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Leading the charge against COVID-19
The University of Illinois System is leading the charge in the fight against the COVID-19 pandemic—from innovative testing solutions, to clinical trials for vaccines and treatments, to pioneering new research and innovations, to providing resources and assistance for our communities, and more.

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  • a phone displaying social media app icons

    Social media messaging was effective in mitigating COVID-19, researchers say

    Researchers discovered that employing social media posts as a means of visual nudging to encourage safe behaviors significantly impacts COVID-19 positivity rates. This effect remains evident even after accounting for various organizational characteristics and disease dynamics at multiple levels. 

  • aerial image of wastewater treatment plant

    Discovery Partners Institute receives $2.36M disease-control contract from CDPH

    The Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) is expanding its wastewater surveillance in Chicago beyond the virus that causes COVID-19 under a Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) agreement that extends their disease-control efforts into mid-2024. The DPI-led scientific team is now also analyzing wastewater for evidence of influenza A and B. The new agreement permits this search to grow to include other pathogens, such as the polio or monkeypox viruses, should they emerge as public health concerns.

  • four researchers standing, facing the camera

    UIUC researchers look to duck antibodies to help fight next pandemic

    Could an analysis of ducks’ antibodies help engineer new therapeutics for humans, and potentially develop tools to fight the next pandemic? A team including many UIUC scientists has been tasked with finding out.

  • researching in lab testing sample

    DPI & IDPH launch online COVID-19 tracker

    The Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) and the Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) announced today a new website that tracks the levels of COVID-19 in wastewater samples in Chicago and other cities across Illinois.

  • Ian Ludden, Janet Jokela and Sehldon Jacobson posing outdoors

    Second year of pandemic deadlier for middle aged than the first

    The first two years of the COVID-19 pandemic saw an increase in mortality rates, both from COVID-19 and other causes, but the groups hardest hit shifted between the first and second years, according to an analysis of publicly available data.

  • red covid molecules

    Student-run contract tracing effective in curbing COVID-19 transmission

    The UIC COVID-19 Contact Tracing and Epidemiology Program helped reduce COVID-19 exposures and infections on campus during the 2020-21 academic year, according to results published in the American Journal of Infection Control.

  • four female researchers outdoors

    Study: COVID-19 policies harmed minority women's perinatal experiences, magnified inequities

    Black, Indigenous and other women of color who were pregnant or gave birth during the pandemic said these experiences were overshadowed by isolation, confusion and fear, much of it caused by unclear or frequently changing institutional policies, according to a new UIUC study.

  • Alma Mater with masks

    COVID-19 research on wastewater systems to track pandemics

    The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) announced $1,000,000 in research grant funding to the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign to improve wastewater monitoring to rapidly detect the emergence and spread of infectious disease in the current COVID-19 pandemic, and to detect other pathogens that could cause future pandemics.

  • student walks into COVID-19 testing site

    Media faculty to study public attitudes of COVID-19 testing

    Three UIUC College of Media faculty have received a $25,000 research grant from SHIELD Illinois for a project that will examine public attitudes, news framing, and online engagement about SHIELD COVID-19 testing. 

  • colorfulo artist's rendering of DNA strand nets and COVID molecules

    DNA nets capture COVID-19 virus in low-cost rapid-testing platform

    Tiny nets woven from DNA strands can ensnare the spike protein of the virus that causes COVID-19, lighting up the virus for a fast-yet-sensitive diagnostic test – and also impeding the virus from infecting cells, opening a new possible route to antiviral treatment, according to a new study.

  • covid spiky ball

    Boosters plus interventions could cut deaths

    Combining the widespread use of booster shots with a couple of protective measures more commonly used earlier in the pandemic could help reduce COVID-19 deaths in upcoming months, new research from UIUC suggests.


    IDPH, DPI, Shield T3 to expand wastewater monitoring to schools

    The state of Illinois announced it is launching an innovative pilot program to protect school children from COVID-19 and reduce its spread through classrooms by analyzing school wastewater for the coronavirus, an expansion of the partnership between IDPH, the Discovery Partners Institute and Shield T3.

  • Professor  Christopher Brooke posed in lab

    Who should get an omicron COVID-19 booster?

    Although the omicron variants seem less deadly, COVID-19 vaccine boosters are needed to keep up with the virus as it evolves, says UIUC microbiology professor Christopher Brooke.

  • ShieldT3 blue vending machine

    Shield T3 launches a vending machine for COVID-19 tests

    Shield T3, a spin out of the U of I System’s Discovery Partners Institute, is now providing vending machines stocked with more than 300 of its saliva-based, PCR tests for COVID-19. 

  • UIC circle logo statue

    Developing antivirals for pandemic-level viruses

    Researchers at UIC are working with the National Institutes of Health and researchers from across the country to establish a center for antiviral drug development for pandemic-level viruses, including Ebola and SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. 

  • Professor Melissa Ocepek

    Food-buying behavior during the COVID-19 pandemic

    A new study examines how Americans acquired food at various points during the COVID-19 pandemic, and how those activities changed over time as case numbers fluctuated and vaccines became available.

