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Four years ago: U. contributes to COVID-19 emergency response

University leaders discuss COVID-19 measures undertaken four years ago, including 3D printing developments headed by a professor at Robert Wood Johnson Medical School. – Photo by Christian Sanchez

Four years ago, on March 17, 2020, former University President Robert L. Barchi announced a temporary halt on in-person teaching and gatherings at Rutgers in response to nationwide COVID-19 outbreaks.

The University's Biomedical and Health Sciences (RBHS) Chancellor Brian Strom and Vicente Gracias, senior vice chancellor for Clinical Affairs at RBHS and the University's vice president for Health Affairs, reflected on Rutgers Health's response to the crisis in a press release.

"We mobilized in an enormous way," Strom said. "It meant putting many other things aside, but we were saving lives locally, statewide, nationally and globally through our research and contributing to real-time solutions."

The University's contributions to counter-pandemic initiatives included accelerated graduation for New Jersey Medical School students, a Robert Wood Johnson Medical School professor's collaborative project that 3D printed personal protective equipment during a shortage and the nation's first saliva test to determine whether an individual was infected with COVID-19.

Some still disagree with the University's pandemic response measures though. One such group, Children's Health Defense, brought its case against the vaccine mandate in 2021 to the federal Third Circuit Court of Appeals, which was denied in February.

Currently, the University continues to pursue COVID-19 research, including the creation of a drug intended to fight the virus that was announced in February.

​​"This is a case where the sheer scope of Rutgers — the breadth of expertise and the ability to coordinate that expertise — sustained and saved lives," Gracias said in the release.

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