CTSI Takes Action on COVID-19

CTSI Teams Support Communities at Duke, in Durham, and Beyond

June 11, 2020

Durham skyline

For the past few months, most groups across Duke have had to adjust to a new way of working amid the COVID-19 pandemic. For the Duke Clinical and Translational Science Institute (CTSI), this time has been spent exploring new ways to support communities in Duke, Durham, and beyond.

Working with the Duke Community

In May, the CTSI sponsored “A Call to Action: Identifying next steps to address biomedical, health care, and social drivers of COVID-19 disparities” research symposium. This online university-wide discussion on COVID-19 disparities and health equity examined the causes, consequences, and solutions related to COVID-19 and its impact on our community.

The symposium speakers and panelists represented disciplines from lab science to community and population health science and included experts in environmental and social science as well as ethics and policy. Key representatives from the community, including leaders from local clinics and the Department of Social Security, as well as the Durham County Sheriff, offered their perspectives on the community’s response to the pandemic and what can be done to recognize and repair the evident health disparities. 

The CTSI will host another virtual symposium on July 9, "Research Resilience in the Age of COVID-19: Insights from Sponsors and Investigators." Information on that virtual event can be found on the CTSI website.

Resources from the symposium, including session recordings and PowerPoint slides, are available on the CTSI website.

Engaging the Durham Community

The Community Engaged Research Initiative (CERI) has developed a page on the Community-Engaged Research e-Library dedicated to COVID-19 resources. In May, CERI staff members presented the e-Library to the Community Engagement Brokers across the CTSAs. The e-Library’s COVID-19 resources include health and safety guidelines, resources in English and Spanish, and research and volunteer opportunities.

CERI supported Durham’s Partnership for Seniors’ online COVID-19 Telephone Reassurance Training in early April and continues to be involved in a working group that is helping to write and provide COVID-19 health information to older adults in the Durham community. CERI also worked with the partnership to write a rapid response Duke Corporate Partnership for Durham’ COVID-10 recovery grant proposal titled “Durham’s Partnership for Seniors and More - COVID-19 Response:Making Connections While Distancing. The goal of the grant is to provide essential information and supplies to socially isolated older adults and to train existing community connectors/champions as community health workers to make connections with older adults. The Partnership received an award of $50,000.

CERI has also been responding to a greater number of consultation requests since March: 23 consults were conducted in March, April, and May.

Supporting Health Research Studies

Duke CTSI Translational Population Health Research has launched two new COVID-19 research projects involving the MURDOCK Study, a landmark community-based research project in Cabarrus County/Kannapolis, NC with more than 12,500 participants. Led by faculty director and MURDOCK Study principal investigator Dr. L. Kristin Newby, TransPop is co-located in Durham and in Kannapolis at the North Carolina Research Campus.

The MURDOCK Cabarrus County COVID-19 Prevalence and Immunity (C3PI) Study is a partnership with the State of North Carolina. The study follows changes to the health and well-being of MURDOCK Study volunteers over time and examines how the pandemic has affected participants and their household. This study is also testing a sub-group of survey participants for COVID-19 infection and serologic evidence of prior infection and potential immunity to COVID-19. Testing will help us understand how rates of COVID-19 infection change over time and learn more about potential immunity. The MURDOCK C3PI Study is led by Dr. Newby and Dr. Chris Woods with Duke’s Hubert-Yeargan Center for Global Health.

The MURDOCK COVID-19 Opinions, Perceptions & Experiences (COPE) Study looks at how participants feel in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and related events, how the pandemic and associated regulations may be affecting them and their family, and how these perceptions and experiences may change over time. The MURDOCK COPE Study is a partnership with Duke’s Social Science Research Institute (SSRI) and is led by Dr. Alexandra Cooper with SSRI and Dr. Newby.

Duke TransPop is also supporting recruitment for CovIdentify, a study led by Duke co-PIs Dr. Jessilyn Dunn and Dr. Ryan Shaw that may help predict early cases of COVID-19 infections in people and ultimately monitor the spread of the coronavirus by using data generated by wearable smart devices.

The Recruitment Innovation Center has worked to support the Healthcare Worker Exposure Response & Outcomes (HERO) Registry at Duke. The HERO Registry invites healthcare workers to share clinical and life experiences in order to understand the perspectives and problems faced by those on the COVID-19 pandemic front lines. HERO Registry participants may have the opportunity to participate in future research studies to improve our understanding of COVID-19 and beyond, generating evidence to help healthcare workers stay safe and healthy.

Learn more about the HERO Registry.