COVID-19: A Call to Action
Protecting Anteaters Peter is the lone Anteater on the terrace outside UCIâ€™s Student Center on a sunny spring afternoon â€“ when the campus would usually be bustling with about 40,000 people per day. Acting swiftly in support of the public health concept of social distancing to protect the community on and off campus from the coronavirus, UCI leaders on March 10 announced that winter-quarter final exams would be moved online, along with spring-quarter classes, and recommended that students return home if possible. A UC Berkeley study published in June in Nature magazine found that such mandated actions amid statewide shutdown and stay-at-home orders through April may have prevented 60 million more infections nationwide.
Letter From the Chancellor Just a few short months ago, life at UCI was proceeding much as it had for the past 55 years. Thousands of students were filling our classrooms and residence halls. Faculty were teaching their courses and pursuing their research. And our staff was doing what it always does: making sure everything functioned smoothly. Ring Road was crowded, the libraries busy, and the lines at Starbucks as long as ever. And then the world turned upside down. Faced with a situation unprecedented in our lifetimes, and making our first concern the health and safety of every member of our academic community, we made the hitherto-unthinkable decision to pause virtually all in-person operations and move everything online. With extraordinary speed, we moved from in-person instruction to remote learning. With great good humor and generous acceptance, our students packed up their lives and moved to their permanent residences. With enthusiasm and resolve, our faculty embraced the new teaching technology and adapted to altered research conditions. And with the utmost professionalism, our staff helped enable all these changes – and, at the same time, themselves shifted to working remotely. Yes, much of the campus is shut down, but UCI is not closed. As you will see in the following pages, we are still accomplishing our noble mission of teaching, research and public service. At UCI Medical Center, the men and women of UCI Health are working so tirelessly and selflessly to care for our friends and neighbors across the entire region who have contracted COVID-19. Their unequaled competence, their heartfelt compassion and their remarkable courage are in the finest tradition of their profession and make every member of our Anteater community proud that they are among us. On campus, essential research is being conducted by our innovative and pioneering faculty, who are searching for answers to the myriad questions surrounding COVID-19. And those students who were unable to relocate are being tended to by housekeeping staff, food service workers, healthcare providers and other necessary employees. I am extraordinarily proud of how our university has risen to meet the challenge of our lifetime, and I hope you find through this portrait of UCI in the time of COVID-19 that we are, indeed, all in this together.
UCI Magazine Vol. 5, No. 2 Produced by the University of California, Irvine Office of Strategic Communications & Public Affairs Chancellor Howard Gillman Associate Chancellor, Strategic Communications & Public Affairs Ria Carlson Assistant Vice Chancellor, Public Affairs Sherry Main Managing Editor Marina Dundjerski Design Vince Rini Design Visuals Steven Georges, Carlos Puma, Corey Tull and Steve Zylius Copy Editor Kymberly Doucette Editorial Advisory Committee Jennie Brewton, Steve Chang, Mandi Gonzales, Stacey King (athletics), John Murray (health), Will Nagel, Brian O’Dea (health), Janna Parris (advancement), Albert Recinos, Roy Rivenburg, Mara Schteinschraber, Tom Vasich and Lisa Zwick (alumni) Contributing Reporters Greg Hardesty and Cathy Lawhon Contact Have a comment or suggestion? Address correspondence to: UCI Magazine UCI Office of Strategic Communications & Public Affairs 120 Theory, Ste. 100 Irvine, CA 92697-5615 949-824-6922 • email@example.com communications.uci.edu/magazine UCI Magazine is a publication for faculty, staff, alumni, students, parents, community members and UCI supporters. Issues are published in winter, spring and fall.
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Spring 2020 Vol. 5, No. 2
COVID-19: A Call to Action
Commanding the Front Lines Adaptation, ingenuity, dedication and compassion: Battling an invisible, lethal enemy brought out the “true power” of an academic medical center and its people.
High-Speed Research, High-Impact Application From investigating how the coronavirus works to launching antibody detection studies, UCI scientists harnessed their intellectual resources in a quest to serve the public good.
Thriving Through a New Normal With classes and final exams moved into a virtual world, students and faculty put their resilience to the test and turned an initially unsettling reality into newfound exploration and learning opportunities.
About This Issue: As the COVID-19 pandemic began gaining a foothold in the U.S. in mid-March, we realized that we had to temporarily
put aside the spring magazine we had originally been working on and set out to document this unprecedented time. All the photographs that appear in this issue were taken from March through May. Please note that safety standards have evolved and continue to do so, so photos reflect appropriate standards at the time taken. The majority were shot by UCI staff photographer Steve Zylius, photojournalists Carlos Puma and Steven Georges, and campus housing photographer Corey Tull. We also want to thank everyone who sent in screen grabs and photos to help us in this endeavor. The end result is a 10-week snapshot of UCI during the unfolding coronavirus crisis as undaunted Anteaters adjusted, stepped up to the challenge and heeded “A Call to Action.” On the Cover: Susanne Phillips, clinical professor and associate dean of clinical affairs in the Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing, suits up for a shift at UCI Health’s drive-thru COVID-19 testing site in Orange. For more, see page 6.
