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Urgent Public Health Needs

The CTSA Program’s unique network of leading research centers helps the program respond quickly to urgent public health needs. The network works to swiftly increase scientific knowledge and turn it into health solutions for problems ranging from the opioid epidemic to infectious diseases, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. Read about success stories in addressing urgent public health needs.

November 2023

COVID-19 Didn’t Drive Worse Outcomes for Babies in Neonatal Intensive Care Units

Babies admitted to neonatal intensive care units (NICUs) during the first 21 months of the COVID-19 pandemic were unlikely to be diagnosed with COVID-19. Moreover, those who were COVID positive did not experience higher rates of harmful effects and mortality than those without COVID-19. This is according to CTSA Program–supported researchers who studied data from more than 150,000 infants discharged from NICUs between January 2020 and September 2021.

September 2023

Metformin Shows Promise in Treating COVID-19 and Preventing Long-COVID    
With support from CTSA Program institutions, NCATS is exploring metformin as a treatment for COVID-19 — from early observational studies all the way to large-scale clinical trials. Now, the ACTIV-6 clinical trial is testing the drug as an outpatient treatment for people with mild-to-moderate COVID-19 to bring clarity to its value in treating COVID-19 and potentially preventing long COVID.

March 2023

Rural Hospital Closures Put a Strain on Nearby Hospitals, Potentially Jeopardizing Access to Health Care in Rural Communities    
CTSA Program–supported research reveals that rural hospital closures nationwide strain the ability of surrounding hospitals to care for the increase in patients. This ripple effect jeopardizes rural communities’ access to health care.

February 2023

Research Reveals Nationwide Spread of Potentially Life-Threatening Fungal Infections    
CTSA Program–supported research found that three fungal infections spread outside their usual regions and now appear in at least half of the United States. These findings could speed recognition and treatment outside typical areas of infection.

New Study Finds Paxlovid Remains an Effective Treatment for COVID-19 Patients Infected With Omicron Variants    
CTSA Program–supported research strongly suggests Paxlovid use can prevent hospitalization and death of patients who have recently been infected with Omicron SARS-CoV-2 variants. This study is of particular importance as clinicians struggle to maintain effective care options for high-risk COVID-19 patients.

September 2022

Previous Common Colds Could Boost Risks of More Severe COVID-19    
Having a common cold caused by seasonal coronaviruses may cause immune distraction, making some people’s immune systems respond less effectively to SARS-CoV-2 infection and increase their risk of more severe COVID-19.

N3C Data Reveal More Severe COVID-19 Outcomes in Rural Communities    
After examining patient health records from the National COVID Cohort Collaborative, researchers found that people with COVID-19 who live in rural areas are more likely to be hospitalized than those who live in urban areas.

June 2022

Study Finds Immune Dysfunction Is a Significant Risk Factor for COVID-19 Breakthrough Infection    
The National COVID Cohort Collaborative Data Enclave helps researchers identify a link between COVID-19 breakthrough infections and people with abnormal or impaired immune systems.

May 2022

Scientists Identify Characteristics to Better Define Long COVID    
NIH-supported researchers analyzed an unprecedented collection of electronic health records in NCATS’ National COVID Cohort Collaborative Data Enclave to better identify common features of long COVID. 

Researchers Use Cutting-Edge EHR Data Resource to Find Risk Factors for Severe COVID-19 in Children    
Researchers used data from NCATS’ National COVID Cohort Collaborative Data Enclave to discover why some children with COVID-19 developed a dangerous condition called multisystem inflammatory syndrome in children, also known as MIS-C.

January 2022

International Registry Reveals Risks COVID-19 Poses with Sickle Cell Disease    
NCATS-funded CTSA Program researchers developed a collaborative registry that collects data on COVID-19 illness in people with sickle cell disease.

April 2021

Large Clinical Trial to Study Repurposed Drugs to Treat COVID-19 Symptoms    
The trial will test several existing drugs to see if they can provide safe, effective symptom relief and prevent hospitalization in people with mild to moderate COVID‑19. Two CTSA Program hubs served as coordinating centers and partner with the Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute to expedite enrollment.

October 2020

NIH Begins Large Clinical Trial to Test Immune Modulators for Treatment of COVID-19    
The CTSA Program played a key role in rapidly implementing a clinical trial to evaluate the safety and efficacy of immune modulator drugs in hospitalized adults with COVID-19. 

September 2020

NIH Expands Clinical Trials to Test Convalescent Plasma Against COVID-19    
Two randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials funded by NIH are expanding enrollment to further evaluate convalescent plasma as a treatment for people hospitalized with COVID-19. The CTSA Program research network, including its Trial Innovation Network, played a key role in rapidly expanding enrollment in the trials.

June 2020

NIH Launches Analytics Platform to Harness Nationwide COVID-19 Patient Data to Speed Treatments    
NIH launched a centralized, secure enclave to store and study vast amounts of medical record data from people diagnosed with coronavirus disease across the country. It is part of an effort, called the National COVID Cohort Collaborative, to help scientists analyze these data to understand the disease and develop treatments.

March 2019

Opioids Increase the Risk of Pneumonia    
Research, supported in part by the CTSA Program, suggests that opioids can increase a person’s risk for pneumonia that is severe enough to warrant hospitalization.