ETSU and VA collecting blood samples for COVID-19 research

Published 3:25 pm Monday, August 3, 2020

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JOHNSON CITY— East Tennessee State University and the James H. Quillen Veterans Affairs Medical Center at Mountain Home are seeking patients who have recovered from COVID-19 to donate a sample of their blood to be used for current and future coronavirus research.
“We want to recruit as many recovered patients as possible who are willing to donate to our biorepository,” said Dr. Jonathan Moorman, principal investigator and division chief of infectious, inflammatory and immunologic diseases at ETSU Health. “People who give us their blood are giving us an opportunity to see what a successful immune response to this virus looks like. We need to look at these successes to discover how to treat and prevent the disease in others.”
To qualify for the research study, participants must be at least 18 years old, be in recovery for more than six weeks from a positive COVID-19 diagnosis, sign an informed consent form, submit to a blood draw, and answer a few health-related questions. Participants do not need to be a veteran to participate. The typical appointment takes less than 30 minutes, and participants will receive a $25 Walmart gift card. In addition, they will receive the results of a free COVID-19 antibody test.
All of the blood samples will become part of a biorepository, which is a storage bank of cellular material that is frozen and cryopreserved to use at a later time. The biorepository is housed at the VA.
One blood sample can be used for a myriad of current and future research studies. For example, cellular material from the biorepository is currently being used in a study by Dr. Zhi Q. Yao, professor in the ETSU Department of Internal Medicine and director of both the Center of Excellence for HIV/AIDS and the Hepatitis (HCV/HIV) Program, Department of Veterans Affairs.
Yao’s study, which was recently funded by the American Diabetes Association, explores the impact that COVID-19 and diabetes have on each other.
“Dr. Yao’s study is one of the first to utilize the new biorepository, and there will be many more to come,” Moorman said. “Participants who donate are giving a gift that can be vastly multiplied.”
For further details or to set up an appointment to discuss participation in the research study, contact James L. Adkins, clinical research coordinator, at 423-930-8337, ext. 132.

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