Previous Awardees of the Dean’s Emergency Research Response Fund

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.  STARTS activities have included:

  • Leading webinars for teachers sponsored by Massachusetts Teacher’s Association and Massachusetts Public Health Association
  • Meeting with superintendents of large urban districts to plan teacher vaccination programs
  • Leading community forums in three cities
  • Developing metrics for identifying towns and cities that should be receiving early interventions in pre-pandemic response
  • Developing a system to aggregate and monitor all school dashboards in Massachusetts for COVID cases
  • Developing a system to aggregate and monitor case rates and testing for all 351 Massachusetts towns and cities from August through March

In addition, through his work with STARTS, Mr. Geller and colleagues received the 2021 Massachusetts Teacher’s Association President’s Award.