C O V I D - 1 9
Commanding the Front Lines
he daunting challenge seemingly happened overnight: Stop what you’re doing, rethink how you’re doing it, and adapt – now. With each day delivering a flurry of new and often confusing information about the COVID-19 pandemic, UCI Health and the campus community mobilized to figure out how to combat
this invisible yet deadly enemy. Health and safety changes were made at the hospital,
while elective surgeries were canceled in preparation for a potential springtime surge of coronavirus patients. Medical personnel dove in to care for a smaller-than-anticipated – but growing – number of people seriously ill with COVID-19 and, through acts of compassion, sought to ease the anxieties engendered by the unpredictable disease. With no proven treatment, clinicians launched trials of possible therapies, and public health faculty reached out globally to exchange best practices. “This is the true power of an academic medical center where taking care of others, especially the most vulnerable among us, is bolstered by the innovative inquiry and nimble responsiveness of a modern research university,” said Dr. Steve Goldstein, UCI vice chancellor for health affairs.
Beginning April 16, all healthcare employees, visitors and others entering UCI Medical Center, in Orange, must first be screened by answering a series of questions about potential coronavirus symptoms and then having their temperature taken. If itâ€™s under 99 degrees, they are given a wristband to enter.
T E S T I N G
UCI Health caregivers established Orange County’s first drive-thru screening sites in mid-March – one at Gottschalk Medical Plaza on the UCI campus and another near UCI Medical Center. Here, Susanne Phillips (right), clinical professor and associate dean of clinical affairs in the Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing who led efforts to create the drive-thru on Manchester Avenue, in Orange, assists with a motorist screening. “At the end of the day, everybody who comes to be tested – or everybody who’s been impacted by this disease – whether or not they have money, is human and deserves a human touch,” she said.
“This is such an important time to be part of the healthcare system in America. There’s a lot of fear and uncertainty, but as healthcare workers, we have to find the courage to put our emotions aside, because it’s time to take care of our community and we need to focus on our patients. It takes a lot of courage, strength and passion to do this, but this is what makes the nursing and healthcare community at large so important right now.” Paola German, emergency department nurse at UCI Medical Center and Doctor of Nursing Practice student at UCI
On March 19, UCI Medical Center became the first hospital in Orange County to provide in-house COVID-19 testing. It also implemented antibody detection in mid-April. Here, clinical lab scientist Maryam Sasani scans and loads reagents on the Diazyme DZ-Lite 3000 machine, which checks for antibodies. Bridgit Crews, assistant clinical professor of pathology & laboratory medicine and director of clinical chemistry, toxicology & point of care, works in the background.
Dr. Edwin S. Monuki, UCIâ€™s Warren L. Bostick Chair and professor of pathology & laboratory medicine, watches microbiology lab scientist Jeanie Garcia process a patientâ€™s COVID-19 test sample.
E M E R G E N C Y
D E P A R T M E N T
The UCI emergency department has 75 beds, with 10 dedicated for COVID-19 patients in the “red zone.” A surge capacity tent was built outdoors in case more beds are needed, and an outdoor emergency room triage center was created to screen all patients for coronavirus symptoms before they enter. While the number of individuals seeking emergency care dropped from March to April, those who did were much sicker because they had waited longer to be treated, said Dr. Chris Fox, professor and chair of emergency medicine. “Normally, out of an average 150 people that come to our front door, we admit 23 percent,” he said. “Now we’re admitting 30 percent – the other 70 percent we treat and release. While it may not seem like a big increase, it is. The increase shows that people are sicker when they come here compared to pre-COVID days.”
“When COVID-19 started to ramp up around the country, it’s like it scared all the other diseases away. Almost overnight, one-third of our normal patients stopped coming to the hospital. People are afraid to come to the hospital, so they’re waiting way too long to go to the ER and are coming in much sicker and complicating their condition and outcome. But in our emergency department, we’ve gone so far above and beyond to keep the place really sterile. We have ‘code cleans’ that we do every hour. We also split the flow of patients into a ‘green zone’ and a ‘red zone.’ I feel more comfortable walking around my red zone than I do walking through a store.” Dr. Chris Fox, UCI professor and chair of emergency medicine
M E D I C A L
I C U
UCI Medical Center has over 68 intensive care unit beds, with the capacity to expand further in the event of a COVID-19 surge. The medical ICU, which houses the majority of novel coronavirus patients who need ICU-level care, averages 20 to 30 patients (COVID and non-COVID) daily. In May, the hospital averaged 15 to 20 in-house patients with the coronavirus – about half of them requiring ICU-level care. That number continues to increase, and as of press time, there were more than 40 patients in the hospital with COVID-19, and 20 of those were in the medical ICU, where most require mechanical ventilation.
