Researchers from Tulane University have developed a 15-minute COVID-19 test that is read by a smartphone to address the need to expand testing capacity in community-based settings. This test uses the same CRISPR-based approach that the researchers have submitted to the Food and Drug Administration for Emergency Use Authorization. Rapid PCR tests typically use nasal swab samples and are performed in laboratory settings by highly trained individuals using sophisticated equipment. The saliva-based COVID-19 test, which doesn’t require lab processing, could rapidly expand testing capacity in outpatient clinics, community testing sites and other locations. The assay developed by researchers at Tulane detects SARS-CoV-2 virus RNA in saliva to diagnose COVID-19 and is more sensitive than PCR-based tests, the current gold standard for COVID-19 diagnosis.
Researchers with the Tulane University School of Social Work are conducting a survey to determine the extent of compassion fatigue among of doctors, nurses and other front-line workers responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The survey is the work of disaster mental health experts Leia Saltzman, Tonya Hansel and Charles Figley, the latter of whom was among the scholars who coined the term “compassion fatigue.” Figley is also director of the Tulane Traumatology Institute. “Compassion fatigue is related to the concept of burnout,” said Saltzman, an assistant professor. “It is something we see sometimes in caregivers and emergency responders, particularly in disaster scenarios. “Most often compassion fatigue can be thought of as an emotional exhaustion that manifests as the reduced ability of a caregiver or responder to engage in empathy and/or compassion for the survivor they are working with.”
The study seeks input from medical professionals, mental health professionals, such as social workers, psychologists and psychiatrists and other first responders.
With spring graduation ceremonies canceled or postponed, many class of 2020 graduates are disappointed that their official graduation day won’t be recognized the way they had anticipated. “That walk across a stage was earned through four (in my case, five) years of hard work and panic attacks — just to be taken away within a blink of an eye,” said Loyola University senior Christian Willbern in an Uptown Messenger column. While few deny the public health necessity of closing colleges, it was heart-rendering for many seniors to be abruptly banished from their campuses in the final months of their final year. Universities are finding ways to commemorate the day, often through virtual ceremonies to be followed by a delayed ceremony. Tulane University’s virtual ceremony marking the conferment of degrees to the class of 2020 will take place May 16.
The U.S. Department of Education’s Institute of Education Sciences has awarded the National Center for Research on Education Access and Choice, or REACH, at Tulane University a $100,000 contract to collect data from approximately 150,000 school websites across the country to see how the nation’s education system is responding to the coronavirus pandemic. The project, which will track traditional public schools, charter schools and private schools, aims to quickly answer questions that are critical for understanding how students are learning when school buildings are closed. Key questions include: how many schools are providing any kind of instructional support; which are delivering online instruction; what resources are they offering to students and how do students stay in contact with teachers? “This data will also help answer important questions about equity in the school system, showing how responses differ according to characteristics like spending levels, student demographics, internet access, and if there are differences based on whether it is a private, charter or traditional public school,” said REACH National Director Douglas N. Harris, Schlieder Foundation Chair in Public Education and chair of economics at Tulane University School of Liberal Arts. REACH will work in cooperation with Nicholas Mattei, assistant professor of computer science at Tulane University School of Science and Engineering, to create a computer program that will collect data from every school and district website in the country.
A laboratory based at Tulane Medical Center and in partnership with UMC-LCMC is conducting a new test for COVID-19 that can yield results within four hours. The test was made possible through the joint efforts of the Tulane University School of Medicine, the LSU School of Medicine, Tulane Medical Center, LCMC Health and Roche Diagnostics. Researchers at the Tulane Medical Center Laboratory ran its first set of tests using the Cobas 6800 analyzer over the weekend and is now capable of running nearly 200 tests a day. The testing is open only to patients at Tulane Medical Center and University Medical Center. Roche Diagnostics is the Switzerland-based manufacturer of the Cobas 6800 analyzer.
Students, faculty, and staff at Tulane received an email last Wednesday that said classes will cease or go online, and those living on campus are to leave in the next week and a half. However fracturing to our semesters, this move came as no surprise and with little resentment from students. Tulane is largely a flight school that draws many of its students from Los Angeles, New York and Chicago, and our friends at schools across the country had been sent home throughout the week. There is also a sense of gratefulness on campus — our university is offering emergency housing and food, and most of us have the opportunity to go home if it becomes suddenly necessary. Students recognize that we are in a beautiful city that is not being hit as hard as many other metropolises in the United States — metropolises that many Tulanians come from.
The New Orleans Book Festival at Tulane University has canceled its inaugural event for 2020, citing concerns over the coronavirus pandemic and adherence to university protocol. Tickets purchased for keynote addresses with John Grisham, Michael Lewis and Malcolm Gladwell will be fully refunded within 10 business days. The book festival had planned to run March 19-21, and festival organizers estimated around 30,000 visitors would attend the three-day event on Tulane’s uptown campus. However, the top priority for the festival organizers is that of the health and safety of the general public, authors, volunteers and Tulane’s faculty, staff and students. On Wednesday afternoon, Tulane University announced it would reduce the concentration of people on campus by conducting classes online beginning March 23 and through the end of the semester, reducing the number of gatherings and eliminating non-essential travel.
The City Council on Thursday approved two motions on parking and residential density in the University neighborhood. They are aimed at establishing an Interim Zoning District for the Uptown area near Tulane and Loyola with more stringent parking requirements than the rest of the city. It’s an unusual move for a council that normally prioritizes the creation of housing, particularly affordable housing, over parking. But the Uptown area near Tulane and Loyola universities has an unusual problem, with investors buying up homes and converting them to high-end multi-unit rentals marketed to students. “What’s occurring right now, particularly in the Maple neighborhood, is that doubles are being converted into dormitories,” said District A Councilman Joe Giarrusso at Thursday’s meeting.
Actor and model Indya Moore spoke at Tulane University on Monday (Feb. 17). Moore is best known for the role of Angel Evangelista in the FX drama Pose. They are also openly transgender and non-binary (hence the use of the plural non-gendered pronoun to refer to one person). The event, part of Audre Lorde Days at Tulane, was hosted by the office for Gender and Sexual Diversity at Tulane, the Office of Multicultural Affairs and the Carolyn Barber Pierre Center for Intercultural Life.
Writer Sarah Broom is from New Orleans, but not the part of New Orleans where she spoke on Tuesday (Feb. 4), the famed, oak-lined streets of Uptown. She’s from a yellow house on Wilson Avenue in New Orleans East. Her experience in that house — and what it says about New Orleans, the United States, and our relationship to our environment — is the subject of her debut book “The Yellow House: A Memoir.” It won the 2019 National Book Award for nonfiction. Broom was interviewed in Woldenberg Art Center on Tulane University’s Uptown campus by Atlantic staff writer Van Newkirk, another potent investigator of place and environment.