UMass Lowell Receives Nearly $1 Million to Study Fast COVID-19 Diagnostic Methods

File photograph. (Image licensed by Ingram Image.)

UMass Lowell researchers and students will help evaluate the effectiveness of new, rapid methods to diagnose COVID-19 through a program overseen by the National Institutes of Health.

The NIH awarded $935,000 to UMass Lowell’s Solomont School of Nursing for the project as part of the federal agency’s Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics, or RADx, initiative, created last year to help private industry develop affordable and accurate COVID-19 screening tests that can be administered and analyzed within minutes at home and at doctors’ offices, clinics, pharmacies, hospitals and community testing sites.

The project will be led by UMass Lowell Nursing Associate Professor Ainat Koren, along with Nursing Chair and Associate Professors Heidi Fantasia and Comfort Enah and Clinical Associate Professor Lisa Marchand.

“Nursing is at the forefront of the pandemic. Being an active participant in assisting with the development of accurate point-of-care devices is one of our roles as educators and leaders in the profession,” Koren said.

At UMass Lowell, nursing faculty and students will oversee RADx clinical trials that assess the viability of new products to help diagnose COVID-19 that are being developed by established and startup medical device and biotech companies. Products to be evaluated could be anything from more comfortable nasal swabs to the machines that analyze samples. The initiative will also involve community partners that can offer COVID-19 testing sites for the study.

The trials will be conducted in partnership with a medical group that offers drive-through testing, UMass Lowell’s own testing clinic and possibly mass testing events. Koren hopes to partner with a local hospital as well.

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