“We have treated many young patients in their 20s and 30s who are just as sick as our patients in their 60s and 70s with multiple comorbidities. It’s very challenging to treat a disease that the world still knows very little about. We believe that the research and clinical trials being performed by our scientists at UCI will help us better understand COVID-19 and provide methods to prevent and treat it.” Dr. Richard A. Lee, director of the medical intensive care unit at UCI Medical Center and interim chief of the Division of Pulmonary Diseases and Critical Care Medicine
“Many COVID-19 patients I see are on ventilators. Even the ones who are somewhat responsive cannot speak because they’ve been intubated. Because they can’t talk, it’s hard to understand what they need. I search their eyes for clues to what they’re thinking – and how they’re feeling. Usually, it’s fear. I can see it in their eyes. My older patients tend to be more scared – especially those who don’t have any family around. I’ll hold their hand and tell them, ‘Everything will be OK.’” Linh Tran, respiratory therapist at UCI Medical Center
C L I N I C A L
T R I A L S
In the global search for a proven treatment for COVID-19, UCI Health physicians have launched several clinical trials, with more in the works. In March, UCI Medical Center was the first site in Southern California to participate in experimental trials of remdesivir, an investigational broad-spectrum antiviral drug previously tested in humans with Ebola that could be a breakthrough in the fight against COVID-19. Funded by the National Institutes of Health, the study was headed at UCI by Dr. Lanny Hsieh, an infectious disease specialist, and Dr. Alpesh N. Amin, chair of the Department of Medicine and executive director of UCI Health’s hospitalist program. Based on early positive results from the multi-site trial, the Food and Drug Administration on May 1 issued an emergency-use authorization of remdesivir to treat adults and children hospitalized with severe cases of COVID-19. Other investigations include a clinical study of aviptadil in patients with COVID-19 suffering from acute respiratory distress syndrome, a primary cause of coronavirus-induced death. Up to 30 patients at UCI will be included in the trial, led by Dr. Richard A. Lee, interim chief of UCI Health’s Division of Pulmonary Diseases and Critical Care Medicine.
“I’m one of the site principal investigators on the NIH remdesivir trial. We had 22 patients in the first phase, and there were more than 1,000 patients nationally and internationally who participated. This is the first scientifically robust study to show that remdesivir has a significant positive effect in treating the coronavirus. These are unique times, the likes of which we have not seen in 100 years. Patients end up in the hospital, and they’re scared. Everybody’s working very hard to give patients support, both medically and emotionally, and do right by them.” Dr. Lanny Hsieh, hospitalist, infectious disease specialist and UCI Health’s clinical lead for COVID-19 preparation
G L O B A L
E F F O R T
UC Presidential Chair Oladele “Dele” Ogunseitan, UCI professor and chair of public health, participates in a Zoom meeting on April 19 with members of the Southeast Asia One Health University Network. Ogunseitan is on the executive team of the One Health Workforce – Next Generation project, funded by the U.S. Agency for International Development and based at UC Davis, which works to train healthcare workers worldwide on how to address infectious disease threats and recognize the interconnection among people, animals and the environment – including zoonotic diseases. The organization is holding biweekly sessions to share the most up-to-date information relating to COVID-19, covering topics ranging from global epidemiology and laboratory diagnostics to infection control and prevention.
“Nurses in Orange County haven’t had to go through the same grieving process as nurses in New York or Italy or Spain who are being bombarded with COVID-19 patients. And many of those nurses have died. But I see their hurt, I see their pain, and I ache for my brothers and sisters. Every time I hear about nurses and doctors who are on the front lines sacrificing, it really touches me on a personal level. When I hear about people who haven’t been affected by COVID-19 who seem to care less about the disease and aren’t following stay-at-home orders or social distancing, it’s a real slap in the face to nurses and doctors and healthcare workers everywhere. It’s upsetting to me.” Chet Khay, clinical pediatric nurse at UCI Medical Center currently assigned to the Department of Nursing Quality, Research and Education
F A C E
S H I E L D
P R O D U C T I O N
Facing rapidly shifting needs and demands for personal protective equipment for its healthcare workers, UCI Medical Center in mid-March reached out to UCI Beall Applied Innovation. Within days, an interdisciplinary team that also included the UCI School of Medicine, the Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing, The Henry Samueli School of Engineering and the Claire Trevor School of the Arts set out to make 5,000 face shields for UCI Health. In consultation with industry partners, Jesse Colin Jackson of the arts school and Ben Dolan of the engineering school’s Institute for Design & Manufacturing Innovation spearheaded the design, and their teams got to work creating numerous disposable face shield prototypes. They settled on one that could be produced by either 3D printing or laser cutting to make it easier for other individuals and institutions to replicate and so they could run both machine types simultaneously to quickly hit their manufacturing goal.
“This UCI-based face shield effort involved some 50 people from across disciplines and units, including engineering, medicine, nursing and the arts. We needed the harnessing power of the university to help connect all the right people and technologies. I was glad to keep busy during isolation and happened to have the right skills and experience to meet this particular need: rapid prototyping with 3D printers and laser cutters, as well as project management. Given the urgent need for PPE and the technology and expertise we have on campus, it would have been irresponsible not to take this on.” Jesse Colin Jackson, UCI associate professor of art
C A R I N G
F O R
F R O N T- L I N E
W O R K E R S
UCI School of Medicine students have held a series of personal protective equipment drives since March 30, collecting thousands of N95 and surgical masks, face shields, disposable gowns, gloves, disinfectant wipes and goggles from UCI laboratories, community members, students and alumni for UCI Medical Center. Here, Mehron Dhillon stacks donations of latex gloves in the School of Medicine parking lot on April 2.