  • Kathryn Clancy posing in lab

    In survey, COVID-19 vaccine recipients report changes in menstrual bleeding

    In a survey of more than 35,000 people, UIUC anthropology professor Kathryn Clancy and her colleagues collected evidence that many individuals experience menstrual changes after COVID-19 vaccination.

  • colorful image of spike protein molecules

    COVID-19 virus spike protein flexibility improved by human cell's own modifications

    University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign researchers created atomic-level models of the spike protein that plays a key role in COVID-19 infection and immunity, revealing how the protein bends and moves as it seeks to engage receptors.

  • Tara Powell and Jenna Mueller in front of colorful mural

    Study examines pandemic’s impact on volunteer health care workers

    Compassion satisfaction – the gratification associated with helping others – protected volunteer health care workers against stress-related symptoms and burnout during the early days of the pandemic, according to a new UIUC study.

  • Research team members outside on campus

    Study examined COVID-19 policies' effects on people with disabilities

    The gym closures, social distancing mandates and other COVID-19 mitigation policies in the U.S. negatively affected the mental health and well-being of some people with disabilities by significantly curtailing their ability to remain active, researchers found.

    In a survey of more than 950 people with diverse types of disabilities, researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign identified four groups of people – heavily impacted, resilient, adapted and radically changed – who were differently affected by the pandemic.

  • child kneeling on gym floor spitting into tube

    IDPH to offer free covidSHIELD tests for public schools for 2022-23 school year

    The Illinois Department of Public Health (IDPH) today announced a renewed agreement with SHIELD Illinois that offers every public school outside of Chicago the opportunity to use the University of Illinois System’s innovative, saliva-based COVID-19 testing platform at no cost for the 2022-23 school year. 

  • SHIELD testing sign in front of building

    SHIELD program a model for effective pandemic management, data show

    A new paper in the journal Nature Communications details the innovations in modeling, saliva testing and results reporting of the SHIELD program that helped mitigate the spread of the virus at University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and the surrounding community.

    SHIELD has been deployed in schools and communities across the state through the U of I System's SHIELD Illinois unit, and around the world through the university-related organization Shield T3.

  • close up of woman in lab

    New tool providing solid clues to COVID-19's resurgence

    University of Illinois at Chicago associate professor Rachel Poretsky is doing sewage surveillance through the University of Illinois’ Discovery Partners Institute. Poretsky is co-leading a team with computer scientist Charlie Catlett that’s using Chicago wastewater to identify viral hot spots.

  • Chicago skyline

    SHIELD Illinois opens two free COVID testing sites in Chicago

    SHIELD Illinois opened two additional free community testing sites in Chicago this month, bringing its total number of locations statewide to 44. The newly opened community sites increase access to COVID testing in underserved communities. 

  • UIC red circle statue

    Health experts caution against ‘new normal’ strategies for COVID-19

    Jun Ma, of the University of Illinois Chicago, said that together, the COVID-19 pandemic and the chronic disease crisis create what is called a synergistic endemic, or syndemic — overlapping epidemics that interact, increasing the burden of disease and the likelihood of poor outcomes. 

  • audience viewing a UIS presentation on screen

    UIS and Sangamon County working to document pandemic

    The Sangamon County historical society teamed up with the Abraham Lincoln Presidential Library and Museum, the University of Illinois Springfield, and the Illinois State Museum to document the history of the pandemic.

  • masked and unmasked passengers wait in airport terminal

    COVID cases among TSA officers shows effects of end to federal mask mandate

    Sheldon Jacobson, professor of computer science at UIUC shares his views on the rising cases of COVID among TSA officers in a Chicago Tribune commentary.

  • Pamela Martinez, Christopher Brook and Rebecca Smith pose in lab

    Study tracks COVID-19 infection dynamics in adults

    A team led by scientists at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign tracked the rise and fall of SARS-CoV-2 in the saliva and nasal cavities of people newly infected with the virus. The study was the first to follow acute COVID-19 infections over time through repeated sampling and to compare results from different testing methodologies.

  • Twitter app on mobile phone

    Researchers scour Twitter to analyze public attitudes about COVID-19 vaccinations

    A new study from the University of Illinois Chicago examines key themes and topics from almost three million COVID-19 vaccine-related tweets posted by individuals and explores the trends and variations in public opinions and sentiments about vaccines and vaccination programs

  • COVID virus

    Study: Black girls’ health ‘heavily impacted’ by COVID

    The physical, psychological and sexual development of Black adolescent girls has been “heavily impacted” by the COVID-19 pandemic, said UIC College of Nursing assistant professor Natasha Crooks, PhD, RN.

  • colorful rendering of antibodies attacking a COVID particle

    Machine-learning model can distinguish antibody targets

    A new University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign study shows that it is possible to use the genetic sequences of a person’s antibodies to predict what pathogens those antibodies will target. 

  • Dean Rashid Bashir posing indoors

    Portable, point-of-care COVID-19 test discerns alpha variant from earlier strains

    A point-of-care COVID-19 test developed by researchers at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign can now detect and differentiate the alpha variant of the SARS-CoV-2 virus from earlier strains in saliva samples.

