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UMass Lowell Nursing Associate Prof. Ainat Koren
UMass Lowell Nursing Associate Prof. Ainat Koren
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LOWELL – Nursing students and faculty at the University of Massachusetts Lowell will be assisting a federal effort to study the effectiveness of new rapid COVID-19 diagnostic tools and tests, the university announced Monday.

The university’s Solomont School of Nursing received a grant of $935,000 from the National Institutes of Health to participate in its Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics initiative. Students and professors will help analyze the effectiveness of privately developed screening tests and other equipment that could ultimately lead to faster COVID-19 detection at home, or in doctors’ offices, hospitals and community testing sites.

The project will be led by UMass Lowell Nursing Associate Professor Ainat Koren, with help from Nursing Chair and Associate Professor Heidi Fantasia, Associate Professor Comfort Enah and Clinical Assistant Professor Lisa Marchand.

The UMass Lowell team will oversee clinical trials over various products being developed by startup medical device and biotech companies, ranging from more comfortable nasal swabs to machines capable of quickly analyzing samples.

“Nursing is at the forefront of the pandemic. Being an active participant in assisting with the development of accurate point-of-care devices is one of our roles as educators and leaders in the profession,” Koren said in a statement.

The university said the trials will be conducted in partnership with a medical group offering drive-through testing, UMass Lowell’s own testing clinic and possible “mass testing events.” Koren also hopes to partner with a local hospital.

Under the program, patients who seek out testing at partner sites will be asked if they are willing to take a second test and UMass personnel will compare the results to measure efficacy.