Medical student Bianca Leonard delivers groceries and prescriptions to a UCI front-line worker on May 1. She’s part of a coalition of more than 140 student volunteers – organized by first-year medical student Austin Franklin – who are trying to ease the burden on medical professionals caring for COVID-19 patients by helping with daily needs such as babysitting, walking dogs and running errands.
Since late March, Shanbrom Hall at UCI Medical Center, in Orange, has been home to a makeshift commissary that UCI Health workers can visit during their shifts for a free bag of staples, including beans, bread, fresh fruits and veggies, and – yes – even toilet paper. Here, nursing assistant Sherwin Donor (right) picks up some supplies on April 16 from occupational therapist and commissary volunteer Ted Lee.
The Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute began offering free mindfulness, acupressure, yoga, massage and stress management sessions to UCI healthcare workers, recognizing that their health and well-being is important and vital to the UCI community, as well as the patients and families they serve. More than 150 employees participated in just the first two weeks of remote classes held by 14 providers. Here, acupuncturist Rachel Rychlock conducts an acupressure session from the institute on May 1.
â€œBecause of the uniqueness of this pandemic, a lot of healthcare workers think the stress they feel is insurmountable. These classes may help our front-line responders feel like they have more control at a time when things seem out of control. Being part of this has been a great honor because I get to serve the community while teaching and engaging with the mindfulness practices that are important skills for navigating these trying times.â€? Dr. Nicole Reilly, mindfulness instructor at the Susan Samueli Integrative Health Institute
S A L U T E S
“It’s just amazing that during this challenging time, acts of kindness and appreciation prevail. I have goose bumps, and my heart is full. Thank you to our local police department, firefighters, ambulance agencies and the organizers for this parade of thanks. We are all in this together, and with my full heart, I will pay it forward by showing more acts of kindness and appreciation not only to my fellow UCI nurses, but to all ‘front-liners.’” Johanah Carrera, perinatal nurse at UCI Medical Center currently assigned to the Department of Nursing Quality, Research and Education
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High-Speed Research, High-Impact Application
hile all but essential research shut down, studies connected to COVID-19 ramped up as UCI’s scientific community mobilized in a quest to serve the public good. Researchers harnessed their intellectual resources to investigate how the coronavirus behaves
and mutates. They created diagnostic tools to help doctors predict which patients are more likely to be admitted to the ICU. And they launched antibody and surveillance studies to better assess the prevalence of the virus in the population and to understand why some people with COVID-19 get very sick while others don’t. Charged with producing and disseminating factual, evidence-based data, these experts welcomed what they saw as a tremendous period of collaboration among colleagues throughout the nation and the world. “The wonderful thing is that [researchers] understood the circumstances that the entire community was facing,” said Pramod Khargonekar, UCI’s vice chancellor for research. “And the first thing they wanted to do was contribute in a meaningful way, however they could.”
Julia Zakashansky, a doctoral student in materials science & engineering, is spearheading the effort to develop the CoronaStrip – a rapid, direct test for the SARS-CoV-2 virus itself, as opposed to the infection caused by the virus – in the lab of Michelle Khine, UCI professor of biomedical engineering as well as materials science & engineering. The assay, based on a paper strip using saliva, could be widely distributed by hospital personnel to the general public for self-screening. The CoronaStrip will be tested in UCI’s Department of Emergency Medicine. Healthcare workers could be among the first targeted recipients of the product to determine whether they’re uninfected when leaving the hospital.
V I R U S
I N H I B I T O R
S T R A T E G I E S
Chemistry professor Rachel Martin (opposite page, center), who has spent her career studying how proteins function, move and interact with other molecules in living organisms, has turned her lab’s focus to unraveling how the coronavirus operates in its beginning stages so that it can be stopped before completely infecting someone. “I quickly became convinced that we could use our knowledge of cysteine proteases and try to come up with inhibitor strategies to block those enzymes from working in the case of this new coronavirus,” Martin said. “While it may not completely stop the virus like a vaccine could, blocking this action of the protease enzyme could be a step toward knocking the virus down and preventing it from causing such dire illnesses.”
“It’s kind of something that caught me off guard. I never would have thought that I’d be working on viral proteins. All things considered, I’m actually grateful that I get the chance to be a part of this scientific effort and have the opportunity to fight this pandemic in my own way. Even though we’re not virologists or COVID-19 doctors or nurses, there’s still something we can do.” Marquise Crosby, first-year graduate student in molecular biology & biochemistry
V I R A L
T R A N S P O R T
M E D I U M
P R O D U C T I O N
With sample-preserving fluid, a critical ingredient of COVID-19 test kits, facing potential depletion, UCI’s Emergency Operations Center put a call out to ascertain whether it could be created in campus laboratories. Before long, a team of researchers figured out a way to synthesize the liquid, called viral transport medium. UCI scientists set out to produce enough VTM for 16,000 test kits over a period of four to six weeks, with the first of it reaching UCI Medical Center by April 10.
