COVID-19 Clinical Testing Oversight Committee

Published by David B. Roth, MD, PhD, on May 04, 2020

May 4 Update: From the Chair

Dear Members of the Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Community,

There are many beautiful songs by The Beatles, but one of my favorites has always been "Here Comes the Sun." Following an idea from our Princeton colleagues, this song will be played overhead at the hospital to indicate that a COVID-19 patient is being discharged and to recognize COVID-19 survivorship, which is a hallmark achievement for patients, their families, and our clinical teams. It is a wonderful gesture and part of a survivorship recognition program that is taking shape.

We are carefully returning toward normal operations in phased and balanced steps, since we believe that we have passed our peak COVID-19 census and are in what we project to be a slow decline, one that will occur over several months. As this census ramps down, we are planning to ramp up other services on a limited basis. During this time, we know that patients and their families will have many questions about safety, testing, prioritization, visitor policy, post-discharge planning, and insurance. To ensure that patients receive answers consistent with our policies and guidelines we have created an FAQ available here.

In the last few weeks we have established a COVID-19 Clinical Testing Oversight Committee that reviews and prioritizes requests for testing to promote optimal utilization of UPHS testing capacity and develop recommendations for serology testing when available. Dr. Peter Quinn, Chief Physician Executive for the Penn Medicine Medical Group (PMMG), and Bob Challender, COO of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, have kindly agreed to co-chair this committee. Drs. Laurel Glaser and Chris Watt are among the faculty members on the committee. Requests for testing and questions regarding testing should be directed to the administrative support for the committee at

There are also new Testing FAQ and Guidelines available on the Remote Access Portal through the COVID-19 Update section on top.

Bravo to our CP residents! They produced their own viral transport media (VTM) based on CDC guidelines to create collection kits for COVID-19 testing. Last week they reached their goal of producing 10,000 VTM units (which equals 10,000 collection kits, once VTM are paired with swabs). Nicely done!

Congratulations, too, to Drs. Jorge Henao-Mejia, and colleagues Sarah Henrickson and Golnaz Vahedi, for receiving a Chan Zuckerberg Initiative award to study inflammation and childhood obesity! (Read the Penn Medicine news release.)

I am happy to share a fantastic report from the Lambris Lab on the first case of COVID-19 treated with the complement C3 inhibitor AMY-101. More patients can potentially be treated by targeting the complement system, as they summarize in a Nature Reviews Immunology comment.

Our Dr. Bruce Levine is the incoming President of the International Society for Cell and Gene Therapy (ISCT). Their annual meeting was scheduled for Paris at the end of May, but has now been transformed into an extensive and immersive online meeting, including 35 sessions with over 50 hours of live and on-demand streaming, six live-broadcasted Plenary Sessions focusing on the latest translation advancements from basic research, pre-clinical studies and clinical trials for a variety of therapeutic modalities including MSCs, immune effector cells, exosomes, gene-engineered cells, and iPSCs, Chief Scientific Officer Showcase on COVID-19 reporting from the front line, as well as hot topics in Strategies for Commercialization and Quality and Operations, and 500+ abstracts discussing the latest data and research outputs. More information is available here.

And finally, all that sourdough you and I have been making could help scientists and advance the study of microbiology, reports CNN. Good to know.

Many of you have been pushed outside of your comfort zones. Others have been making heroic efforts on behalf of others. Be sure to spend some time taking care of yourselves. If you don't take care of yourself, sooner or later you may not be able to take care of someone else.

David Roth

David B. Roth, MD, PhD, is the Simon Flexner Professor and Chair of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these blog columns are those of the authors or other attributed individuals and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Department, Penn Medicine, or the University of Pennsylvania. Health information is provided for educational purposes and should not be used as a source of medical advice or diagnosis.