In 2019, we awarded the Future Insight Prize for outstanding research in the field of Pandemic Preparedness to Pardis Sabeti of Harvard University and the Broad Institute and to James Crowe of Vanderbilt University Medical Center.
Like many scientists around the world, they and their teams are currently working to identify diagnostics and treatment options for COVID-19. Both shared with us how the awarded research grants support their work.
“As soon as the first genomes for COVID-19 were published in January, my team began to rapidly design, test, and share new diagnostic assays with the world, thanks to the great support from the Future Insight Prize.
Indeed, one of the greatest challenges in the COVID-19 outbreak was first and foremost, getting rapid diagnostics on the ground where they are most needed, and second, creating new and innovative diagnostics that could transform our means of detection. As such, the Future Insight Prize catalyzed our efforts to rapidly stand up diagnostics in Nigeria, Sierra Leone, and Senegal. From there, we were able to extend support to lab hospitals in the Massachusetts area to build the same capabilities.
Simultaneously, we also developed a novel, CRISPR-based SHERLOCK diagnostic for COVID-19. With the ongoing and critical support from Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany, we are advancing molecular-based point-of-care diagnostic tests and a highly multiplexed 5000x platform CARMEN, for heightened impact across the globe.”
Pardis Sabeti (Harvard University and Broad Institute of Harvard and MIT)
"By January it was clear that the emerging coronavirus was likely to cause problems worldwide, but no one was really prepared to work on treatments for this virus because there were no reagents, no immune human subjects, and importantly no research funding support. Because of the Future Insight Prize support and mission, we were able to launch human antibody discovery efforts immediately at full force. The first U.S. COVID-19 patient landed at Seattle-Tacoma International Airport on January 15. We obtained the first research sample from this index case on January 26, and by February 7 we had obtained our first set of human antibody sequences. We currently are characterizing thousands of human antibodies to downselect for lead therapeutic clones that can be advanced to clinical trials this summer."
James Crowe (Vanderbilt University)