, but the InfoReady Multi-Track template allowed us to treat each funding group as a separate track, each with specific requirements and reviewers, while at the same time, maintaining a standardized, coordinated approach across all the whole pilot program. And now, we will continue using the system for tracking the progress through the internal reporting mechanism. We are grateful for the tremendous support we received from the IR technical support group. They were with us every step of the way,” said Elaine Borawski, PhD.

Together the seven funding partners awarded over $500,000 to fund 18 research pilot projects ranging from understanding lung immunity after COVID-19 and the role of glycemic control in COVID-19 disease severity, to developing new diagnostic methods and devices, to understanding neighborhood-level vulnerabilities and risks and the impact of COVID-19 on cancer patients.

The CTSC of Cleveland funded the following 5 projects, and co-sponsored one additional project with the CWRU Swetland Center for Environmental Health:

Addressing ethical, social, and regulatory issues in research during the COVID-19 pandemic

Awardee: Daniel Tisch and Aaron Goldenberg (Co-PI)

Departments of Population and Quantitative Health Sciences and Bioethics, CWRU School of Medicine

Proposal: “Research during the COVID-19 raises new ethical, social, and regulatory questions for researchers and participants. Our goal is to advance COVID-19 research ethics through engagement with stakeholders and the creation of regulatory guidance resources to support research during pandemics.

“This project bridges regulatory bodies (IRBs, public health departments, clinical care, and the research community) to promote an ‘ethical and socially grounded’ translational pipeline for COVID research.”

Determining the diagnostic and prognostic value of underlying cutaneous disease and cutaneous eruptions in patients with COVID-19

Awardee: Anthony Fernandez and Christine McDonald (Co-PI)

Department of Inflammation and Immunity, Cleveland Clinic

Proposal: “Skin manifestations of viral illnesses are common, and are sometimes used to identify infection or predict disease outcomes. Since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, a variety of rashes in affected patients have been described.

“Given that skin rashes can be easily identified visually and immediately acted upon, this study will define features of COVID-19 skin conditions using patient samples and determine their utility to define disease onset or predict disease outcomes in COVID-19 patients.”