RADx-UP Testing Core: Access to COVID-19 Diagnostics in Community-Engaged Research with Underserved Populations.

Abstract

Research on the COVID-19 pandemic revealed a disproportionate burden of COVID-19 infection and death among underserved populations and exposed low rates of SARS-CoV-2 testing in these communities. A landmark National Institutes of Health (NIH) funding initiative, the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics-Underserved Populations (RADx-UP) program, was developed to address the research gap in understanding the adoption of COVID-19 testing in underserved populations. This program is the single largest investment in health disparities and community-engaged research in the history of the NIH. The RADx-UP Testing Core (TC) provides community-based investigators with essential scientific expertise and guidance on COVID-19 diagnostics. This commentary describes the first 2 years of the TC's experience, highlighting the challenges faced and insights gained to safely and effectively deploy large-scale diagnostics for community-initiated research in underserved populations during a pandemic. The success of RADx-UP shows that community-based research to increase access and uptake of testing among underserved populations can be accomplished during a pandemic with tools, resources, and multidisciplinary expertise provided by a centralized testing-specific coordinating center. We developed adaptive tools to support individual testing strategies and frameworks for these diverse studies and ensured continuous monitoring of testing strategies and use of study data. In a rapidly evolving setting of tremendous uncertainty, the TC provided essential and real-time technical expertise to support safe, effective, and adaptive testing. The lessons learned go beyond this pandemic and can serve as a framework for rapid deployment of testing in response to future crises, especially when populations are affected inequitably.

Department

Description

Provenance

Citation

Published Version (Please cite this version)

10.1128/jcm.00367-23

Publication Info

Narayanasamy, Shanti, Timothy H Veldman, Mark J Lee, William A Glover, L Gayani Tillekeratne, Coralei E Neighbors, Barrie Harper, Vidya Raghavan, et al. (2023). RADx-UP Testing Core: Access to COVID-19 Diagnostics in Community-Engaged Research with Underserved Populations. Journal of clinical microbiology, 61(8). p. e0036723. 10.1128/jcm.00367-23 Retrieved from https://hdl.handle.net/10161/29282.

This is constructed from limited available data and may be imprecise. To cite this article, please review & use the official citation provided by the journal.

Scholars@Duke

Narayanasamy

Shanti Narayanasamy

Adjunct Assistant Professor of Global Health
Lee

Mark Jae Lee

Assistant Professor of Pathology
Tillekeratne

Gayani Tillekeratne

Associate Professor of Medicine

Global health
Antimicrobial resistance/ stewardship
Acute respiratory tract infections 
Emerging infections/ dengue

Neighbors

Coralei Neighbors

Student

Coralei Neighbors is a 2nd-year Ph.D. Student in the Department of Population Health Sciences within the Duke School of Medicine. She received her Bachelor of Science in Education for Health Science Studies from Baylor University and her Master of Science in Global Health from Duke University. Coralei has experience in national and international infectious disease research, with interests in infectious disease surveillance, health economics, and global health policy.

Denny

Thomas Norton Denny

Professor in Medicine

Thomas N. Denny, MSc, M.Phil, is the Chief Operating Officer of the Duke Human Vaccine Institute (DHVI), Associate Dean for Duke Research and Discovery @RTP, and a Professor of Medicine in the Department of Medicine at Duke University Medical Center. He is also an Affiliate Member of the Duke Global Health Institute. Previously, he served on the Health Sector Advisory Council of the Duke University Fuquay School of Business. Prior to joining Duke, he was an Associate Professor of Pathology, Laboratory Medicine and Pediatrics, Associate Professor of Preventive Medicine and Community Health and Assistant Dean for Research in Health Policy at the New Jersey Medical School, Newark, New Jersey. He has served on numerous committees for the NIH over the last two decades and currently is the principal investigator of an NIH portfolio in excess of 65 million dollars. Mr. Denny was a 2002-2003 Robert Wood Johnson Foundation Health Policy Fellow at the Institute of Medicine of the National Academies (IOM). As a fellow, he served on the US Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee with legislation/policy responsibilities in global AIDS, bioterrorism, clinical trials/human subject protection and vaccine related-issues.

As the Chief Operating Officer of the DHVI, Mr. Denny has senior oversight of the DHVI research portfolio and the units/teams that support the DHVI mission. He has extensive international experience and previously was a consultant to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) for the President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) project to oversee the development of an HIV and Public Health Center of Excellence laboratory network in Guyana. In September 2004, the IOM appointed him as a consultant to their Board on Global Health Committee studying the options for overseas placement of U.S. health professionals and the development of an assessment plan for activities related to the 2003 PEPFAR legislative act. In the 1980s, Mr. Denny helped establish a small laboratory in the Republic of Kalmykia (former Soviet Union) to improve the care of children with HIV/AIDS and served as a Board Member of the Children of Chernobyl Relief Fund Foundation. In 2005, Mr. Denny was named a consulting medical/scientific officer to the WHO Global AIDS Program in Geneva. He has also served as program reviewers for the governments of the Netherlands and South Africa as well as an advisor to several U.S. biotech companies. He currently serves as the Chair of the Scientific Advisory Board for Grid Biosciences.

