As the COVID-19 pandemic spread around the world, UCLA experts leaped into action. So did its donors.
The Shurl and Kay Curci Foundation, one of many generous partners, gave $1 million to the UCLA COVID-19 Rapid Response Initiative, led by Dr. Anne Rimoin of UCLA Fielding School of Public Health and Dr. Grace Aldrovandi of David Geffen School of Medicine at UCLA. The funds will expand regular testing for frontline health workers to protect them and their colleagues and family members while generating valuable research evidence about the novel coronavirus.
“I am deeply grateful to the Shurl and Kay Curci Foundation for their advocacy and outstanding support of this work,” Rimoin says. “We are at a critical point in this study. This gift will allow us to sustain our current momentum and propel us toward our goal of scaling up to serve thousands of health care heroes in Los Angeles.”
The initiative aims to support health care workers and first responders at UCLA Health and Los Angeles County Fire Department. UCLA researchers are testing participants for active infection and screening them for antibodies and immune response — all important indicators that will help with rapid diagnosis, effective isolation measures, and informed infection control. The initiative also includes mental health support for stress, anxiety, and stigma associated with COVID-19 work.
In addition to caring for frontline workers and improving protection for their loved ones, the initiative’s findings on antibodies and immunity will enhance efforts to develop vaccines and therapeutics and can help shape broader recommendations on returning to work, reopening economies, and maintaining community health.
“We need our hospital workers and first responders to feel safe as they work to get all the rest of us through this ongoing COVID-19 pandemic,” says Jim Mitchell of the Shurl and Kay Curci Foundation. “The work that UCLA is doing will also yield basic data on rates of infection among those critical workers and will help us to understand the level and longevity of immunity in those who have recovered from it. We are very pleased to be able to support such important work.”
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Published October 2020