“I’m an instructor, so for me, doing this task is simple. But I have to be very careful to make sure the medium doesn’t get contaminated. I test the sterility of each vial twice. I know how important every single vial is. When I close the cap, I think of how this one sample represents one person: It’s their fate. Whether he or she ends up testing clean or positive for COVID-19 – and knowing how worrisome the latter is – I say a blessing when I close the cap. I say, ‘I bless you, whoever you are, to be healthy.’” Christina Tu, stem cell research specialist and director of stem cell training courses at UCI’s Sue & Bill Gross Stem Cell Research Center
S U R V E I L L A N C E
S T U D Y
UCI virologist and immunologist Ilhem Messaoudi Powers (opposite page, bottom), who has years of experience investigating how the human immune system interacts with emerging viral diseases such as Ebola and Zika, has launched a surveillance study of UCI Health workers to determine how many have antibodies against the novel coronavirus. Expected to last a year, the survey will repeatedly examine 300 healthcare providers. “We want to know how many of them may have already been exposed [to COVID-19] and didn’t know about it – and how many of them potentially have immunity,” said Messaoudi Powers, professor of molecular biology & biochemistry. “We’ll take blood samples and nose swabs to measure antibodies and T cell responses, which kill infected cells, as well as potential asymptomatic shedding. It’s a multipronged approach.”
“My lab at UCI has completely pivoted – all other research has been deemed not critical at this point. One of the big goals of my lab right now is getting surveillance projects up and going. We want to measure how many people have antibodies and T cells against the COVID-19 virus. It’s been really great working with my team because we all just want to make a difference. Everyone is rolling up their sleeves and asking, ‘What can I do to help?’ It’s such a wonderful thing to see.” Ilhem Messaoudi Powers, professor of molecular biology & biochemistry
V I R U S
M U T A T I O N
Biomedical engineer Chang Liu and members of his lab team – postdoctoral scholar Alon Wellner (here) and graduate student Ming Ho (opposite page) – are preparing to deal not just with the current coronavirus wave but also with future outbreaks. They want to assist researchers and public health officials in tracking and protecting against the spread of the virus over time as it mutates. So Liu, a UCI assistant professor with joint appointments in biomedical engineering, chemistry, and molecular biology & biochemistry, is applying his expertise in genetic engineering and directed evolution to help find potential therapeutic and diagnostic agents for SARS-CoV-2. His lab has developed a technique called orthogonal DNA replication that’s capable of continuous hypermutation of genes in an engineered yeast cell. Liu is using this synthetic genetic system to detect and neutralize a key interaction between the coronavirus’s spike protein and ACE2, the receptor that acts as the virus’s main entry point into the cell.
“There’s a sense of urgency to do something and also a sense of purpose. It feels good. On the other hand, I’m pretty sad because we had a really collaborative lab of about 15 people that’s down to three. Right now, with our unique rapid-evolution technology, we’re working on engineering specific antibodies called nanobodies that can neutralize the coronavirus and also be used to detect it. Everyone has gone the extra mile to generate the perfect environment for us. We’re feeling the support and pushing through as much as we can.” Alon Wellner, postdoctoral scholar in biomedical engineering
A N T I B O D Y
D E T E C T I O N
Philip L. Felgner, director of UCI’s Vaccine R&D Center, and his lab team have developed a coronavirus antigen microarray – a collection of microscopic DNA bits affixed to a solid surface, such as a glass slide – that holds hundreds of different types of disease proteins, such as those from influenza, malaria, common human coronaviruses, other respiratory viruses and now COVID-19. The group is collecting blood samples from 1,000 UCI Medical Center employees and 5,000 Orange County residents that will be compared to each of these disease proteins to determine a person’s antibody response – and help researchers understand why some people get seriously ill with COVID-19 while others don’t.
“People want answers to many questions: Was the flu I just experienced COVID-19? Do I have antibodies against the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19? Do those antibodies protect me? Do I need to get sick to generate these antibodies, or is asymptomatic infection enough? How can I tell when I have an asymptomatic exposure that induces protective antibodies? Are we building up herd immunity in the world against SARSCoV-2 over time? It’s challenging to get these answers, but we have the tools to get them. So I’m optimistic.” Philip L. Felgner, adjunct professor of physiology & biophysics and director of the Vaccine R&D Center in the UCI School of Medicine
B L U - R AY
S T E R I L I Z E R S
Chris Barty, UCI Distinguished Professor of physics & astronomy, is researching the use of diodes from Blu-ray digital video disc devices as deep-ultraviolet laser photon sources to rapidly disinfect surfaces and indoor air. Such technology would be less expensive than current medical- and scientific-grade systems and easily deployable. “If these sources are successful, I think you could build them into a mask and clean the air that’s coming in and out of you,” Barty said. “Or you could set these things up in the air circulation ducts of major buildings, and the airflow that goes through could be sterilized.” They could also function in hand-held wand devices, he said, or as a “light curtain” through which people walk as they enter a room, exposing them to UV-C radiation that – at a wavelength between 200 and 260 nanometers – will destroy viruses and other pathogens but pose minimal risk to humans.