  • scientist in white coat and mask processing blood samples in lab

    UIC to participate in NIH phase two clinical trial on additional boosters

    The University of Illinois Chicago will participate in a National Institutes of Health phase two clinical trial evaluating additional COVID-19 booster shots for adults.

  • Wendy K.Tam Cho headshot

    COVID-19 outcomes not consistently explained by race, social vulnerability

    And according to a paper co-written by a University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign political scientist who’s an expert in data-driven social research, the racial health disparities experienced by minorities in the U.S. during the early months of the initial outbreak should be of concern for everyone.

  • helathcare worker swabbing nose of patient

    UIC to research long COVID-19 with $22 million from the NIH

    A team of University of Illinois Chicago researchers is projected to receive approximately $22 million from the National Institutes of Health over four years to research long COVID-19. 

  • UIC skyline in early morning

    UIC Urban Forum to focus on inclusive post-pandemic recovery

    The University of Illinois Chicago’s 2022 Urban Forum will bring together civic leaders, public health professionals and economic development experts to discuss new ideas to create an inclusive and enduring pandemic recovery.

  • Liliane Windsor in coat and scarf outdoors

    Helping East St. Louis residents overcome barriers to testing, vaccination

    A project co-led by UIUC that is underway in East St. Louis, Illinois, is investigating strategies for overcoming barriers to COVID-19 testing and vaccination among more than 548 medically and socially vulnerable residents of St. Clair County.

  • Red covid molecules

    Activation of specific immune cells may be a predictor of severe COVID-19

    Scientists at the UIC have found new evidence that people with severe COVID-19 may have something in common: an early and persistent activation of neutrophils, a type of white blood cells that the immune system uses to fight bacteria.

  • health workers in alleyway

    UIC report details failures of public policy responses to pandemic in Chicago

    A new UIC report finds that despite efforts to address racial inequities during the pandemic in Chicago, vulnerable communities’ needs remained unmet.

  • student submitting sample to SHIELD worker

    Inside the massive SHIELD Illinois testing operation

    WTTW visited the SHIELD Illinois COVID-19 testing site at the Illinois Math and Science Academy in Aurora and one of the testing labs in North Chicago recently to take a look inside the massive operation.

  • masked professor working in lab

    Professor wins grant to fund flu, COVID-19 antibody research

    UIUC biochemistry professor Nicholas Wu was recently chosen to receive a $150,000 next generation grant to fund his flu and COVID-19 antibody research.

  • artist rendering of proposed DPI

    Shield T3 & DPI announce commercialization of COVID-19 wastewater monitoring

    Shield T3 and the Discovery Partners Institute (DPI) today announced a new service to state and local governments outside of Illinois: Testing COVID-19 and its variants in sewage.

  • graphic illustration of biosensor and covid molecule

    New technique digitally counts intact SARS-CoV-2 virus particles in saliva

    The new approach to COVID detection uses a specially designed nucleic acid molecule, called an “aptamer” attached to a biosensor that selectively recognizes one of the proteins on the virus outer surface, and captures it in a single step at room temperature, with no other reagents required. 

  • Minakshi Raj, female professor

    Caregivers often left out of telehealth services during pandemic

    Illinois kinesiology and community health professor Minakshi Raj led a study that found many family caregivers who would have been involved in in-person care were left out of telehealth services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

  • COVID red spiky ball image

    ‘Decoy’ protein works against multiple SARS-CoV-2 variants

    A drug treatment that acts as a decoy against SARS-CoV-2 was highly effective at preventing death and lung damage in humanized animal models of severe COVID-19 disease, according to a Nature Chemical Biology study from researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago.

  • surgical masks

    New study reports mask-wearing experiences of adults with asthma

    Researchers at the University of Illinois Chicago conducted an online survey of 501 adults with asthma to better understand the extent of, and the problems related to, mask use in the era of COVID-19. 

  • Chicago skyline

    SHIELD Illinois launches free testing site at DePaul's Loop Campus

    SHIELD Illinois, the University of Illinois System’s in-state, non-profit COVID-testing unit, is partnering with DePaul University and the Chicago Department of Public Health (CDPH) to launch a free community testing site at DePaul’s Loop Campus.

  • spiky red ball COVID-19 image

    At-home COVID-19 test in development potentially as good as lab PCR tests

    UIC researchers have designed a high-quality assay that can be used in at-home tests for rapid COVID-19 screening. Results from an early preclinical study suggest that tests with the new assay may be just as reliable as lab-based PCR tests.

  • UIUC students social distancing on football field

    Does our place in society influence how we respond to COVID-19 protocol?

    University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign electrical and computer engineering professor Lav Varshney is a co-author of a new study that explores how social capital influences choices regarding COVID-19 mitigation compliance.

  • empty airplane interior

    Models predict optimal airplane seating for reduced viral transmission

    A new study led by a UIUC computer science professor and aviation risk expert calculated the optimal ways to seat passengers on airplanes based on the most recent data on aerosol transmission of the virus that causes COVID-19.