Members of the Vanderbilt Institute for Infection, Immunology and Inflammation are working together to make extraordinary advances in health and medicine.
VI4 is supporting efforts to improve testing, develop therapies, and create vaccines against COVID-19.
At the frontline of this battle is the laboratory of Dr. Jonathan Schmitz, the Medical Director of the VUMC Molecular Infectious Diseases Laboratory, or “MIDL”. The MIDL is responsible for diagnosing infections at VUMC through the detection of DNA and RNA from viruses, bacteria, fungi, and parasites. As the number of COVID-19 cases increased in the city of Nashville, the necessary test kits were in short supply. To solve this problem, Dr. Schmitz teamed up with VI4 researchers to develop and implement an in-house VUMC test for COVID-19. While this test worked exceptionally well to identify sick patients, the need for tests created an almost overnight need for additional microbiologists to perform the new testing. Thanks to a large base of enthusiastic members -- and a special decree from the Governor of Tennessee allowing emergency clinical licensing of microbiologists -- VI4 was able to mobilize a group of over 100 highly trained research scientists from VI4 labs to provide extra hands. Together, this team performed thousands of VUMC’s in-house tests in the early stages of the pandemic. This partnership between the hospital, the scientists at VUMC, and VI4 allowed Nashville to test for the virus very early in the pandemic, significantly improving Nashville’s ability to “flatten the curve”.
This is one of the many ways that VI4 researchers are working together in the battle against infection, autoimmune disease, and cancer!