B R I D G E
V E N T I L A T O R S
UCI engineers are answering the call for simple and affordable ventilators, using off-the-shelf parts and designing stopgap products to help fill the demand. Many are participating in the Bridge Ventilator Consortium, a team of physicians, engineers and biomedical device experts from UCI, the University of Texas, Virgin Orbit and Medline Industries. Marc Madou, a UCI Chancellorâ€™s Professor of mechanical & aerospace engineering, and his lab group are taking a pneumatic approach with their prototype. Above, physics doctoral student Alexandra Perebikovsky and Horacio Kido, a research specialist in mechanical & aerospace engineering, work with the VentiVader, which employs a pressurized chamber to send compressed air through inhalation and exhalation valves into and out of a patientâ€™s lungs.
M A S K
E F F I C A C Y
C O N T A C T
T R A C I N G
A team of UCI researchers led by chemistry professor and aerosol expert James Smith is analyzing materials for creating the most effective do-it-yourself masks. More than 50 fabrics and other components have been tested so far. Among the findings: Common bandannas appear to only stop large droplets, as when a person sneezes, while furnace filters made of nonwoven polypropylene had the best results. But Smith strongly cautions that not all materials can or should be used in masks. A furnace filter made of Fiberglas, for example, could send fibers into a personâ€™s lungs. Said Smith: â€œWe want people to understand what is effective and what is not.â€?
Tyler Yasaka, a software engineer and junior specialist in otolaryngology at the School of Medicine, has co-developed TrackCOVID, a free, open-source smartphone application that permits contact tracing for potential coronavirus infections while preserving privacy. Every time a person gathers with others or goes to a public place, he or she can use the app to log contacts by either hosting or joining a checkpoint using a Quick Response, or QR, code. As people congregate with others over time, their interactions are linked to each other anonymously. Anyone who tests positive for COVID-19 can report it through the app without revealing his or her identity.
D I A G N O S T I C S
A new machine learning tool developed by UCI physician-scientists and researchers across the UCI campus is aiding doctors’ decisions with regard to the probable severity of a patient’s coronavirus complications. The Vulnerability Scoring System calculates the likelihood that a COVID-19 patient will need a ventilator based on lab results, personal health factors and demographic information. Already in use at UCI Medical Center, it will soon be launched at five other UC-affiliated hospitals. “As everyone has seen, there is definitely a strong correlation between intubation and age,” said Dr. Peter Chang, a UCI Health neuroradiologist who designed the algorithm and is co-director of UCI’s Center for Artificial Intelligence in Diagnostic Medicine. “But, at the same time, a disproportionate number of our ICU patients are young. You might see a risk factor and think it explains results, but then the data doesn’t necessarily always support that. That’s why tools like this algorithm are important.” Here, Chang works from home on a new predictive model that will automatically characterize imaging findings and be used in conjunction with the VSS calculator.
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Thriving Through a New Normal
he switch flipped, and what started as a disquieting new reality quickly turned into a more settled way of life. While the majority of UCI undergraduates moved home, those remaining on campus saw the implementation of health and safety guidelines and social distancing. From mandatory temperature
checks outside the Student Health Center to near-empty cafeterias with only takeout service, the Anteater community was forced to pivot. Coping, however, soon transformed into
thriving, as innovation and ingenuity bred novel ways of teaching and learning for faculty, who shifted classes online, and students, who came up with creative COVID-19-related projects. Each day brought a familiar set of questions: How long will this last? Will things ever return to normal? But a sense of hope and optimism prevailed â€“ as did a resolve to get through this the right way, setting aside personal interests for the sake of the common good. Said Willie Banks Jr., vice chancellor for student affairs: â€œThis has been a great lesson in resilience and flexibility.â€?
Every night since April 21, the UCI Student Center has been awash in color as part of the global #LightItBlue campaign honoring front-line healthcare professionals and essential workers. Itâ€™s expected to stay lit until the university resumes full operations and students return to classes.
E S S E N T I A L
W O R K E R S
Approximately 550 workers providing vital services remained on campus through May.
“It’s a very different feeling policing a daily population of under 1,000 that used to be a bustling population of some 40,000. It’s like going from patrolling a downtown metropolitan area to a small town. We don’t have the call volume we used to. But that doesn’t make our job of protecting the UCI community any less urgent. Despite the much emptier campus, we remain vigilant in proactive policing – making regular patrols to make sure no laws are being broken – and responding to calls for service.” Alex Bicomong, UCI Police Department officer
T H E
C O M M U N I T Y
Catuidem, consum ponvehe mnihilin similinces bondepe ravolic ierferorum scre inc menihil haliquem triondam, ena, dit. Hebunt. Fecupio, quem, occipti ssidetorum, vo, murbefa certus feculis foremultiam Svivendam facrit. Gra.
