Area congressman introduces legislation to support more COVID research and pandemic preparedness at academic medical centers like Upstate Medical University
Seeking to generate additional funding for academic medical centers, like SUNY Upstate Medical University, U.S. Rep. John Katko introduced the COVID-19 and Pandemic Response Centers of Excellence Act, bipartisan legislation that would support additional COVID-19 and pandemic preparedness research at academic medical centers like SUNY Upstate Medical University and the University of Rochester.
During the pandemic, academic medical centers have been at the forefront of the fight against COVID-19, providing critical expertise and research that has informed our nation’s public health response. Locally, facilities like SUNY Upstate and the University of Rochester have contributed research for new COVID-19 tests, as well as the development of vaccines and life-saving treatments for patients.
The COVID-19 and Pandemic Response Centers of Excellence would authorize the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to award federal funds to academic medical centers that have demonstrated a high level of expertise in COVID-19 research, like SUNY Upstate and the University of Rochester. Through this funding, the bill seeks to facilitate and expedite research to better understand COVID-19 variants, improve COVID-19 patient care and survivor recovery, expand mental health resources for healthcare workers, address healthcare disparities, advance vaccine research, and bolster future pandemic preparedness.
Upstate’s work on the pandemic was varied and significant. It conducted numerous clinical trials on a vaccine and possible COVID treatments and was one of four sites worldwide to enroll children under 5 years of age in the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine trial. With its research partner, Quadrant Biosciences, Upstate developed a diagnostic saliva COVID-19 test that was used widely by colleges and universities throughout New York.
“Medical centers like SUNY Upstate Medical University and the University of Rochester have been at the forefront of our pandemic response and recovery efforts. The critical research being done by our academic medical centers has not only informed public health guidance to keep us safe but also advanced several life-saving medical breakthroughs,” Katko said. “But more than a year has passed since the pandemic began, and we still have many unanswered questions.
Katko said the proposed legislation would fund research to provide a better understanding of COVID-19 variants and the impacts this virus has on our health, and how to better prepare for future public health emergencies.
“We applaud Rep. Katko’s leadership in underscoring the urgent need to help academic medical centers, including SUNY Upstate, in our unique role in this battle,” said Mantosh Dewan, MD, president of SUNY Upstate Medical University. “Since the start of the pandemic, Upstate has devoted enormous resources to create and deploy the nation’s best COVID-19 saliva test, to complete numerous clinical trials for the vaccine, and to pioneer groundbreaking treatments for this new virus.”