Columbia Volunteer Scientists Aid COVID-19 Response

Lab researchers lend their support to frontline clinicians, from collecting patients' swabs to monitoring equipment malfunctions. 

April 10, 2020

A team of 400 Columbia volunteer scientists has jumped in to assist with the growing demands on clinical and support staff struggling to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The scientists, primarily students, postdocs and lab researchers, are applying their skills across Columbia University Irving Medical Center where they are needed most, from collecting patients’ lab samples to troubleshooting malfunctioning equipment

“We felt that even though we aren’t on the front lines of patient care, as researchers, our expertise and skill sets are a valuable resource that could be tapped into in a number of ways,” said Kenneth Olive, a researcher at the Herbert Irving Comprehensive Cancer Center and one of the group’s organizers.

The scientists already have helped process 1,200 COVID-19 patient samples for lab testing, including plasma and nasopharyngeal swabs that will enable critical research at CUIMC. Other efforts include launching an on-call team for lab equipment failures on campus and building a database of all COVID-19-focused research at Columbia.

“There are so many across our campus who are working overtime to meet the challenge of this pandemic,” said Olive, who in addition to his work as a cancer researcher is an associate professor of medicine at Columbia’s Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons.

To learn more about Columbia Researchers Against COVID-19, visit the group’s website and follow their activities on Twitter @Columbia_CRAC.  To read the full story, click here.