Research continues at VUMC into the causes, treatment and prevention of COVID-19.  See below to learn more about basic/translational, clinical/interventional and population health research now in progress.  

Are you conducting COVID-19 research at Vanderbilt? Please use this brief survey to tell us about your ongoing basic, clinical and/or population sciences research efforts related to SARS-COV-2 and COVID-19:

Research Highlights

December 1, 2020: James Crowe, Jr receives 2020 "Golden Goose" Award for COVID-19 Research

November 9, 2020: JAMA publication shows hydroxychloroquine does not help patients hospitalized with COVID-19

October 26, 2020: COVID treatment studied by VUMC gains FDA approval

September 2, 2020: VUMC joins national network to conduct ACTIV-2 clinical trial of outpatient treatments for COVID-19

August 21, 2020: VUMC awarded $34 million to lead nationwide convalescent plasma study

June 17, 2020: Initial COVID-19 testing data show impact in Nashville’s minority communities

May 14, 2020: The Front Lines: Vanderbilt physicians, researchers join worldwide fight against COVID-19

May 5, 2020, From Science: The race is on for antibodies that stop the new coronavirus

Research conducted at VUMC into the causes, treatment and prevention of COVID-19

Mark Denison, Andrea Pruijssers, and team (Pediatrics Infectious Disease) contributing to development and characterization of COVID-19 vaccines and antiviral therapies, including remdesivir and EIDD-2801, a new oral bioavailable drug for treatment of COVID-19 

Publications & Funding

Featured articles


James Crowe, Robert Carnahan, and team (Vanderbilt Vaccine Center), studying human monoclonal antibodies for prevention and treatment of SARS-CoV-2 infection. A pair of COVID-19 long-acting antibodies discovered by the group has moved to phase 3 clinical trials with AstraZeneca

Publications & Funding

Featured articles


Interdisciplinary team of Vanderbilt University and Vanderbilt University Medical Center faculty is innovating to develop open-source ventilator design 


Justin Balko (Medicine), with co-PIs Suman Das (Medicine) and Jonathan Schmitz (Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology), leads in-house development of a high-throughput-enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) test for COVID-19 antibodies 


VUMC joins international COVID-19 Host Genetics Initiative to share resources that advance genetics research. Participating Vanderbilt researchers include Nancy Cox (Medicine), Jennifer “Piper” Below (Medicine), Lea Davis (Medicine), Simon Mallal (Medicine), Elizabeth Phillips (Medicine). 

Josh Peterson (Biomedical Informatics) and Lisa Bastarache (Biomedical Informatics) developing COVID-19 patient registry from electronic health records as a foundational resource for the Initiative and other studies.


Jonathan Kropski (Medicine), Jennifer Sucre (Pediatrics), and Bryce Schuler, MD, PhD (Pediatrics) collaborate with investigators of the Human Cell Atlas Lung Biological Network to use single-cell genomic approaches to determine mechanisms regulating susceptibility to SARS-CoV-2


Wes Ely and the VUMC Critical Illness, Brain Dysfunction, and Survivorship (CIBS) Center collaborators study the cognitive function and physical outcomes of COVID-19 survivors to unravel the relationship between COVID-19 and long-term health. Learn more about all CIBS studies and their extensive press coverage here.

  • BRAIN-2: National study in which deceased patients’ families are consenting to provide a priceless donation to science to study COVID-19 effect on the brain
  • Funded by NIH-NIA


Meghan Kapp (Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology), Manus Donahue (Radiology and Radiological Sciences), and colleagues deploy imaging and diagnostic pathology to determine how SARS-CoV-2 affects the heart


Isaac Thomsen (Pediatrics) and Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program colleagues have developed a liquid bead-based assay for the quantification of SARS-CoV-2 antibodies following COVID-19 disease. Now using the assay to investigate whether severity of COVID-19 disease correlates with antibody titers, and working with the Mark Denison lab to determine the amount of antibody required to neutralize the virus.

  • Funded by Hays Foundation


Ivelin Georgiev (Pathology, Microbiology and Immunology) developing antibody-based therapeutics and vaccine candidates against SARS-CoV-2 infection

  • Funded by Hays Foundation and Fast Grants (Fast Funding for COVID-19 Science program)


Eric Gamazon (Medicine) joins international collaboration to conduct the largest genetic study of 179 host proteins that interact with SARS-CoV-2 or are involved in host response to COVID-19. The team identified >200 genetic variants that can inform genetics-driven drug discovery or drug repurposing initiatives to target COVID-19, or that can be used to study why only certain individuals suffer from adverse effects and complications. 


