An Unprecedented Study

Sign outside of UNC Gillings.

Carolina is continuing to have a profound role in COVID-19 research in more ways than one.

A few weeks ago, researchers at both Carolina and Vanderbilt University Medical Center were awarded $500,000 by Google’s philanthropy, Google.org, to study how COVID-19 alters gene expression in some people in ways that may be linked to their risk of severe illness and death. This study will specifically focus on the Cameron County Hispanic Cohort, located in an area along the Texas-Mexico border with one of the highest rates of COVID-19 in the United States.

“This study is absolutely unprecedented,” said Kari North, PhD, professor of epidemiology in the UNC Gillings School of Global Public Health and the project’s principal investigator. “The identification of changes in gene expression associated with COVID-19 infection and severity will contribute to global knowledge on the biology of SARS-CoV-2.”

This funding is part of Google.org’s commitment to supporting COVID-19 relief efforts on behalf of vulnerable populations.

“This is an extremely important public health issue,” said North. “We need to work hard to make sure that the populations most burdened by disease are not overlooked by genomic studies.”

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