Norma J. Nowak, PhD

John E. Tomaszewski, MD

Researchers’ Initiative Helps Speed Up COVID-19 Testing

Published April 7, 2020

Thanks to the fast action of two Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences faculty members, Kaleida Health Laboratories has two more crucial tools to help it fight the COVID-19 crisis in Erie County.

“This will be huge. When fully implemented, it will allow us to triple our testing capacity. This is the university responding to a health care crisis as a true partner. ”
SUNY Distinguished Professor and the Peter A. Nickerson, PhD, Professor and Chair of pathology and anatomical sciences
Print

Nowak, Tomaszewski Identify Key Equipment

Norma J. Nowak, PhD, professor of biochemistry, and John E. Tomaszewski, MD, SUNY Distinguished Professor and the Peter A. Nickerson, PhD, Professor and Chair of pathology and anatomical sciences, identified two pieces of equipment in the UB Biorepository at the Clinical and Translational Research Center that they felt could be deployed to Kaleida Health Laboratories on Flint Road in Amherst to assist with the processing of COVID-19 test kits. 

The equipment was not in active use due to the current pause in research at UB.

In late March, manufacturer PerkinElmer released an Emergency Use Authorization for its nucleic acid extraction equipment, which would allow the health system to supplement the Kaleida Health COVID-19 testing. The biorepository had two of those machines on hand.

Proposal Quickly Put Into Action

Tomaszewski and Nowak made a proposal to Venu Govindaraju, PhD, UB’s vice president for research and economic development, to allow the transfer of the machines to the Kaleida lab.

After review by counsel from SUNY and Kaleida, the agreement was signed in late March and the equipment was moved the next day.

Govindaraju says his office “fully supports this transfer. This is an excellent opportunity for UB to demonstrate its agility and community orientation during times of crisis.” 

“This will be huge,” says Tomaszewski, who is also chief of service at Kaleida Health Laboratories. “When fully implemented, it will allow us to triple our testing capacity. This is the university responding to a health care crisis as a true partner.”

Tomaszewski and Nowak, executive director of UB’s New York State Center of Excellence in Bioinformatics and Life Sciences, are faculty leaders of the UB Biorepository.