Catalyzing the CTSA “Power” to Serve the Vulnerable and Underserved

As COVID-19 continues as a top priority at all levels of our research enterprise, finding strategies to contain the spread of the virus and better treat the disease and its complications remains paramount. RADx-UP is an NIH initiative to support the development of community-engaged projects across the United States to assess and expand COVID-19 testing for underserved and/or vulnerable populations, which include health disparity populations, particularly African Americans and American Indians/Alaska Natives; those in nursing homes, jails, rural areas, or underserved urban areas; pregnant women; and the homeless.

CTSA hubs are well-positioned for this type of endeavor and many are actively participating in RADx-UP through their UL1 CTSA hub awards or by collaborating with other institutions. CTSA hub cores involved in Community Engagement, Bioinformatics, Biostatistics, Education, Dissemination and Implementation are especially well-suited and ready to re-direct additional effort to develop, demonstrate and disseminate highly innovative, feasible and impactful (within a short timeline) approaches to respond to the pandemic.

Through the RADx-UP competitive process, six of our CTSA hub UL1 awards were selected by NIH as part of RADx-UP efforts. NCATS’ CTSA program has received the most RADx-UP awards among all NIH Institutes and Centers. Also, the Coordination and Data Collection Center (CDCC) managed through NIMHD was awarded to Duke University, one of our CTSA hubs. Under RADx-UP these grants will tackle several issues on reaching vulnerable populations more efficiently and comprehensively, while tracking and adapting to possible changes in the pandemic spreading landscape.

Our hope is that these activities improve availability and access to testing to underserved communities. Local effects at the community level should then translate into national impact ultimately to mitigate the spread and bring this devastating pandemic under control. We are in this together and only together we can achieve the most needed results for the benefit of ALL.

List of NCATS CTSA UL1 awards that received supplemental support through RADx-UP NOT-OD-20-121:

Project Title: Clinical and Translational Science Award
Awardee: Medical College of Wisconsin
Project Number3UL1TR001436-06S1
Funding Opportunity AnnouncementNOT-OD-20-121
Summary: This project will perform community-engaged research using randomized COVID-19 tests among vulnerable populations in Milwaukee County, Wisconsin. The study will focus on understanding COVID infection and progression rates and how they vary with patient characteristics.

Project Title: The OSU Center for Clinical and Translational Science: Advancing Today’s Discoveries to Improve Health
Awardee: Ohio State University
Project Number3UL1TR002733-03S3
Funding Opportunity AnnouncementNOT-OD-20-121
Summary: This study will address and reduce the disparities in COVID-19 education, testing, contact testing, follow-up and treatment among minority, underserved, vulnerable populations in 12 selected counties in Ohio.

Project Title: Community-Academic Partnership to Address COVID-19 Among Utah Community Health Centers
Awardee: University of Utah
Project Number3UL1TR002538-03S4
Funding Opportunity AnnouncementNOT-OD-20-121
Summary: This study will employ 39 community health centers across the state to help underrepresented individuals using three pathological, multilevel interventions to increase screening and testing uptake. This technology-based strategy will employ the use of EHR record analysis and text screening to identify high-risk individuals and connect them to patient navigators.

Project Title: New Jersey Alliance for Clinical and Translational Science: NJ ACTS
Awardee: Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences
Project Number3UL1TR003017-02S2
Funding Opportunity AnnouncementNOT-OD-20-121
Summary: This study proposes COVID-19 screening programs serving lower-income health care workers and support staff. The study aims to catalyze COVID-19 testing in their households, extended families/networks, and ultimately, amplify community-based testing in vulnerable, underserved populations among low-income, Black and Latino/Latina minority communities in New Jersey counties.

Project Title: Center for Clinical and Translational Sciences (CCTS)
Awardee: University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston
Project Number3UL1TR003167-02S1
Funding Opportunity AnnouncementNOT-OD-20-121
Summary: This study will identify dynamic disease hotspots and testing deserts in racially diverse regions of South (Houston/Harris County) and Northeast Texas.

Project Title: RADx-UP: Improving the Response of Local Urban and Rural Communities to Disparities in COVID-19 Testing
Awardee: University of Kansas Medical Center
Project Number3UL1TR002366-04S3
Funding Opportunity AnnouncementNOT-OD-20-121
Summary: This study proposes to examine the effectiveness of a Learning Collaborative’s effort that helps local community organizations address disparities in COVID-19 testing by building
“Local Health Equity Action Teams” in 10 disproportionally COVID-19-affected counties.

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Stay positive and test negative,

“Do not seek to be seen. Seek to be understood.
For those that are understood are the only ones ever truly seen.”

–    James Michael Corey