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Pharmacology faculty, Bryan Roth and Blossom Damania, are working together with other School of Medicine researchers across disciplines, to combat the COVID-19 virus.

This is a picture of pharmacology faculty members, Bryan Roth and Blossom Damania.
Pharmacology faculty members, Bryan Roth and Blossom Damania, are conducting research to better understand COVID-19 to help develop new therapeutics to impact the COVID-19 pandemic.

The coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic, caused by the SARS-CoV-2 virus, has swept through the entire world, causing thousands of deaths and life-altering changes in our communities. Within the UNC School of Medicine research community of 28 basic science and clinical departments and more than 50 centers, institutes, programs, and initiatives, many researchers are working tirelessly to provide knowledge that can impact the current COVID-19 pandemic and future pandemics.

“UNC SOM is home to many world-renowned experts on infectious disease and virology,” said Blossom Damania, Boshamer Distinguished Professor and Vice Dean for Research at the UNC School of Medicine. “We are very appreciative of their collective ongoing clinical efforts and discovery research studies focused on understanding the biology, transmission, and treatment of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19. We are extremely grateful to the many clinicians that are working with patients on the frontline of this epidemic.”

Bryan Roth is the Michael Hooker Distinguished Professor in the Department of Pharmacology, has an appointment at Eshelman, and is the project director of the NIMH Psychoactive Drug Screening Program. Roth and his team are profiling candidate drugs to determine mechanism(s) of action that may contribute to therapeutic activity for COVID-19, and are also beginning screens of approved medications to determine if they might inhibit viral interactions with host receptors. The goal of his efforts is to discover medications that are already approved for human-use as potential therapeutics for COVID-19.

Dirk Dittmeris a professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology, director of the UNC Viral Genomics Core, and director of the Virology and Global Oncology Programs at Lineberger. Dittmer and the Viral Genomics Core are setting up high-throughput, high-sensitivity COVID-19 viral load assays to augment hospital operations and to support clinical trials and pre-clinical studies. In addition, they are implementing next generation sequencing assays to characterize COVID-19 strains and other infectious agents in clinical research studies. Members of the laboratory of Blossom Damania, Professor of Microbiology and Immunology, are also involved in these efforts. Dittmer is also working with Melissa Miller, William Fischer, Subhashini Sellers, Ralph Baric and other faculty in the School of Medicine and Gillings School of Public Health.

To learn more about other COVID-19 research efforts at UNC SOM, read the full article in SOM News, compiled and written by Trisha Dant and Mark Derewicz. The above paragraphs are extracted from that article.