John Stafford (Medicine) leads effort to explore HDL's role in innate immunity and cardiovascular protection in diabetics with COVID-19, specifically, whether HDL cholesterol particles have antiviral properties that prevent SARS-CoV-2 replication and inflammation associated with COVID-19 illness

  • Funded by American Diabetes Association


Harold “Bo” Lovvorn III (Pediatric Surgery), Natasha Halasa (Pediatrics), Gretchen Jackson (Pediatric Surgery), and Zaid Haddadin (Pediatrics) investigate whether SARS-CoV-2 can be spread through aerosolized emissions during minimally invasive surgery in children.


Xingyi Guo (Medicine) and colleagues identify genetic alterations that might be key to reducing infectivity by SARS-CoV-2


Qin Zhang, Dennis Jeppesen, James Higginbotham, and Robert Coffey (Medicine) lead studies to demonstrate that SARS-CoV-2 binds to ACE2-positive extracellular vesicles and exomeres, providing a possible "decoy" to prevent infection by SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses.


Tom Aune (Medicine) and colleagues analyzed whole-genome RNA sequencing data and found loss of A-to-I editing of endogenous Alu RNAs in severe COVID-19 disease. Failure of A-to-I editing of Alu RNAs in severe COVID-19 disease may contribute to extreme pro-inflammatory responses and the 'cytokine storm'.

  • Funded by NIH (NIAID)

View list of COVID-19 IRB Approved Clinical & Translational Research Projects (login required)


Buddy Creech (Vanderbilt Vaccine Research Program) leads clinical trials for evaluation of COVID-19 vaccines and treatments. Currently underway are a phase-3 clinical trial of Moderna Inc.'s COVID-19 vaccine and a trial to treat COVID-19 inpatients with remdesivir.

COVID-19 Vaccine Clinical Trial

Remdesivir Clinical Trial


Wesley Self (Emergency Medicine) partners with Massachusetts General Hospital on clinical trial recruiting inpatients for treatment with hydroxychloroquine. Findings from the national study “do not support” the use of hydroxychloroquine for the treatment of adult patients hospitalized with COVID-19. Compared to inactive placebo, hydroxychloroquine did not significantly improve clinical outcomes of patients hospitalized for respiratory illness related to COVID-19.


Ingrid Mayer, Justin Balko and Brian Rini (Medicine) collaborate with University of Minnesota on a national trial testing HCQ or placebo in high risk (pre-exposure) health care workers. This includes a substudy for collection of blood-based correlatives on ~300 health care workers for seroconversion studies. In this study, hydroxychloroquine (HCQ) did not significantly reduce the incidence of COVID-19 among health care workers who participated in the national study.


VUMC efforts in Healthcare Worker Exposure Response and Outcomes (HERO) research program led by HERO steering committee co-chair Russell Rothman (Institute for Medicine and Public Health), and VUMC lead PI Sean Collins (Emergency Medicine).


Passive Immunity Trial of Nashville (PassItOn) study collects and evaluates SARS-CoV-2 convalescent plasma as a treatment for patients with critical COVID-19 infections

--Allison Wheeler (Pathology, Microbiology, and Immunology) leads plasma collection arm of study

--Todd Rice (Medicine) and Wesley Self (Emergency Medicine) lead nationwide randomized, controlled trial to test whether infusions of convalescent plasma from COVID-19 survivors can help other hospitalized patients with COVID-19


Todd Rice (Medicine), Edward Qian (Medicine), Cheryl Gatto (VICTR, Biostatistics) and colleagues with the Learning Healthcare Initiative are evaluating the impact of patient positioning in the management of COVID-19.  An ongoing, embedded, pragmatic trial focuses on encouraging patients with supplemental oxygen needs to self-prone with the goal of preventing an escalation in their respiratory support care.


Kyle Kimura (Otolaryngology) studies the impact of nasal saline irrigations on viral shedding/viral load and viral transmission, secondary bacterial load, and nasopharyngeal inflammation in patients infected with SARS-CoV-2


Todd Rice (Medicine) and team collaborating with Blade Therapeutics to evaluate the safety and antiviral activity of novel small molecule BLD-2660 in a Phase 2, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled study in hospitalized subjects with recently diagnosed COVID-19


Mayur Patel (Surgery) and Wes Ely (Medicine) investigate cognitive rehabilitation intervention for ICU survivors, including COVID-19 survivors, through Returning to Everyday Tasks Utilizing Rehabilitation Networks (RETURN) III study


Wesley Self (Emergency Medicine) and collaborators are evaluating razuprotafib, a drug used to treat glaucoma, in a new randomized, investigational trial for the prevention and treatment of acute respiratory distress syndrome (ARDS) in adult patients with moderate to severe COVID-19.


