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LSU Health Shreveport Receives $730,000 in NIH Funding for Sequencing of COVID-19

Courtesy: LSU Health-Shreveport

(From LSU-Health Shreveport office of Public Affairs, Communications and Development 
June 8, 2021)

LSU Health Shreveport Receives $730,000 in NIH Funding for Sequencing of COVID-19 June 8, 2021 – LSU Health Shreveport has received a notice of grant award from the National Institutes of Health (NIH) for a $730,000 supplemental grant to enhance SARS-CoV-2 Viral Genomic Sequencing Surveillance in North Louisiana. Dr. Chris Kevil, Vice Chancellor of Research and Professor in the Department of Pathology at LSU Health Shreveport, was awarded this supplemental funding to his existing $10 M Center of Biomedical Research Excellence (CoBRE) grant.

This award represents strong collaboration between two LSU Health Shreveport (LSUHS) NIH Centers of Biomedical Research Excellence (CoBRE). These CoBRE’s are the Center for Redox Biology and Cardiovascular Disease (CRBCD) and the Center for Applied Immunology and Pathological Processes (CAIPP) which leveraged established institutional programs including the Center for Emerging Viral Threats (CEVT) to secure additional funding for genome sequencing of SARS-Co0V-2. Over 100 individuals comprise the CEVT, CRBCD, CAIPP and the community testing and vaccination efforts.

The SARS-CoV-2 pandemic has had a devastating impact on the health and wellbeing of the U.S. and world along with significant social and economic harm to many individuals with disproportionate circumstances. This critical funding will increase viral genomic sequencing by LSU Health Shreveport, which in turn expedites the identification SARS-CoV-2 variants. Identifying the biological characteristics of these variants, as soon as possible, is imperative to protecting vulnerable populations and in the creation an optimal public health outcome.

LSUHS has already identified seven newly emergent Spike (S):Q677P and S: Q677H SARS-Co-V-2 lineages in the US as well as the first two cases in Louisiana of B.1.617.2 which originated in India. Prior to this grant award, sequencing data generated by the LSUHS Center of Emerging Viral Threats was performed in the absence of any funding from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC)/National Institutes of Health (NIH) or Health and Human Services (HHS). “Genomic surveillance has always been a part of our mission for the Center for Emerging Viral Threats (CEVT) at LSU Health Shreveport, and our goal with this new funding is to further enhance our genomic surveillance of the SARS-CoV-2 virus in Louisiana, East Texas, and Southern Arkansas. It is incumbent upon academic medical centers to advance research regarding this virus,” stated Dr. Chris Kevil, Vice Chancellor for Research at LSU Health Shreveport.

LSU Health Shreveport began a highly productive viral genome sequencing program early in the COVID-19 pandemic and has worked closely with the Louisiana Department of Health to provide data that influences positive public health outcomes, particularly in North and Central Louisiana. Media outlets around the state, nation and globe have quoted Dr. Jeremy Kamil, Associate Professor of Microbiology, in articles and publications on sequencing of SARS-CoV-2 based on his leading experience and knowledge. As of June 4, work by Drs. Jeremy Kamil and Rona Scott along with COBRE principal investigators Drs. Andrew Yurochko and Chris Kevil have produced and shared 2,839 full coverage SARS-CoV-2 genomes, which amounts to over 60% of the SARSCoV-2 genome surveillance from Louisiana, and 1.2 % of the total US data submitted to GISAID which is the Global Initiative on Sharing All Influenza Data.

Chuck Smith brings more than 30 years' broadcast and media experience to Red River Radio. He began his career as a radio news reporter and transitioned to television journalism and newsmagazine production. Chuck studied mass communications at Southern Arkansas University in Magnolia and motion picture / television production at the University of California at Los Angeles. He has also taught writing for television at York Technical College in Rock Hill, South Carolina and video / film production at Centenary College of Louisiana, Shreveport.