Quillen College of Medicine alumni on the front lines of COVID-19 research
JOHNSON CITY (May 26, 2020) – Alumni of East Tennessee State University’s Quillen College of Medicine are on the front lines of research and studies happening across the world to develop treatments for the COVID-19 virus.
Dr. Davey Smith (’96) is leading a clinical trial that is currently underway to evaluate whether the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, given with the antibiotic azithromycin, can prevent hospitalization and death from COVID-19.
The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health, is sponsoring the trial, which is being conducted by the NIAID-funded AIDS Clinical Trials Group (ACTG). Teva Pharmaceuticals is donating medications for the study.
Smith currently serves at the University of California San Diego as the head of the Division of Infectious Diseases and Global Public Health, professor and vice chair of faculty in the Department of Medicine, and co-director of the San Diego Center for AIDS Research.
“It will take science to get us through this pandemic,” Smith said. “This includes the testing of potential therapies in a rigorous way, like hydroxychloroquine and azithromycin.”
To learn more about Smith’s study, visit www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/nih-begins-clinical-trial-hydroxychloroquine-azithromycin-treat-covid-19.
Before coming to Quillen as a medical student in 2016, Dr. Erica Andres (’20) worked as a post-baccalaureate scientist at Vanderbilt University for two years, where she led a collaboration with Gilead in performing experiments to develop remdesivir as an antiviral against coronaviruses.
She worked in the lab of Dr. Mark R. Denison, professor of pediatrics, pathology, microbiology and immunology, and director of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
“Dr. Anthony Fauci of the NIH recently announced preliminary conclusions that remdesivir is an active and likely very useful antiviral against COVID-19,” Denison said. “Erica initiated the very first studies of remdesivir in cell culture and established ways to test it against SARS-CoV in the BSL3 lab. Her very careful and precise experiments were critical to it moving forward to testing in humans. Based on her work she is a co-first author on the article reporting how remdesivir works against coronaviruses. It was amazing work that truly has impacted the entire world,” Denison said.
To access her paper, visit https://mbio.asm.org/content/mbio/9/2/e00221-18.full.pdf.
Andres graduated from Quillen College of Medicine earlier this month and was awarded The Glasgow-Rubin Achievement Award and the Internal Medicine Award for demonstrating strong clinical skills, an inquisitive mind, a compassionate character and a desire to practice internal medicine. This summer, she will begin her residency in internal medicine at the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania.
To learn more about Quillen College of Medicine, visit www.etsu.edu/com/.