A New Normal: Researchers Across Georgia Tech Rally to Fight COVID-19

Tech's research community has engaged deeply in the fight against the coronavirus pandemic with government- and Institute-funded projects.

The Institute’s motto of Progress and Service may have never been engaged as deeply and thoroughly as it has through this pandemic, as COVID-19 research becomes Georgia Tech’s new normal. Researchers at every level are taking part. 

Whether it’s directly contracted through national, state, or local governments, or supported by the Institute itself, the impact is immense. Here are some examples:

  • Georgia Tech is working with the COVID-19 response team at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to conduct analytics on population-level behaviors and vetting emerging technologies and data to ensure that response team leadership has actionable information at their fingertips in real time.
  • For the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, researchers are using CRISPR genomic editing tools to develop therapeutic and prevention technologies that could help address the COVID-19 pandemic.
  • Georgia Tech researchers are working with the CDC’s Immunodiagnostic Development Team in its attempt to develop new antibodies specifically for the novel SARS-CoV-2 virus.
  • Researchers from multiple schools and research units are helping the state of Georgia produce key components for coronavirus test kits to boost the supply and availability of the tests across the state.

Far beyond contracted work, Institute researchers also are pouring efforts into projects where they have identified a need that matches their expertise:

  • Face shields are essential to protecting doctors, nurses, and other healthcare workers from the coronavirus. Georgia Tech has developed a face shield design that was first fabricated in campus laboratories before being transitioned to private industry. By making the design available to the world, fabricators — ranging from a high school class to major companies — are producing the shields for healthcare facilities where they are needed.
  • Severely ill COVID-19 patents may require ventilators to help them breathe. Georgia Tech researchers have developed three different ventilator designs that can be produced from local materials to meet specific healthcare needs.
  • COVID-19 tests can produce false negative results, requiring doctors to repeat tests to be confident about the results. For an Atlanta hospital, Georgia Tech created a software algorithm to help doctors decide when patients should be retested, potentially reducing unnecessary testing and conserving scarce resources.
  • The effects of a pandemic can be unexpected. Georgia Tech researchers are modeling the activity of the virus that causes COVID-19 to help policymakers and others anticipate actions they may need to take.
  • Contact tracing to identify people who may be infected is a time-tested technique to control pandemics. However, the scope of the COVID-19 pandemic and the speed of its spread has outstripped available techniques. Georgia Tech is working on smartphone software that would help automate notification of people who may have been exposed.
  • Georgia Tech filtration experts have provided their expertise to help individuals and organizations make their own face masks using available materials to slow the spread of COVID-19. Their work includes do-it-yourself testing to determine which types of fabric are most suitable for the masks.

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