The DELTA Translational Recharge Center, a collaboration between the UNC Adams School of Dentistry and the UNC School of Medicine, received more than $500,000 of funding through the N.C. Policy Collaboratory.
In February, at the onset of COVID-19 in North Carolina, the DELTA Translational Recharge Center’s co-directors – Associate Dean for Discovery and Innovation at the Adams School of Dentistry, Shannon Wallet, PhD, and Associate Professor at the NC Jaycee Burn Center in the School of Medicine Department of Surgery, Robert Maile, PhD – partnered with Associate Professor in the School of Medicine, Department of Microbiology and Immunology and the Marsico Lung Institute, Matthew Wolfgang, PhD.
Together, they developed a Centers for Disease Control-compliant laboratory to process, store and distribute COVID-19 samples in support of research labs across the University, known as the “COVID-19 Translational Initiative.”
“It became pretty clear to us that a need existed to centralize sample collection, processing, tracking, storage, and analysis to allow investigators to focus on their research and development of COVID-19 therapeutics,” said Maile.
“It was only natural to respond by leveraging our existing resources to fill this need. I am beyond thrilled to see that our facilitation and support have allowed these investigators to do just that and bring much needed answers to the community.”
Through the COVID-19 Translational Initiative, the DELTA Translational Recharge Center has facilitated collaboration between at least 10 multidisciplinary COVID-19 studies led by investigators in the Adams School of Dentistry, School of Medicine, Gillings School of Global Public Health, and the Eshelman School of Pharmacy.
These research programs span the spectrum of COVID-19 research interests including innate immunology, viral detection, lung pathophysiology, and hematology.
The DELTA Translational Recharge Center currently supports the following activities at the above institutions to perform COVID-specific research:
- Participant enrollment and clinical specimen collection at the clinical research unit space in the Adams School of Dentistry
- Specimen processing, tracking and storage for COVID-19 research studies
- Environmental Health and Safety standard operating procedures for processing of blood, saliva, lung fluids, nasal fluid, urine, and stool
- Analysis of inactivated samples for immunological, proteomic and metabolomic outcomes
- Biobanking of excess COVID-19 research and clinical specimens
This DELTA Translational Recharge Center continues to grow with the needs of the COVID-19 pandemic, including studies on back-to-work initiatives at the University, co-habitation studies in North Carolina communities, studies on pediatric patients with COVID-19 and more. In the near future, it will support large-scale university and federal research/clinical needs.
“Since the early days of the pandemic, I have been inspired by the rapid response and enthusiasm of many UNC-Chapel Hill researchers and clinicians with vastly different interests and specialties to mobilize, collaborate and advance our understanding of this novel disease at a phenomenal pace,” said Wolfgang.
While the DELTA Translation Recharge Center is currently facilitating collaboration across the various COVID-related research studies across the University, it will continue to help create many interdisciplinary relationships long after the pandemic has passed.