COVID-19 clinical testing expanded thanks to collaboration of the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub, CZI and UCSF

by Contributed Content on March 23, 2020

Supported by an executive order from California Governor Gavin Newsom, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI), the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub (CZ Biohub), and UC San Francisco (UCSF) are helping frontline healthcare facilities and local authorities better fight the COVID-19 pandemic, using their capabilities to increase the volume of local clinical testing. UCSF’s goal is to achieve at least 1,000 tests per day within the coming days.

The newly-formed partnership will support testing capacity at UCSF, Zuckerberg San Francisco General Hospital, and regional Department of Public Health partners. This new testing capability will be directed first to UCSF’s sickest patients — in-patients — followed by symptomatic out-patients that have largely yet to be tested. As additional capacity comes online, this capability will be used to further assist health departments and community testing.

“At the CZ Biohub, we are sprinting to assist UCSF to significantly and rapidly expand their clinical laboratory testing for COVID-19,” said Biohub co-president, Joe DeRisi (pictured above). “This is not just with purchases of equipment, but with operational support, informatics, and protocol development, all within an expanded UCSF CLIA lab facility, adjacent to the CZ Biohub.” DeRisi is also a professor of biochemistry and biophysics at UCSF. His early work in his lab contributed to the identification of the SARS coronavirus in 2003.

The Governor’s executive order allows the CZ Biohub to support the expansion of the UCSF CLIA laboratory in order to provide significantly more testing capacity. Over 100 UCSF volunteers have registered to ramp up their personnel team to keep up with the demand. While the goal is to get to well over 1,000 samples per day, throughput is dependent upon other factors, such as registering samples.

“UCSF’s partnership with CZ Biohub, in place since the Biohub’s inception, has never been more important than at this crucial juncture in the COVID-19 pandemic,” said UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood. “The executive order will enable us to make valuable headway in addressing the needs of patients in the coming months.”

“Dramatically expanded testing capacity — as well as rapid deployment of testing to all those who need it — is essential to stemming the spread of COVID-19,” said CZI co-founder and co-CEO Dr. Priscilla Chan. “We’re thankful for Governor Newsom’s leadership through this crisis and encouraged to see this partnership come together so quickly.”

The CZ Biohub is also helping to facilitate connections between UCSF and other Bay Area hospitals that need more COVID-19 tests with Stanford Medicine. Stanford, which developed and launched an in-house test earlier this month, hopes to increase capacity to more than 1,000 tests per day within the coming days.

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