A letter from our Chief Academic Officer

In the context of the evolving coronavirus pandemic, all of us at Beth Israel Lahey Health understand that serving our patients and communities is an honor and a privilege.  Our dedicated clinicians and staff are delivering extraordinary patient care across Eastern Massachusetts. 

We are equally committed to innovation and problem-solving that will help address emerging challenges in the global fight against COVID-19 and have established the Beth Israel Lahey Health COVID-19 Innovation Hub.  Together, we are mobilizing resources and brainpower from across our system and identifying opportunities to partner with external organizations in developing innovative solutions to emerging needs.  

We encourage you to contact us to learn more about what we’re doing and to explore opportunities for collaboration by emailing us at: [email protected].  If you’re interested in donating supplies or otherwise supporting our work, please click here

Gyongyi Szabo, MD, PhD
Chief Academic Officer, Beth Israel Lahey Health

COVID-19 Clinical Research

We are using our world-class research capacity in pursuit of tangible solutions to address shortages and obstacles we face as a result of the global pandemic. If you are interested in supporting our research, please click here. Your support is critical in supporting these efforts:

  • The research community at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center has mobilized to launch several clinical trials to test the safety and efficacy of a number of potential treatment options for COVID-19.   A committee is now evaluating mechanisms through which all hospitals in the BILH system could jointly participate in future COVID-19 trials. 
  • Dan Barouch, MD, PhD, Director of BIDMC’s Center for Virology and Vaccine Research, and his team have developed a leading COVID-19 vaccine candidate that uses a common-cold virus to deliver a small bit of viral DNA into host cells, where it stimulates the immune system to recognize and develop protection against SARS-CoV2. Dr. Barouch’s lab is already testing multiple versions of the coronavirus vaccine in animal models. The federal government and Johnson & Johnson recently announced that they will invest more than $1 billion to produce and test the candidate vaccine Dr. Barouch helped to develop.
  • We are exploring how to create a biorepository and clinical database that collects prospective information and biological samples from patients with COVID-19. Such biorepository will be a tremendous resource to learn about the clinical course and outcomes of COVID-19 infection and enable future studies on virus-host interactions and development of therapies and vaccines. 

Personal Protective Equipment

One of the greatest challenges on the frontlines of the fight against COVID-19 is the national shortage of critical personal protective equipment, or PPE. A key priority of the Innovation Hub is to identify alternative methods of manufacturing PPE, new uses for existing available products to protect staff, and methods to sterilize used equipment.  

  • We are working with a number of manufacturers to develop plastic face shields, which protect frontline staff from spray and extend the life of N95 respirators worn underneath.  
  • Other efforts focus on 3D-printed masks. In collaboration with several Boston institutions and 3D printing companies, we provide evaluation of new mask prototypes.
  • A team at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, in collaboration with New England Baptist Hospital, tested various methods to sterilize N95 respirators.  After thorough evaluation, we determined that vaporized hydrogen peroxide (VHP) sterilization is the most optimal method.  This method is now being implemented for a system-wide solution to sterilization of N95 respirators, a critical mask product facing extreme national shortages. This method would protect our workforce and enable use of these masks, elongating the life of each.

COVID-19 Diagnostics

When the virus first emerged, one of the great barriers facing hospitals in Massachusetts was the limited availability of testing. Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center was the first hospital in Massachusetts to launch onsite testing and is now testing samples from across the BILH system. 

  • James Kirby, PhD, Medical Director of Microbiology at BIDMC, quickly developed a Q-PCR assay with a local company that is now being used on site at BIDMC for clinical diagnosis of COVID-19. 
  • A multidisciplinary team of experts led by Ramy Arnaout, MD, DPhil, Associate Director of the Clinical Microbiology Laboratories at BIDMC, collaborated to develop 3D printable swabs for COVID-19 testing. These efforts are helping alleviate shortages of specialized nasopharyngeal swabs needed for patient testing.  Learn more

Ventilators  

Ventilators are and will continue to be critical in treating patients in severe respiratory distress.  

  • BIDMC clinicians and researchers are providing expertise in refining designs for an inexpensive, simplified ventilators in collaboration with companies.

We encourage you to contact us to learn more about what we’re doing and to explore opportunities for collaboration by emailing us at: [email protected].