Research Resumption Taskforces and Antibody Tests in the News

Published by David B. Roth, MD, PhD, on April 27, 2020

April 27 Update: From the Chair

Dear Members of the Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Community,

Hospital leadership is thoughtfully mapping out a plan to enable non-COVID patients to return for their required care, while we continue to cohort and care for COVID patients. At the same time, the Vice Provost for Research has convened two Research Resumption Taskforces, one focusing on outlining a framework for managing a staged increase in laboratory and clinical research activities and the other focusing on non-clinical human subject research and community engagement research. While there is no precise timetable yet for the resumption of research on campus, everyone understands the urgency of the situation. I will keep you informed as the taskforces develop guidelines for research resumption.

An important note for essential workers getting to the hospitals via public transport: SEPTA is shifting to a headway-based schedule," which are based on how frequently buses and trolleys operate rather than exact timetables. This makes additional vehicles available quickly when overcrowding begins to occur. If you are an essential employee who currently uses SEPTA, please check SEPTA's COVID-19 microsite frequently for up-to-date information. Service on the Market-Frankford Line, Broad Street Line, Regional Rail and Routes 204, 310/311 and LUCY will continue to operate on their current, "Lifeline Service" schedules.

Antibody tests are very much in the news and seem to be on everybody's mind at the moment. The New York Times reports on the efforts of more than 50 scientists who have been "working diligently to do something that the Food and Drug Administration mostly has not": Verifying that the more than a dozen commercial coronavirus antibody tests now on the market actually deliver accurate results. The results are sobering. The preliminary report of their work (not yet certified by peer review) is available here

And something impressive to look forward to tomorrow: The U.S. Air Force Thunderbirds and the U.S. Navy Blue Angels will salute healthcare providers and essential workers on the front lines of the coronavirus pandemic with flyovers in New Jersey and Philadelphia on Tuesday, April 28. Trenton residents can expect the flyover to begin around 1:45 PM and last 10 minutes. Philadelphia's salute will start at 2 PM and continue for 20 minutes.

Please continue to take care of yourselves and help others whenever you can.

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.