A $22 million post-COVID research project now recruiting in Chicago
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Study participants will fill out a survey about their health, get a brief physical exam, and have some lab tests periodically – every three to 12 months for up to four years. Test results will be shared with the participant and if requested, with their health care providers.
Dr. Jonathan Klein, UIC associate vice chancellor for research and the Savithri and Samuel Raj Professor and executive vice chair of pediatrics, is the study chair and provides overall administrative leadership for the consortium.
“We know that as a public research university we have a twofold responsibility to the people of Illinois – we not only need to bring in high-quality COVID-19 research programs like RECOVER to understand long COVID in our local communities, but we also need to provide the best care possible to people who need medical support after COVID-19 illness,” Klein said.
UI Health, which is UIC’s health system, is the main clinical research site for the study in Chicago. OSF St. Francis Medical Center – an affiliate of the College of Medicine in providing clinical training to medical students, residents and fellows in Peoria – will be one of the main clinical sites for the study when it launches in central Illinois.
Study co-principal investigator Dr. Sarah Stewart de Ramirez, associate professor of emergency medicine and director of equity innovation medicine at the University of Illinois College of Medicine Peoria and medical director of population health at OSF HealthCare, said the study “allows our community of patients, especially those historically underrepresented in research but immensely impacted by COVID, to contribute to the collective understanding of long COVID.”
The researchers are also partnering with community organizations and local health departments to connect area residents with opportunities to participate in the study.
Chris Harris, the pastor of Bright STAR Church, is one community member working with the UIC research team in Chicago to engage the community in the project. Harris’ congregation, located in Chicago’s Bronzeville neighborhood on the south side, has helped hundreds of Chicagoans get vaccinated but he says people in his community still need support.
“I am extremely committed to this very important project and all of the partners,” Harris said. “We have a moral and spiritual responsibility to inform, inspire and involve every person we can when it comes to the virus. Lives are at stake.”
Monica Hendrickson, the administrator of the Peoria City/County Health Department, said the city has been “ground-zero in seeing impacts of COVID-19” in the area but that the study will provide valuable information about the virus and how it will impact the community’s health.
Additional community partners will include Illinois UNIDOS, Envision, Teamwork Englewood, Central Illinois Friends, Friendship House, Chicago Urban League, and Tri-county Peoria Urban League.
The research team also includes co-principal investigators Dr. Wayne Giles, dean of the School of Public Health; Bellur Prabhakar, senior associate dean for research and professor of microbiology and immunology; Dr. Heather Prendergast, Executive MHA ’19, MS in Clinical and Translational Sciences ’14, MPH in Health Policy and Administration ’07 and associate dean for clinical affairs and professor of emergency medicine; and Dr. Terry Vanden Hoek, professor and head of emergency medicine and chief medical officer at UI Health.
Additional co-investigators are Robin Mermelstein, distinguished professor of psychology and director of SPH’s Institute for Health Research and Policy, and Dr. Richard Novak, the Harry F. Dowling Professor of Medicine and head of the division of infectious diseases, who are co-directors of the UIC Center for Clinical and Translational Research, a federally funded center for supporting translational research.
The NIH funding for ILLInet RECOVER is provided by other transactions authority (OT2HL16184701). According to the NIH, other transactions allow for much greater speed, flexibility, and accessibility in performing research and prototyping activities than standard procurement contracts, grants, or cooperative agreements.
The funding builds upon multiple federal grant awards to UIC for COVID-19 research, such as awards to:
- Bolster research and outreach to help communities disproportionately affected by COVID-19.
- Offer free rapid diagnostic testing for COVID-19 in vulnerable Chicago communities and perform genomic sequencing to monitor variants.
- Understand vaccine hesitancy across different communities and the best interventions to improve vaccine confidence and uptake.
- Support multiple COVID-19 clinical trials for drug and antibody treatments, blood clot prevention and vaccines.
How to take part in ILLInet RECOVER long COVID-19 research
How to find medical care for long COVID-19 symptoms
The Post-COVID Clinic at UI Health provides multidisciplinary services and care coordination support for patients who are experiencing long-term effects of COVID-19. Anyone who needs care can contact 866-600-2273 for an appointment with a primary care provider at UI Health.