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Federal Legislation to Fund Academic Research on COVID-19

Recently proposed legislation would allow the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to give federal grants to academic medical centers such as the University of Rochester and the State University of New York.

Upstate Medical University.jpg
SUNY Upstate Medical University
(TNS) — U.S. Rep. John Katko has introduced legislation to provide federal support to medical centers, including SUNY Upstate in Syracuse, that conduct pandemic research.

The bill would allow the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to award federal grants to facilities that have expertise in COVID-19 research. Katko, R-Camillus, noted that would include SUNY Upstate Medical University and the University of Rochester.

According to Katko’s office, the measure aims to “facilitate and expedite research to better understand COVID-19 variants, improve COVID-19 patient care and survivor recovery, expand mental health resources for health care workers, address health care disparities, advance vaccine research and bolster future pandemic preparedness.”

Katko and U.S. Rep. Nydia Velazquez introduced the bill in the House, while it’s being carried in the Senate by U.S. Sens. Bill Cassidy and Kirsten Gillibrand.

In a statement, Katko highlighted the role SUNY Upstate, the University of Rochester and other academic medical centers have played in the development of COVID-19 tests, treatments and vaccines.

“This bipartisan and bicameral bill will support our local medical centers by funding additional research to provide us with a better understanding of COVID-19 variants, the impacts this virus has on our health, and how to better prepare for future public health emergencies,” he said.

The universities in Rochester and Syracuse are supportive of the legislation.

Dr. Mark Taubman, CEO of the University of Rochester Medical Center and dean of the university's School of Medicine and Dentistry, thinks the legislation will ensure academic medical centers have the resources to learn more about the COVID-19 pandemic.

SUNY Upstate Medical University President Dr. Mantosh Dewan praised Katko for addressing “the urgent need to help academic medical centers, including SUNY Upstate, in our unique role in this battle.”

“Since the start of the pandemic, Upstate has devoted enormous resources to create and deploy the nation’s best COVID-19 saliva test, to complete numerous clinical trials for the vaccine, and to pioneer groundbreaking treatments for this new virus,” Dewan said. “We thank Rep. Katko for his tremendous efforts on our behalf, and we look forward to working with him on innovations to proactively identify and lead rapid responses to emerging health threats.”

©2021 The Citizen, Auburn, N.Y. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.