The Vanderbilt Institute for Clinical and Translational Research (VICTR) and RTI International, a non-profit clinical research organization based in North Carolina, have been named Administrative Coordinating Center (ACC) of a national effort to streamline the research response to life-threatening lung and heart problems caused by COVID-19. The ACC will ensure the efficient and effective operation of a COVID-19 Clinical Trials Platform with the goal to enable rapid and rigorous testing of potential treatments for the pulmonary and cardiovascular consequences of COVID-19. 


David Haas (Medicine) and Beverly Woodward (Nursing) lead clinical trial of promising treatments for COVID-19 in the outpatient setting. VUMC is one of 25 sites nationwide conducting ACTIV-2, which includes both phase 2 and phase 3 evaluations of multiple potential therapeutics for COVID-19 in a single trial.


Todd Rice (Medicine), Wes Self (Emergency Medicine) and the Vanderbilt Coordinating Center team up with the University of Colorado and Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center to lead the TREAT NOW telemedicine clincial trial. The trial aims to determine whether lopinavir/ritonavir, an antiviral drug combination approved for HIV disease, can reduce the severity of illness in people with early-confirmed COVID-19.


A pair of COVID-19 long-acting antibodies discovered by James Crowe, Robert Carnahan, and team (Vanderbilt Vaccine Center), has moved to phase 3 clinical trials with AstraZeneca.


Remdesivir becomes the first drug approved by the U.S. Food and Drug Administration for the treatment of COVID-19. Remdesivir was first shown by Mark Denison and colleagues to have potent anti-coronavirus activity. Buddy Creech led the Vanderbilt site of the multicenter Adaptive COVID-19 Treatment Trial.


Brian Rini (Medicine) leads NCI COVID-19 in Cancer Patients Study (NCCAPS.) NCCAPS will combine clinical outcomes and biospecimen research in 2,000 participants who have both active COVID infection and an active cancer who are undergoing treatment.


Buddy Creech (Pediatrics) and the Vanderbilt Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit begin ENSEMBLE phase 3 clinical trial of Janssen COVID-19 vaccine candidate

Department of Health Policy launches resources to inform COVID-19 response


Jeremy Warner (Medicine), Brian Rini (Medicine) and colleagues launch the COVID-19 and Cancer Consortium (CCC19) to understand how COVID-19 affects cancer patients:


Tina Hartert (Medicine) leads nationwide Human Epidemiology and RespOnse to SARS-CoV-2 (HEROS) surveillance study to define the magnitude of SARS-CoV-2 infection in the US population


Daniel Byrne, Henry Domenico, Ben French, Ryan Moore (Biostatistics), Elizabeth Phillips (Medicine), and Ritu Banerjee (Pediatrics) developing patient-level predictive models of COVID-19 diagnosis and prognosis to improve health outcomes. The models provide risk stratification for the probability of being COVID-19 positive and, if positive, probability of having poor outcomes.


George Nelson (Medicine) and Chris Fiske (Medicine) lead multi-center collaborative in the southeastern US to describe clinical characteristics and outcomes in patients hospitalized with SARS-CoV-2


Miriam Lense (Otolaryngology) leads study of family well-being and music engagement during COVID-19


Hendrik Weitkamp (Pediatrics) teams up with Duke Clinical Institute to study pharmacokinetics, pharmacodynamics, and safety profile of understudied drugs administered to children under standard of care for treatment of COVID-19 and other conditions


Robert Lentz (Medicine) and colleagues launch international COVIDBRONCH Initiative, an network of airway specialists formed to quickly share knowledge regarding the performance of airway procedures during the COVID‐19 pandemic


Wes Ely and the VUMC Critical Illness, Brain Dysfunction, and Survivorship (CIBS) Center collaborators study the cognitive function and physical outcomes of COVID-19 survivors to unravel the relationship between COVID-19 and long-term health

Learn more about all CIBS studies and their extensive press coverage here.

  2. ISOLATE-ICU: Impact of Solitude On Patients, Loved Ones And Healthcare Teams’ Experiences in the ICU  
    • National study of the effect of COVID-related isolation policies on patients, families, and healthcare providers in the ICU
  3. COVID-D: Delirium in Critically ill patients with SARS-COV-2 Infection 
    • Brenda Pun serves as American lead investigator on this international, 100-site retrospective study of the risk factors and epidemiology of delirium and coma in COVID-19 patients while admitted to the ICU. Study aims to report the prevalence of delirium at initial management in critical care, to report its morbidity and mortality and to identify prognostic factors.
    • Science Magazine: For survivors of severe COVID-19, beating the virus is just the beginning


