COVID-19 Research

Through 2021, the COVID-19 pandemic has continued to both impact and shape our research efforts. The impact can be measured both in challenges to research productivity, as illustrated by restrictions on accessing basic research laboratories and on clinical research teams gathering together to enroll and follow subjects, and during these period of relative downtime also in the opportunities to develop new hypotheses, write more grants, and secure even more NIH funding within the UAB Department of Pediatrics. And the shape of the department’s research portfolio has expanded to include substantial investigation into SARS-CoV-2 pathogenesis and management. This includes the following:

  1. An NIH U01is held by Drs. Suresh Boppana, William Britt, and Swetha Pinninti assessing the immunologic response to SARS-CoV-2 and its impact on viral clearance or persistence;
  2. NIH U19 and Gates Foundation funding are held by Dr. Richard Whitley seeking discovery of additional antiviral drugs for the treatment of COVID-19;
  3. Dr. Erica Bjornstad is collaborating with colleagues at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center on a national registry of pediatric acute kidney injury secondary to SARS-CoV-2 infection;
  4. Dr. Randy Cron is interrogating the genomics of the cytokine storm induced by the virus;
  5. Dr. Camden Hebson is collaborating with colleagues at the University of Utah on a study of acute myocarditis following receipt of COVID-19 vaccine in children and adolescents;
  6. Dr. Kathy Monroe is collaborating with colleagues at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center to assess pediatric injuries throughout the COVID-19 pandemic;
  7. Dr. Claudette Poole is exploring the connection between SARS-CoV-2 infection and the onset of diabetes mellitus;
  8. Dr. Hope Wilson has funding from the All Children’s Research Institute to conduct the COVAC-TP (COVID-19 Anticoagulation in Children-Thromboprophylaxis) trial;
  9. Dr. David Kimberlin has led UAB’s involvement in a national study of the dosing and safety of the antiviral drug remdesivir in the treatment of children and adolescents with COVID-19;
  10. Dr. Myriam Peralta has NIH funding to explore the post acute sequelae of COVID-19 (PASC, or “long COVID”);
  11. Drs. Suresh Boppana and Swetha Pinninti are leading UAB’s involvement in the large pediatric studies conducted by Moderna and Pfizer-BioNTech of their mRNA vaccines;
  12. And Dr. Richard Whitley is the chair of the NIAID Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) Vaccine Data and Safety Monitoring Board, which is the single independent oversight group overseeing COVID-19 vaccine studies funded by the federal government.

While the trajectory of the pandemic is yet to be determined, the work of these UAB Department of Pediatrics investigators has been critical to working toward as quick a resolution as possible. They and their colleagues will continue to fight on the front lines of the generation of new understandings of and insights into the cause of the worst pandemic the world has experienced in over 100 years.