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COVID-19 Testing and Research

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COVID-19 lab testing and research at Virginia Tech

Between April and August, 2020, the Virginia Tech COVID-19 lab, located at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute, processed more than 10,000 samples to support health districts in Southwest Virginia. The newly expanded laboratory has the capacity to process 5,000 tests per week.

The Virginia Tech COVID-19 Lab launched on April 20 under a U.S. Food and Drug Administration-issued Emergency Use Authorization to help expand public health lab testing capacity in Southwest Virginia — a critical step to monitor the spread of the virus in Virginia and slow the pandemic.

This specialized infectious disease lab is becoming a destination for interdisciplinary research and education to help scientists study the SARS-CoV-2 virus and its long-term effects in the heart, brain, lungs, and other tissues. The lab enables researchers at Virginia Tech to strengthen the research operations and training required to understand infectious diseases, including COVID-19 and other viruses. The new lab also offers our faculty the opportunity to train the next generation of leading biomedical scientists with a focus in virology and infectious disease to help prevent, and address potential disease outbreaks of the future. 

Numerous faculty members at the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute have submitted proposals to study the SARS-CoV-2 virus on a molecular level. Our researchers are studying: 

  • The molecular mechanisms underlying COVID-19 disease progression and pathogenesis, including gene expression, proteomics, and pathology
  • Pulmonary fibrosis and inflammation associated with COVID-19 infections
  • Neurological diseases associated with SARS-CoV-2 infection
  • COVID-19 vaccine development
  • Antibody mimicking molecule development
  • How COVID-19 impacts cell function and signaling amongst cardiomyocytes (heart muscle cells)

Donor Highlight

Eddie and Susan Amos support the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute. When the pandemic began to spread, they stepped up.

Eddie and Susan Amos
Eddie and Susan Amos

"Nothing has shaken the confidence of the world more than the scenario playing out with the  COVID-19 Pandemic.  Organizations across the globe are adopting to the "new" normal for everyday activities. Businesses must now rely on remote workers, students meet using virtual classrooms, researchers collaborate on possible cures leveraging teleconferencing software, and many areas are starting to embrace the use of telehealth as an alternative to traditional healthcare.  Alec Levenson (2020) of the MIT Sloan Journal reports that the U.S. is in the middle of a historic rupture to the economy. The COVID-19 Pandemic has created economic and financial uncertainty that will likely last for years. The New England Journal of Medicine reports the COVID-19 outbreak is a stark reminder of the ongoing challenge of emerging infectious pathogens and the need for constant surveillance, prompt diagnosis, and robust research to understand the basic biology of new organisms (Fauci, Lane, & Redfield, 2020).  It’s this reality that inspires our family to contribute to the programs sponsored by Dr. Michael Friedlander and the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at the VTC.  Mike and his team have risen to the occasion to keep the community safe by leading the efforts to promote testing and research.  Susan and I would like to thank Mike and everyone at Carilion and the Fralin Biomedical Research Institute at the VTC for going the extra mile in helping us find a cure and keeping the community safe." 

- Eddie Amos