SARS-CoV-2 virus particles are shown emerging from the surface of cells cultured in the lab. Source: NIAID
When the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus emerged as a global threat in early 2020, numerous investigators in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences and Building 46 quickly turned their attention to uderstanding the virus and its effects. From novel test methods to organismal and social effects of COVID-19 infection, these investigators are making vital contributions. This page includes links to BCS, MIT, and selected media items about this work.
The Massachusetts Consortiom on Pathogen Readieness (MassCPR) awarded funding for multiple projects including one headed by Feng Zhang, “Development of a point-of-care diagnostic for COVID-19.” Zhang is the James and Patricia Poitras Professor of Neuroscience and a professor of brain and cognitive sciences and biological engineering at MIT, and a core member of the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard.
A team of researchers at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at MIT, the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, the Ragon Institute, and the Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) has developed a new diagnostics platform called STOP (SHERLOCK Testing in One Pot). The test can be run in an hour as a single-step reaction with minimal handling, advancing the CRISPR-based SHERLOCK diagnostic technology closer to a point-of-care or at-home testing tool. The test has not been reviewed or approved by the FDA and is currently for research purposes only.
To get ahead of the possible long-term neurological problems from infection, multiple labs in The Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT have begun pursuing research to determine whether and how COVID-19 affects the brain, either directly or via the body’s heightened immune response.
As both a neurologist who sees patients at Massachusetts General Hospital and a clinical postdoc conducting Alzheimer’s disease clinical studies at MIT’s Picower Institute, Diane Chan already has two demanding jobs. But as eastern New England’s need for Covid-19 care surged in late March, she volunteered to take on a third by joining the first wave of non-internal medicine doctors to be trained to evaluate patients in MGH’s respiratory illness clinics.
After being forced to relocate from their MIT dorms during the Covid19 crisis, two members of Professor Rebecca Saxe's lab at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research are now applying their psychology skills to study the impact of mandatory relocation and social isolation on mental health.
With all but a skeleton crew staying home from each lab to minimize the spread of Covid-19, scores of Picower Institute researchers are immersing themselves in the considerable amount of scientific work that can done away from the bench.
When the Covid-19 crisis hit the United States this March, MIT neuroscientist Jill Crittenden wanted to help. One of her greatest concerns was the shortage of face masks, which are a key weapon for health care providers, frontline service workers, and the public to protect against respiratory transmission of Covid-19.