“I’ve been working on a creative photography project for Professor Fatimah Tobing Rony documenting day-to-day living during the pandemic. It’s therapeutic to get outside and see things in a new light, like the little things I used to overlook. I never realized how much I would miss driving an hour to school in rush hour on the 405 while the sun blinds me; my peaceful night drives home filled with music; seeing my friends and making new ones; and just enjoying all the opportunities campus brought me. To finish my senior year this way is unfortunate, but I look forward to the next chapter and adapting to a new way of life.” Taylor Stonerock, senior in film & media studies
With K-12 students learning from home during the pandemic, UCI’s CalTeach participants (STEM majors who earn a bachelor’s degree and teaching credential simultaneously) continued their student teaching by moving online, providing class and group instruction, individual tutoring and instructional videos in math and science. Here, the CalTeach advisory council assembles a message of support for them.
At least 60 UCI law students have taken on new pro bono projects since physical distancing began. Left: Madison Gunning is on her way to drop off a green card to a client in Aliso Viejo on behalf of Community Legal Aid SoCal, as part of UCI’s legal document delivery service for seniors, health-compromised individuals and others who cannot leave home. Above: Sarah Kahn is one of several students and law faculty working on COVID-19 habeas corpus petition cases to release at-risk inmates at immigrant detention centers.
E D U C A T I O N
V I R T U A L
W O R L D
Anthropology professor Tom Boellstorff moved his spring quarter class on digital cultures into the virtual world of Second Life, where he created Anteater Island – complete with a lecture hall overlooking the ocean and group spaces where his students can study and socialize without fear of the coronavirus.
The Sue & Bill Gross School of Nursing’s stress and coping research team meets via Zoom on April 24 to discuss incorporating psychological science graduate student Daniel Relihan’s research into a prospective longitudinal study looking at responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in a sample of 6,500 Americans. The team is led by Alison Holman, associate professor of nursing; Dana Garfin, assistant adjunct professor of nursing; and Roxane Cohen Silver, professor of psychological science, public health and medicine.
Omri Marian, professor of law and academic director of the Graduate Tax Program, picked up his electric guitar and recorded a YouTube lesson from his garage on March 20 highlighting the key legal takeaways of personal interest tax deductions to Boston’s “More Than a Feeling.”
“When campus shut down, two of my classmates – Joshua Ramirez and Tim Zuniga – and I had been working on creating a socially assistive robot for Cognitive Robotics with Professor Jeff Krichmar. Tim said, ‘This coronavirus situation is getting pretty serious,’ and we immediately got the idea for this robot. When it comforts, it says, ‘It’s been scary, but we’ll be all right.’ Then it prompts you to stay safe and wash your hands often while it offers hand sanitizer. It was surprising, but this little Lego robot, WALL-E v2, was able to provide some lightness and humor during this time.” Thomas Trac, senior in psychology and business economics
S T U D E N T
L I F E
F L U X
While the majority of UCI students living in residence halls moved out in March, about 800 undergraduates remained on campus for spring quarter, with most consolidated in Middle Earth. (Another 2,100 students stayed in graduate and family housing.) The Brandywine dining hall prepared to-go meals, and the UCI Student Health Center added telemedicine appointments and increased safety measures to continue offering such in-person services as primary care, psychiatry, labs and X-rays, women’s health and pharmacy prescriptions.
“My dorm used to have 80 students; now there are only four of us. There’s a sense of isolation, and it’s been an adjustment. But it’s nice in a way, since it has forced us to focus on school. I decided to stay in the dorms because in the short amount of time I’ve been here, UCI really became a home to me and I’ve loved every minute of it, so it was hard for me to want to part from it so soon – even though the world seemed to shut down around me. Despite the fact that the virus shut down the school and shifted classes to online, the student body has still managed to remain positive and has stayed hopeful for the future here.” Noah Esquibel, freshman in business economics
T I M E
O U T
A T H L E T I C S
“We had just gotten done with our indoor championships, where I set a personal record in the 400 meters (54.81 seconds, a UCI record). I was looking forward to setting a record in outdoor competition. I was devastated when the season was canceled. I coped by focusing on my finals and getting good grades. And things have worked out. We can’t train as much as we would like during track season. So now I have time to really work on things like my flexibility and technique. I’m using this time to build up my muscles and focus on my form and do jumping drills, and I can’t wait to compete in 2021.” Zani Meaders, sophomore in English
“We miss our UCI tribe. The world has called upon us to change the way we connect within our tribe for the good of all humanity, and we’ll answer that call. We will use this time to work on ourselves and our relationships with our immediate families, but we will fight to keep the connections with our UCI family alive and healthy. I am sad for all of our student-athletes that their seasons ended so abruptly. Everyone in the world has made sacrifices. We are choosing to be human first. This is something we will remember for the rest of our lives – more than any goal, basket or best time.” Dan Klatt ’01, women’s water polo head coach
University administrators and health officials met with all athletics staff and student-athletes in the Bren Events Center on March 11 to address their safety and well-being, just before a fanless women’s basketball game at the Big West Tournament. Two days later, all UCI athletic events for the spring season were canceled.
