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Indian-American to head Emory University’s COVID-19 clinical trial

Photo courtesy: Jill Wu’s Twitter page.

NRI Pulse Staff Report

Atlanta, GA, March 15, 2020: An Indian-American professor at Emory is to head the university’s COVID-19 clinical trial.

Aneesh Mehta, MD, is the site principal investigator for the National Institute of Health (NIH) sponsored COVID-19 clinical trial, said a press statement issued by the university.

Emory University will take part in an NIH sponsored global clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of novel therapeutic agents in hospitalized adult patients diagnosed with COVID-19.

The drug remdesivir is the first agent to be evaluated.

The Emory Vaccine Treatment and Evaluation Unit (VTEU) was activated 3/11/2020 by The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), meaning it can begin enrollment as part of this phase three therapeutic clinical trial.

Emory is one of eight VTEUs around the country and up to thirty-two sites being activated for the trial. The study will be conducted in up to 75 sites globally. Dr Aneesh Mehta, an investigator in both the national VTEU network and National Ebola Training and Education Center (NETEC), serves at the Emory principal investigator for this study. The Emory VTEU is led by Drs. Nadine Rouphael, Evan Anderson and Carlos Del Rio.

“This important study will allow our patients to access the highest-level clinical care, driven by the best data from around the world, while contributing to the science of caring for patients with COVID-19,” says Dr. Mehta.

Dr Mehta is Affiliate Faculty at Emory Vaccine Center and as Associate Professor in the Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, Emory University School of Medicine. He is also Assistant Director, Transplant Infectious Diseases.

COVID-19 starts as an upper respiratory tract infection, often indistinguishable from other more common respiratory tract infections. First detected in Wuhan, China, the novel coronavirus has spread rapidly around the globe. Worldwide, the number of COVID-19 cases has topped 100,000, while in the United States the total has grown to more than 1,000.

Emory is playing a key role in the effort to expedite clinical trials to combat COVID-19. VTEUs have performed high-quality clinical research for more than half a century to test new vaccines and therapies for infectious diseases in clinical trials of adults and children. The Emory VTEU includes the Hope Clinic of the Emory Vaccine Center and the Emory Children’s Center Vaccine Research Clinic, both renowned in clinical and translational research in infectious diseases vaccines, treatment and prevention.

The VTEUs are a component of the Infectious Diseases Clinical Research Consortium (IDCRC). The IDCRC principal investigators are David S. Stephens, MD, professor and chair of the Department of Medicine in Emory University School of Medicine and vice president for research of Emory’s Woodruff Health Sciences Center, and Kathy Neuzil, MD, Myron M. Levine MD Professor in Vaccinology and director, Center for Vaccine Development, University of Maryland Baltimore.

“This COVID-19 outbreak is expanding rapidly,” says Stephens. “Thanks to the foresight of the NIAID we have a critical infrastructure in place to move quickly as well, harnessing some of the brightest minds in the academic medical community to fight COVID-19.”


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