The University of Minnesota has announced a $35 million grant from Minnesota Masonic Charities that will be used to create the Masonic Institute for the Developing Brain. This interdisciplinary institute will be led by the Medical School and College of Education and Human Development (CEHD), focusing on typical and disordered neurodevelopment from birth through adolescence. The institute will be co-directed by Drs. Michael Georgieff, Director of the Center for Neurobehavioral Development (a Consortium member), and Damien Fair, who will join the faculty in July from Oregon Health & Science University. More information is available here.
The Strategic Partnerships and Research Collaborative (SPARC) is the Consortium’s newest member center, elected by vote of the current members. SPARC was established at the U in January 2019 as an innovation and research hub, and is led by Professors Amy Kircher, DrPH, and Katey Pelican, PhD, DVM. SPARC engages researchers across a wide range of disciplines for large-scale programs and grant proposals at the intersection of science and society. Find out more about SPARC here.
The Consortium’s NIH-funded grant on the law of genomics, led collaboratively with Vanderbilt University, has just published a major symposium in the Journal of Law, Medicine & Ethics on "LawSeq: Building a Sound Legal Foundation for Translating Genomics into Clinical Application." The symposium features three open-access articles offering recommendations on legal changes to address liability threats, quality challenges in genomics, and confusion between different domains of genomics (research, clinical care, public health, and direct-to-consumer). Additional articles address further legal and policy challenges including privacy and research participant protections, stakeholder perceptions, and sound regulatory approaches. The full symposium is available online and on the Consortium website.
In a New York Times op-ed on April 28, Michael T. Osterholm and Mark Olshaker analyze the challenges of diagnostic testing for COVID-19, including the potential for false negatives, the fact that individuals would need to be screened repeatedly, and accuracy issues. They also warn of problems with antibody testing. They recommend testing improvements, including greater FDA oversight, increased production of testing reagents and equipment, and intensified “syndromic surveillance.” Prof. Osterholm is Director of CIDRAP, a Consortium member center. Read the full article here.
The University of Minnesota Genomics Center, a Consortium member center, worked with the University of Minnesota Medical School, the Molecular Diagnostics Lab, and M Health Fairview to develop a procedure that increases COVID-19 testing volume. Findings were recently published in bioRxiv so other institutions can utilize the new procedure and mitigate the current testing shortage. More information on how the testing procedure was refined and improved is available on the Medical School Website.
As COVID-19 can cause severe issues for people with compromised immune systems, the Masonic Cancer Center, a Consortium member, and their clinical partner, M Health Fairview, are making changes in order to minimize risk and ensure cancer patients are not unnecessarily exposed. Adjustments include utilizing video-supported visits with oncologists and changes to scheduling that ensure patients interact with as few people as possible. Read more on the Masonic Cancer Center website here.