Ohio researchers receive $10M grant to study impact of COVID-19 on first responders

Ohio State University researchers will conduct serological and molecular tests over a five-year period to study the virus' impact on first responders and their household contacts


Megan Henry
The Columbus Dispatch, Ohio

COLUMBUS, Ohio — Ohio State has been awarded a $10 million grant to look at the long-term impact of COVID-19 on first responders, health care workers and the general public.

The five-year grant is from the National Cancer Institute in the National Institutes of Health and will fund the Center for Serological Testing to Improve Outcomes from Pandemic COVID-19 (STOP-COVID) at Ohio State, according to a university news release.

Researchers at Ohio State University have received a $10 million grant to study the impact of COVID-19 on first responders and their households. (Photo/Fred Squillante, The Columbus Dispatch)
Researchers at Ohio State University have received a $10 million grant to study the impact of COVID-19 on first responders and their households. (Photo/Fred Squillante, The Columbus Dispatch)

The center will be integrated with the broader national Serological Sciences Network (SeroNet), which is working to better understand the immune response to COVID-19. Serological testing measures a person's immune response to an infection in the form of antibodies in the blood.

Congressional legislation included an emergency appropriation of $306 million to the National Cancer Institute "to develop, validate, improve, and implement serological testing and associated technologies" in response to the pandemic, according to NCI.

The Center to STOP-COVID will use serological and molecular tests to study first responders and their household contacts. It is estimated that nearly 2,000 participants will be followed over the five-year period.

The center will also study if people can be re-infected with COVID-19 once they've tested positive, why some people are at risk for being infected and symptomatic, and if infection to similar viruses provide immunity or worsen COVID-19 outcomes, according to the release.

Researchers at the College of Medicine and Wexner Medical Center will learn more about exposure risk, transmission, immune responses, disease severity, protection and barriers to testing and vaccination.

"We're excited to establish this important STOP-COVID Center. This will be invaluable in keeping abreast of current COVID-19 research," said Eugene Oltz, lead co-principal investigator for the study, in the news release. Oltz is also chair of the Department of Microbial Infection and Immunity at OSU's College of Medicine.

The center is partnering with the Columbus police and fire divisions.

This is one of the largest grants awarded to the College of Medicine, according to the release.

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©2020 The Columbus Dispatch (Columbus, Ohio)

McClatchy-Tribune News Service

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