The worldwide COVID-19 pandemic has lead to unprecedented public health efforts to manage and contain the spread of disease. Physicians, investigators, and public health experts from Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine are combining their efforts, mobilizing resources, and developing tools to help save lives and prevent the spread of disease. From laboratories that are delving into the genetics and behavior of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19, to the public health experts that are developing models to predict the disease’s spread, efforts to combat this unprecedented challenge are underway all across the medical school.

Clinical Breakthroughs

Northwestern Medicine investigators undertook a massive, new, daily home-monitoring program of patients presumed positive for COVID-19 with the assistance of nurses, nurse practitioners, a large workforce of medical students, physicians’ assistants and daily questionnaires delivered through electronic health records.
Education News

In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and the state of Illinois’ stay-at-home order, Feinberg transformed nearly its entire medical school curriculum to be delivered online. Online learning efforts include virtual simulation courses, telehealth visits, virtual standardized patient exams and online team-based active learning activities.


A team of Northwestern scientists have come together from across disciplines to develop a COVID-19 antibody test designed for at-home use. Elizabeth McNally, MD, PhD, is part of the team working on this test to determine prior exposure to the virus.

Although COVID-19 doesn't necessarily discriminate, some communities are far more susceptible to the disease. People who are black or African-American are more likely to contract the virus - and to die from it. Clyde Yancy, MD, discusses reasons for these outcomes and the need to fully address health care disparities in America.

While the world anxiously awaits a vaccine for COVID-19, some physicians on the front lines are trying new or repurposed therapies in an effort to help COVID patients. Benjamin Singer, MD, a Northwestern physician-scientist, discusses his experiences in the ICU during this time and his recently published letter warning against the use of unproven therapies.

This is an update to the Jan. 28, 2020 episode about Northwestern microbiologist Karla Satchell's effort to lead an investigation into the structure biology of the components of COVID-19. The goal is to ultimately understand how to stop it from replicating in human cells through a medication or vaccine.

Judith Moskowitz, PhD, MPH, is a social psychologist and professor of Medical Social Sciences at Feinberg who studies the impact of positive emotion on health-related and other life stress. She discusses her research and things you can do to increase positivity during the COVID-19 pandemic.

In this episode we share a recent Northwestern Medical Grand Rounds presentation called: "COVID-19 An Update on the Current Situation" which was given at Northwestern Medicine on March 17, 2020 by Michael Ison, MD, professor of Medicine in the Division of Infectious Diseases and Professor of Surgery in the Division of Transplant Surgery at Northwestern.

The outbreak of a novel Coronavirus in China is making headlines around the world. Here at Northwestern, microbiologist Karla Satchell, PhD, is leading an effort to investigate the structure biology of the components of the virus to ultimately understand how to stop it from replicating in human cells through a medication or vaccine.

Media Coverage

Fox News

"While there is limited data on infants with COVID-19 from the United States, our findings suggest that these babies mostly have mild illness and may not be at higher risk of severe disease as initially reported from China." said lead author Leena B. Mithal, pediatric infectious diseases expert from Lurie Children's Hospital and assistant professor of pediatrics at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, in a statement.

In April, when a key enzyme couldn’t be delivered to his shuttered laboratory, Northwestern University researcher Thomas McDade hunted for the package across the empty campus near Chicago, finally locating it at a loading dock. To verify the test’s accuracy, the biological anthropologist and his colleague, pharmacologist Alexis Demonbreun, asked friends and family if they’d be willing to spot them some blood. McDade took a sample from his wife over their kitchen table.
Fox News

Northwestern University researchers have put forth a coronavirus antibody test that they say can be completed using only a single drop of dried blood from a finger prick. he test, which is specifically designed to search for SARS-CoV-2 antibodies IgM and IgG, will help in “evaluating how effective policies such as social distancing or closing schools and restaurants are working to prevent viral transmission,” as well as eliminate the need for a clinical setting, according to the team’s lead author.
Crain's Chicago Business

The technology leverages research from Northwestern inventor John Rogers, whose team previously debuted a flexible patch worn on the skin that monitors stroke patients. Meanwhile, algorithms created by AbilityLab scientists are designed to recognize different types of coughs and patterns of respiration.
ABC News

Dr. Babafemi Taiwo, chief of infectious diseases at Northwestern Medicine, which also participated in the study, called the results “really exciting.” “For the first time we have a large, well-conducted trial” showing a treatment helps, he said. “This is not a miracle drug ... but it’s definitely better than anything we have.”
Crain's Chicago Business

“Very often with new diseases, people try multiple things at once, making it difficult to tell what, if anything, worked,” Dr. Richard Wunderink, Northwestern’s medical intensive care unit director, said in the statement. “Researchers in China gave a similar drug to a small number of people and observed what they thought were good effects. It is important to confirm—or not—these findings before we use this medication routinely. We also need to look to see if there are unexpected side effects of the drug in these patients.”

“Someone who’s dying from a bad pneumonia will ultimately die because the heart stops,” said Dr. Robert Bonow, a professor of cardiology at the Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine and editor of the medical journal JAMA Cardiology. “You can’t get enough oxygen into your system and things go haywire.”

On top of that, there may be particular effects of COVID-19, according to Dr. Robert Bonow, a cardiologist at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. The coronavirus has proteins that attach to certain receptors in lungs. As it happens, blood vessel cells have those same receptors, Bonow explained. It's thought that the infection may sometimes directly damage blood vessels, which can cause blood clots that lead to a heart attack.