Mr. Denny has authored and co-authored more than 200 peer-reviewed papers and serves on the editorial board of Communications in Cytometry and Journal of Clinical Virology. He holds an M.Sc in Molecular and Biomedical Immunology from the University of East London and a degree in Medical Law (M.Phil) from the Institute of Law and Ethics in Medicine, School of Law, University of Glasgow. In 1991, he completed a course of study in Strategic Management at The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania. In 1993, he completed the Program for Advanced Training in Biomedical Research Management at Harvard School of Public Health. In December 2005, he was inducted as a Fellow into the College of Physicians of Philadelphia, the oldest medical society in the US.

While living in New Jersey, Mr. Denny was active in his community, gaining additional experience from two publicly elected positions. In 2000, Mr. Denny was selected by the New Jersey League of Municipalities to Chair the New Jersey Community Mental Health Citizens’ Advisory Board and Mental Health Planning Council as a gubernatorial appointment.

Tsalik

Ephraim Tsalik

Adjunct Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine

My research at Duke has focused on understanding the dynamic between host and pathogen so as to discover and develop host-response markers that can diagnose and predict health and disease.  This new and evolving approach to diagnosing illness has the potential to significantly impact individual as well as public health considering the rise of antibiotic resistance.

With any potential infectious disease diagnosis, it is difficult, if not impossible, to determine at the time of presentation what the underlying cause of illness is.  For example, acute respiratory illness is among the most frequent reasons for patients to seek care. These symptoms, such as cough, sore throat, and fever may be due to a bacterial infection, viral infection, both, or a non-infectious condition such as asthma or allergies.  Given the difficulties in making the diagnosis, most patients are inappropriately given antibacterials.  However, each of these etiologies (bacteria, virus, or something else entirely) leaves a fingerprint embedded in the host’s response. We are very interested in finding those fingerprints and exploiting them to generate new approaches to understand, diagnose, and manage disease.

These principles also apply to sepsis, defined as life-threatening organ dysfunction caused by a dysregulated host response to infection. Just as with acute respiratory illness, it is often difficult to identify whether infection is responsible for a patient’s critical illness.  We have embarked on a number of research programs that aim to better identify sepsis; define sepsis subtypes that can be used to guide future clinical research; and to better predict sepsis outcomes.  These efforts have focused on many systems biology modalities including transcriptomics, miRNA, metabolomics, and proteomics.  Consequently, our Data Science team has utilized these highly complex data to develop new statistical methods, furthering both the clinical and statistical research communities.

These examples are just a small sampling of the breadth of research Dr. Tsalik and his colleagues have conducted.  

In April 2022, Dr. Tsalik has joined Danaher Diagnostics as the VP and Chief Scientific Officer for Infectious Disease, where he is applying this experience in biomarkers and diagnostics to shape the future of diagnostics in ID. 

Reller

Megan Elizabeth Reller

Associate Professor of Medicine
Kibbe

Warren Alden Kibbe

Professor in Biostatistics & Bioinformatics

Warren A. Kibbe, PhD, is chief for Translational Biomedical Informatics in the Department of Biostatistics and Bioinformatics and Chief Data Officer for the Duke Cancer Institute. He joined the Duke University School of Medicine in August after serving as the acting deputy director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and director of the NCI’s Center for Biomedical Informatics and Information Technology where he oversaw 60 federal employees and more than 600 contractors, and served as an acting Deputy Director for NCI. As an acting Deputy Director, Dr. Kibbe was involved in the myriad of activities that NCI oversees as a research organization, as a convening body for cancer research, and as a major funder of cancer research, funding nearly $4B US annually in cancer research throughout the United States. 

Cohen-Wolkowiez

Michael Cohen-Wolkowiez

Kiser-Arena Distinguished Professor

Pediatric and adult clinical pharmacology and clinical trials.

Woods

Christopher Wildrick Woods

Wolfgang Joklik Distinguished Professor of Global Health

1. Emerging Infections
2. Global Health
3. Epidemiology of infectious diseases
4. Clinical microbiology and diagnostics
5. Bioterrorism Preparedness
6. Surveillance for communicable diseases
7. Antimicrobial resistance

Cathy Anne Petti

Adjunct Professor in the Department of Medicine

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