Date: March 30, 2020 By:
Boston, March 30, 2020 – The Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard today announced it has received a gift from Nancy Zimmerman to help fund development of an early response coronavirus (COVID-19) diagnostic that would support medical and other front-line professionals and help manage the current pandemic.
Specifically, the funding from Ms. Zimmerman, who is co-founder and managing partner of Bracebridge Capital, a leading, Boston-based hedge fund manager, will support a team with cutting-edge antibody profiling experience and diagnostic development in taking a systematic approach to the design of a robust, high throughput, rapid diagnostic for COVID-19. Understanding the number of individuals who are exposed and whether they then develop immunity is absolutely key to managing the epidemic, bringing front-line medical staff back to work, and guiding the necessary length of quarantine and sheltering.
The Ragon Institute team is led by Galit Alter, PhD, a Professor in Medicine at Harvard Medical School and a faculty member at the Institute, whose work focuses on the development and use of systems biology tools, such as her innovative systems serology technique, to define the correlates of immunity against infectious diseases. Other team members include Edward Ryan, MD, a Professor of Medicine at the Harvard Medical School and the Director of Global Infectious Diseases at the Massachusetts General Hospital, and James DeCaprio, MD, a Professor of Medicine at Harvard Medical School and the Dana Farber Cancer Center.
“We need new scientific tools now more than ever so that our doctors, nurses and other front-line professionals can take care of our most vulnerable populations with the benefit of knowing who has been exposed and is now immune to COVID-19,” said Ms. Zimmerman. “I’m grateful to be able to help the efforts of Dr. Alter and her colleagues in their development of a powerful tool to address this need.”
Gifts such as Ms. Zimmerman’s can have an incredible impact on the rapid development of diagnostics and other tools to combat coronavirus, says Dr. Galit Alter. “We have had such an outpouring of generosity from philanthropy. Nancy Zimmerman is an example of the importance of rising quickly to support the bigger effort! She got it right away – and made a deliberate investment to build the tools required to define immunity and help us understand both the size of the epidemic and how we can get people back to work.”
About the Ragon Institute
The Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard was established in 2009 with a gift from the Phillip T. and Susan M. Ragon Foundation, creating a collaborative scientific mission among these institutions to harness the immune system to combat and cure human diseases. The Ragon Institute draws scientists and engineers from diverse backgrounds and areas of expertise across the Harvard and MIT communities and throughout the world to apply the full arsenal of scientific knowledge to understanding mechanisms of immune control and immune failure to benefit patients. For more information about the Ragon Institute, visit www.ragoninstitute.org.
Contact for The Ragon Institute of MGH, MIT and Harvard:
For our Q&A interview series, we spoke with Thor Sandstad, Senior Facilities and Operations Manager at the Ragon Institute.
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