Michael Mina, Assistant Professor of Epidemiology (PI)
Marc Lipsitch, Professor of Epidemiology, Yonatan Grad, Melvin J. and Geraldine L. Glimcher Associate Professor of Immunology and Infectious Diseases (Co-PIs)
Advanced Immunological and Epidemiological Tools in Response to the Global Threat of SARS-CoV-2
The rapid spread of the novel virus made clear the need to develop modern diagnostic tools to better understand the epidemiological and immunological responses to SARS-CoV-2 for control, mitigation, and prevention of transmission, as well as for the treatment of clinical disease. Tools were urgently needed to monitor spread and provide information about the human response to the virus. With the Dean’s Emergency Research Response Fund, Dr. Mina and colleagues developed a coronavirus-specific phage display library that allowed characterization and monitoring of the immunological humoral response to infection for diagnostics, surveillance, and mathematical modeling of SARS-CoV-2 transmission. This library provides useful data for the development of therapeutics and vaccines.
Alan Geller, Senior Lecturer on Social and Behavioral Sciences (PI)
STARTS: Strategic Toolkit Advising the Return to School
With a recent surge in coronavirus and the emergence of new, more transmissible variants, getting students and teachers back in the classroom safely requires a major re-evaluation. To address this need, Alan Geller developed the Strategic Toolkit Advising the Return to School (STARTS), a combination of targeted public health metrics, mental health resources, and School-based mitigation interventions designed to help school leaders and communities make comprehensive, science-based decisions about schooling. Through his work with STARTS, Mr. Geller and colleagues received the 2021 Massachusetts Teacher’s Association President’s Award.
Alan Geller, Senior Lecturer on Social and Behavioral Sciences (PI) Forging Leading Organizations to Achieve COVID 19 Pediatric Vaccine Equity: The PEDVAX Project
Worried about side effects, many parents of children aged 5–11 are hesitant to vaccinate their children against COVID-19. Coupled with inherent inequities, the vaccine rollout for children of this age may present the toughest vaccination challenge yet. To vaccinate young people and their families in our highest risk communities, we propose PEDVAX, an immediate initiative to: Use school districts as vaccination sites for communities with low vaccination rates; and recruit more pediatricians and family physicians as Covid-19 vaccine providers, give them adequate supply of vaccine, and train them to counsel school administrators to offer advice on vaccinations to concerned parents. PEDVAX will empower the crucial yet diverse constituencies involved to be a powerful, collective and effective force in advancing vaccinations to more than 1M Massachusetts children yet to be immunized.