Scientists at the University of Minnesota Genomics Center are analyzing wastewater samples in an effort to track the spread of COVID variants. This gives scientists and policy-makers another tool to track the spread COVID variants, in addition to clinical testing. The Star Tribune reports, “Kenny Beckman, director of the U Genomics Center, said a long-term goal is to develop a way to rule out the presence of newer strains.” The Genomics Center is a Consortium member center. Read more about their efforts here.
Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, chair of the Biden-Harris Administration COVID-19 Health Equity Task Force, recently spoke to the New York Times about racial disparities in the health system, vaccine hesitancy, structural barriers to administering vaccines, and her role in the Biden-Harris administration. Read the full article here. Dr. Nunez-Smith will be a featured speaker for “Conducting Research in the COVID-19 Pandemic: Ethics in an Emergency,” the Consortium’s annual research ethics webinar. The webinar takes place Wednesday, March 3 from 9:00am - 1:30pm Central time (NOTE: Dr. Nunez-Smith will no longer be able to join us. Please see the conference webpage for more details). Register now to attend.
The March of Dimes recently announced Prof. Michael Georgieff as the recipient of the 2020 Agnes Higgins Award. This award is given for “distinguished achievement in research, education or clinical services in the field of maternal-fetal nutrition.” Prof. Georgieff was recognized for his research on how iron deficiency in early life can cause lasting neurobehavioral effects. Prof. Gerogieff is co-Director of the Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain, and a longtime member of the Consortium’s Executive Committee. Read more about Prof. Georgieff’s award here.
The 2021 Research Ethics Day webinar will be held online by Zoom Wednesday, March 3 from 9:00am - 1:30pm Central. "Conducting Research in the COVID-19 Pandemic: Ethics in an Emergency" will feature national leaders including Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith of Yale Medical School, who is leading a White House task force dedicated to health equity; Abigail Echo-Hawk, Director of the Urban Indian Health Institute; and Dr. Christine Grady, Chief of Bioethics at the National Institutes of Health. Experts will discuss how the COVID-19 pandemic is changing research ethics, including how to advance ethics and equity when conducting pandemic research, how to reconcile the need for research with the clinical imperative to save lives, and how the pandemic is affecting research design. See more information and register.
The Institute on the Environment (IonE) is now accepting applications for its affiliates program. Applications for 2021, including letters of nomination, are due March 31, 2021. IonE currently offers four categories of affiliation: IonE Fellows have established a career related to environmental protection or sustainability; IonE Associates are early-career researchers and instructors interested in environmental scholarship; IonE Educators are tenure-track faculty and instructional staff interested in pedagogy and curriculum development; and IonE Visiting Scholars are faculty on sabbatical, partners at non-university organizations, or other senior members of the University of Minnesota community. IonE is a Consortium member center. Find more information on the IonE website.
In an article published in Minnesota Medicine, Professors Susan Wolf and Debra DeBruin describe the formation and work of the Minnesota COVID Ethics Collaborative (MCEC). MCEC includes over 70 multidisciplinary experts from across the state and is co-chaired by Profs. Wolf and DeBruin. MCEC has provided guidance to the Minnesota Department of Health on allocation of ventilators and critical care resources, remdesivir, convalescent plasma, and other treatments for COVID-19. Prof. Wolf is Chair of the Consortium and Prof. DeBruin is Interim Director of the Center for Bioethics, a Consortium member center.