NJ ACTS Translating COVID-19 from Bench to Bedside



Health Care Worker COVID-19 Study

The Rutgers Corona Cohort Study 
Updated 9/1/20

We are moving into the 6th and final visit of the Rutgers Corona Cohort Study (RCC). 98% of the original group of participants completed the visit 8 weeks after the study began – a staggeringly impressive statistic and a testament to everyone’s commitment to this community effort.

Very fortunately, the rates of detectable SARS-CoV-2 infection in our participants have gone down considerably, from 5% in tests done at study entry and 2 weeks later, to 2% at the 4-week visit, to under 1% at the 8 week visit. These changes parallel the declines in the numbers of patients with COVID-19 who have been admitted to the participating hospitals (Figure 1) as well as the declines seen in New Jersey more broadly. Over this same time, we have seen antibodies to SARS-COV-2 rise from 1% at baseline, to 5% after 2 weeks, to about 8% after 4 and 8 weeks. Of note, the rates of both detectable virus and antibodies have differed quite a bit between the participating hospitals and between healthcare workers and others (Figure 2).

The research team is still working to understand whether everyone who had an infection produced antibodies, how people’s symptoms corresponded to the levels of antibodies, what types of antibodies people made, and how the levels of those antibodies have changed over time. We look forward to sharing what we learn on this website.

(Article and graphs by Daniel B. Horton, MD, MSCE, RWJ Medical School. Originally published in the Rutgers Corona Cohort Study Newsletter 7/17/20 and updated for the NJ ACTS website 9/1/20.)


COVID comic “How the COVID vaccine can save your life” recently spoke to Rutgers experts Dr. Rey Panettieri and Dr. David Cennimo to get an explanation and then grabbed  (digital) crayons to make a comic!

View the Slide Show Here!


Rutgers Awarded $5 Million NIH Grant to Improve Access to COVID-19 Testing

NJ ACTS received funding to launch outreach campaigns and expand access to testing for underserved and vulnerable communities in the state. The Rutgers-led study called the New Jersey Healthcare Essential Worker Outreach and Education Study – Testing Overlooked Occupations (NJ HEROES TOO) will be funded under NIH’s Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) initiative, RADx Underserved Populations (RADx-UP) program.

To read the full story.



Martin J. Blaser


Jeffery L. Carson


Reynold A. Panettieri

The principal investigators of the Moderna and Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine clinical trials at Rutgers discuss how the university became a site, and their challenges and successes

Carson Swaminathan





In the race to develop a vaccine to battle the coronavirus, Rutgers has served as a site for Phase 3 COVID-19 clinical trials for two of the country’s pharmaceutical giants. Jeffrey Carson, a Distinguished Professor of Medicine at Rutgers Robert Wood Johnson Medical School and principal investigator at Rutgers for the Johnson & Johnson trial, and Shobha Swaminathan, associate professor of medicine at Rutgers New Jersey Medical School and clinical research site leader for the Moderna trial, discuss how the medical schools were selected and give an inside look at the process of creating a safe and effective vaccine.

To read the full story.


Rutgers Researcher Invents Microbiota Formula to Help High-Risk Patients Fight COVID-19

A Rutgers scientist has invented an early treatment for COVID-19 to prevent severe complications and hospitalizations in patients with prediabetes and diabetes by increasing beneficial bacteria in the gut and reducing organisms that cause coronavirus. The treatment – created by researcher Liping Zhao – was given the Investigational New Drug status by the Food and Drug Administration and will start Phase 2a trial Feb. 8. While the treatment, NBT-NM108, does not target the coronavirus directly, it does help to create stable foundation for a healthy digestive tract.

To read the full story.



Workforce Development Team Aids in COVID-19 Vaccine Trials






Rutgers has been instrumental in getting the coronavirus vaccines to the public – most recently leading one of the largest phase 3 clinical trials sites in the world for the FDA emergency-use authorized Johnson & Johnson vaccine, which is expected to play a pivotal role in stemming the pandemic.

Behind the university’s crucial efforts at New Jersey Medical School and Robert Wood Johnson Medical School is a Rutgers-led collaborative established two years ago to create clinical trial innovations that can speed the translation of research discoveries into improved patient care.

To read the full story.



Researchers Study Virus Evolution Trends Relevant for COVID-19 and Other Pandemics

One year after the first COVID-19 case was reported, researchers and medical professionals continue to learn more about the virus that causes it. Through a $188,253 National Science Foundation grant, Rutgers University‒Camden researcher Andrey Grigoriev is studying the RNA genome of the coronavirus behind COVID-19 – and trying to anticipate how to combat its mutations in the future. “Viruses undergo frequent mutations, and the worldwide effort of sequencing the RNA of thousands of coronavirus isolates allows us to analyze them using computational methods,” says Grigoriev, a Rutgers‒Camden professor of biology. “We search for the regions in the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus genome that mutate rarely and try to understand what the reasons for such stability of these regions are.”

To read the full story.






Princeton technology could help improve COVID-19 vaccines

covid shotA new technology being developed by Princeton University researchers and alumni could offer a more effective and robust delivery method for COVID-19 vaccines. Compared to current vaccines, the technology, which relies on a new type of nanoparticle, could introduce five times as much of the vaccine’s active ingredient, mRNA, into recipients’ cells. This technology will be a boon for triggering a stronger immune response while also providing a more scalable vaccine production line, according to Robert Prud’homme, a professor of chemical and biological engineering, and Shahram Hejazi, a faculty member at the Keller Center for Innovation in Engineering Education, “We had shown that we could encapsulate mRNA prior to the pandemic, but when COVID struck and Pfizer and Moderna said ‘Let’s use mRNA technology for vaccines,’ we said, ‘Ok, with our technology we think we can do an even better job,’” Prud’homme said.  “Our technique will allow the delivery of mRNA for COVID at higher loadings than with traditional technology.” To read the full story.


Princeton researchers study the many impacts of COVID-19

Within days of shutting down their laboratories in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, Princeton researchers were asking how they could help. “Many members of the Princeton faculty reached out with requests for opportunities to use their knowledge, ideas and skills to assist in combating the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dean for Research Pablo Debenedetti, the Class of 1950 Professor in Engineering and Applied Science and a professor of chemical and biological engineering. To read the full story.


NJIT Software May Help Scientists Communicate About COVID

NJIT software

Every complex scientific field needs an ontology, and soon the primary one that covers COVID-19 will be easier for medication and vaccination researchers to understand, using new interpretive methods and software developed by experts at NJIT’s Ying Wu College of Computing.

Ontologies are essentially dictionaries and maps of medical terms. Terms with the same meaning, such as cardiac arrest and myocardial infarction, are grouped together. Each group is called a concept. Concepts in turn are connected to each other using arrows and boxes to indicate which are general and which are specific. New concepts are often called children and older ones are parents, as in genealogy.

Read the full article.