C O M M E N C E M E N T
2 0 2 0
Achievement Is Never Canceled Moving quickly to ensure the safety of all Anteaters and help “flatten the curve,” administrators announced on March 14 that UCI would not be holding traditional commencement ceremonies, making it the first UC campus to do so. (All the others would announce similar actions.) Instead of the customary pomp and circumstance in the Bren Events Center, university officials began working on plans to conduct a virtual ceremony, with individual school receptions, on June 13 to recognize the Anteaters who earned 10,400 bachelor’s degrees, 886 master’s degrees and 299 doctorates in 2019-20.
“I’m a first-generation college graduate with a huge family from the Central Valley. They were looking forward to celebrating with me at commencement, but my family will celebrate me earning my degree, nonetheless, in our own way. This could have happened to any graduating class. In a way, this has made me appreciate the journey even more. Members of the Class of 2020 are going to leave a legacy. The way we’re handling this – continuing to strive during difficult times – is going to set a precedent.” Anmarie Destiny Torres ’20, psychology & social behavior
The Future Front Line UCI School of Medicine graduates celebrated their milestone on May 30 with a drive-thru commencement. Nearly 100 students, accompanied in their vehicles by family members and friends, watched prerecorded and live speeches from their decked-out cars before looping through the school’s parking lot to a designated location where a guest ceremonially hooded the graduate. “My peers and I are graduating during a very unusual period in medicine,” said Richelle Roelandt Lu Homo (not pictured). “It’s frightening as the pandemic reveals our own vulnerabilities and those of the people we love. Yet, at the same time, it’s energizing in that as we continue to pledge to be lifelong students of medicine, the pandemic is also showing us our strength.”
Thank you We are grateful to our community partners and local businesses, large and small, for supporting healthcare heroes during this extraordinary time. Your gifts provide us extra protection while we care for patients. Your support nourishes and brings us joy — reminding us that brighter days are ahead and that together, we are stronger than ever. Anaheim Ducks
Grace Chinese Fellowship
Anchor Stone Christian Church
Peking University Alumni Association of Southern California
B Nutritious Meals
Hyde Park Jewelers
Baxter & Cicero Sailmakers
Irvine Agape Christian Church
Rotary Club of Irvine
SeaCliff Beauty Packaging
Break of Dawn, Crema Café, OC Baking Co. and Tanaka Farms
Khan Saab Desi Craft Kitchen
King Coffee USA Inc.
Buck Mason Company
Laboratory for Advanced Medicine Inc.
Smart & Final
Children’s Burn Foundation
Chinese American Federation
Lowers Industrial Supply
Coto de Caza Neighborhood Group
MEC Industrial Services Inc. MFLEX
Ding Tea Near Disney
United Exchange Corp. and Carol & Eugene Choi
USPS Santa Ana District
Domodo International Corp.
Waste Not OC Coalition
NOVA Kitchen & Bar
Wendy’s and the Boukai Family
Oneness Health Group Inc.
Yamaha Motor Corporation
Garden Grove Unified School District
Sunshine Supply Co. Inc. Taco Bell The Stand Restaurants
Donations received as of May 1, 2020
Thank You to ALL Essential Workers DOCTORS • NURSES • RESPIRATORY THERAPISTS • HOSPITAL STAFF • PHARMACY STAFF • FIRST RESPONDERS POLICE • FIREFIGHTERS • PARAMEDICS • EMTS • PUBLIC HEALTH WORKERS • CAREGIVERS • SCIENTISTS RESEARCHERS • JANITORIAL WORKERS • RESTAURANT WORKERS • DELIVERY DRIVERS • GROCERY EMPLOYEES TRUCK DRIVERS • HOTEL WORKERS • TELECOMMUNICATIONS WORKERS • MANUFACTURING EMPLOYEES CONSTRUCTION WORKERS • HAZARDOUS MATERIALS RESPONSE TEAMS • SOCIAL SERVICE WORKERS FOOD BANK STAFF • CHARITABLE ORGANIZATION EMPLOYEES • ANIMAL CARE FACILITY STAFF • MEDIA MEMBERS FOOD AND AGRICULTURAL WORKERS • MASS TRANSIT WORKERS • AIRLINE EMPLOYEES ENERGY SECTOR WORKERS • POSTAL WORKERS • FACILITIES & WASTE MANAGEMENT WORKERS GOVERNMENT STAFF • WAREHOUSE WORKERS • MEDICAL EXAMINERS • MORTUARY WORKERS • MILITARY MEMBERS AND ALL THOSE WHOSE WORK IS CRUCIAL IN THIS UNPRECEDENTED TIME
A Heartfelt Thank You to Our Healthcare Heroes While most people are working from home, you continue to deliver high-quality care to patients and families. You are on the front lines today and every day because you have dedicated your lives to helping others in need. In these uncertain times, you continue to rise to the challenge, and you reassure us that science, innovation, knowledge and compassion will lead us to a healthier tomorrow. UCI Health extends a heartfelt thank you to healthcare heroes throughout Orange County and beyond.