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.
In a recent article published by Thrive Global, Dr. K. “Vish” Viswanath, Professor of Health Communication at Harvard School of Public Health, and Dr. Michelle A. Wiliams, Dean of the Faculty at Harvard School of Public Health, offer five steps to help people and organizations communicate responsibly about COVID-19. Dr. Viswanath will join the Consortium to present a webcast on “Communicating Science to Reduce Health Disparities in a World of Communication Inequalities,” on Thursday, April 16. Prof. Sarah Gollust of the U of M’s School of Public Health will present the faculty commentary.
Profs. Debra DeBruin and Susan M. Wolf will co-lead the statewide Minnesota COVID Ethics Collaborative (MCEC), which supports sound ethical policy related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The collaborative is a joint venture of the Minnesota Department of Health, the State Health Care Coordination Center, Minnesota Hospital Association, and the University of Minnesota. DeBruin is Interim Director of the Center for Bioethics, a Consortium member center, and Wolf is Chair of the Consortium. Read more.
Scientific American has announced that Laura Helmuth, PhD, will be its new Editor-in-Chief. Dr. Helmuth is currently Health and Science Editor at The Washington Post. She will join the Consortium to present a webcast on “How the Mass Media Cover Health, Science, and the Environment—and What You Can Do to Help,” on Friday, April 3. Prof. Rebekah Nagler at the U of M’s Hubbard School of Journalism will present the faculty commentary. Read the full Scientific American announcement here.
The University of Minnesota’s Earl E. Bakken Center for Spirituality & Healing, a Consortium member center, has launched a webpage with resources meant to help health professionals, students, and other members of the community cope with the challenges presented by COVID-19. COVID-19: Bakken Center Information and Resources includes links to videos, podcasts, and printable handouts on topics including fear and anxiety, altruism, isolation, gratitude and self-care, prioritization, positivity, and mindfulness.
The Consortium’s NIH-funded grant analyzing the challenging ethical issues raised by emerging MRI technology just published a new article in Neuron. Prof. Francis Shen, Consortium Chair Susan Wolf and coauthors map the urgent issues raised by highly portable and cloud-enabled neuroimaging research, including consent, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) for analysis, management of incidental findings when remote from a medical center, and deployment in under-represented and under-resourced populations.
The University's 5th annual Research Ethics Week takes place March 2 - 6. This year, a record number of college and departments are offering events and training on ethics and integrity in research. Find more information about Research Ethics week here. Research Ethics Week is anchored by the annual Research Ethics Conference, this year on "The Power and Perils of Research Data: Generating, Storing & Sharing Data Responsibly." Register to attend in person or online here.
A Washington Post article by Michael T. Osterholm and Mark Olshaker states that, "Of all our endless wars, the most protracted is our war against dangerous microbes, of which the covid-19 coronavirus is the latest battle. Just as we honor our fallen warriors on the battlefield, we should honor 34-year-old Li Wenliang, the Wuhan physician who died of the disease last week after defying Chinese authorities by trying to get the word out about the growing outbreak." Dr. Osterholm is Director of CIDRAP, a Consortium member center. Read more.