Justin Gregory (Pediatrics) teams up with Allison McCoy (Biomedical Informatics), Chris Slaughter (Biostatistics), Sara Duffus, Jordan Smith, Daniel Moore and Sarah Jaser (Pediatrics), and UCSD colleagues to quantify excess risk for adverse outcomes among patients with type 1 diabetes who have COVID-19


Brad Malin (Biomedical Informatics) and colleagues developing the first patient data sharing framework specifically keyed to dynamics of pandemics


Leora Horn (Medicine) steers the global TERAVOLT consortium (Thoracic cancERs international coVid 19 cOLloboraTion) to study long-term outcomes of thoracic cancer patients sickened by COVID-19


Ryan Hsi (Urology) leads study to understand the experiences of patients with kidney stone disease during the COVID-19 pandemic


Consuelo Wilkins (Medicine) with colleagues Elisa Friedman (Meharry-Vanderbilt Alliance), Sunil Kripalani (Medicine), and others across VUMC, are working to disaggregate data by primary language – as well as race, ethnicity, ZIP code and insurance status – of those who received COVID-19 tests at VUMC and tested positive. Early data illustrates the disproportionate impact the pandemic is having on racial or ethnic communities.


Carlos Grijalva (Health Policy) and Keipp Talbot (Medicine) lead research team's "pivot" to examine the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 within households in Nashville. The longitudinal study is one of the few in the US to examine coronavirus infections among close contacts.


Wesley Self and Bo Stubblefield (Emergency Medicine) lead IVY Research Network epidemiology studies of COVID-19 in health care workers and patients.

Nearly half of healthcare workers positive for COVID-19 antibodies reported having no symptoms, and more than half of COVID-19 patients could not identify prior close contact with a person known to have COVID-19.

COVID infections in health workers often go undetected.

Going to dine-in restaurants was identified as a factor strongly associated with testing positive for COVID-19.


Adam Wright (Biomedical Informatics) and Shriji Patel (Ophthalmology & Visual Sciences) lead research efforts to identify the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on routine healthcare screening and treatment


Stephen Patrick (Pediatrics) and Vanderbilt Center for Child Health Policy colleagues study how COVID-19 is affecting the health, well-being, and food security of U.S. families with children


Sarah Jaser (Pediatrics), Lindsay Mayberry (Medicine), and Laurie Novak (Biomedical Informatics) lead study investigating the impact of COVID-19 and social distancing requirements on adolescents' diabetes management and maternal stress and coping

  • Funded by the NIH NIDDK and OBSSR


Vanderbilt-Ingram Cancer Center joins consortium to better understand the consequences of COVID-19 in delaying cancer detection, care and prevention.


Wesley Self (Emergency Medicine) and colleagues show SARS-CoV-2 antibodies drop substantially in the weeks following infection. The study of VUMC health care workers showed that 58% of participants who were seropositive at baseline had antibody levels below the threshold of positivity 60 days later.


John Graves (Health Policy) leads study showing areas without mask requirements have larger increase in COVID-19 hospitalizations



Shannon Markus (Emergency Medicine) leads study of racial and ethnic differences in COVID-19 severity and outcomes in multiple large metropolitan populations in the STAR Clinical Data Network. The study controls for sociodemographic factors, including age, sex, household income, insurance status, place of residence, and baseline comorbidities. The study will identify whether there are racial/ethnic differences in rates of SARS-COV-2 infection, hospitalization, and critical illness, and to determine if delayed presentation subsequently leads to worse outcomes. 

VUMC's many shared resources and facilities are available to support COVID-19 research and other needs

View the full list of VUMC shared resources & cores here.

Users of core facilities/shared resources should contact the facility manager in advance to plan for core-specific guidance and restrictions regarding any COVID-19 adjustments to operations

Shared resources enabled by VICTR and the CRC:

Clinical Research Center:

  • Staff trained to join float pool, as needed
  • CRC CDRU rooms held open to allow COVID-19 patients, both research and clinical
  • CRC facility is currently utilized for remdesivir (Former inpatients at 15, 29 day post-diagnosis visits)

COVID-19 Research Committees

Shared Resource News & Research Projects

Paul Harris (Biomedical Informatics) supports new technical tools and resources using REDCap, e-Consent for inpatient and outpatient trial recruitment


Arna Banerjee (Anesthesiology) and the Center for Experiential Learning and Assessment (CELA) deploy unique resources for training and innovation to support advanced COVID-19 patient care


ACCRE (Vanderbilt’s Advanced Computing Center for Research and Education) powers COVID-19 research through the Open Science Grid


VISE (Vanderbilt Institute for Surgery & Engineering) faculty spearhead re-design of the intubation box to better capture aerosols