Leveraging CTSA Hubs for Rapid, Large-Scale, High-Impact Research: a Case Study during a Global Public Health Emergency

Academic Article


  • As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold in the U.S. in early 2020, it became clear that knowledge of the prevalence of antibodies to SARS-CoV-2 among asymptomatic individuals could inform public-health policy decisions and provide insight into the impact of the infection on vulnerable populations. Two Clinical and Translational Science Award (CTSA) Hubs and the NIH set forth to conduct a national seroprevalence survey to assess the infection's rate-of-spread. This partnership was able to quickly design and launch the project by leveraging established research capacities, prior experiences in large-scale, multi-site studies and a highly-skilled workforce of CTSA hubs and unique experimental capabilities at the NIH to conduct a diverse prospective, longitudinal observational cohort of 11, 382 participants who provided biospecimens and participant-reported health and behavior data. The study was completed in 16 months and benefitted from transdisciplinary teamwork, information technology innovations, multi-modal communication strategies, and scientific partnership for rigor in design and analytic methods. The lessons learned by the rapid implementation and dissemination of this national study is valuable in guiding future multi-site projects as well as preparation for other public health emergencies and pandemics.
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    Author List

  • Croker JA; Valenti S; Baus HA; Ford EW; Mathias D; Yasko L; McGaughey D; Smith T; Underwood K; Avolio J