2020 showcased what teamwork, determination, and innovation in the scientific community could do in the face of the greatest public health crisis in recent memory. Under Operation Warp Speed (OWS), biotech companies, CDMOs, and supply chain partners achieved what was once thought to be impossible: developing, commercializing, and distributing a COVID-19 vaccine in less than a year. The Geneva Foundation stepped in to play a crucial role in the fight against COVID-19 across several areas, including conducting clinical trials for OWS, studying novel antibody treatments, and supporting innovation in areas like telemedicine.
Geneva’s capabilities were leveraged in the pursuit of scientific advancements in other research areas as well. Further advancing 3D bioprinting, Geneva supported a successful 3D-printed test print of a knee meniscus in space and launched the 4DBio3 On-Demand Blood Program to revolutionize trauma care. To better understand noise and hearing loss among service members and veterans, Geneva researchers at the Hearing Center of Excellence studied noise and chemical exposure. The MIRROR team facilitated the first tri-service meeting to streamline 11 musculoskeletal injury protocols – just to name a few.
As we leave this past year behind us, we look back at the most-read news stories that appeared on genevaUSA.org in 2020.
The most-read news story in 2020 came from Geneva’s President & CEO Elise Huszar. In April, Geneva released a statement alerting partners and collaborators on the organization’s response to COVID-19. The response included Geneva’s history of experience in supporting infectious disease research, the ability to benefit from partnerships with existing experts, and the status of ongoing and upcoming research programs. The letter reaffirmed to stakeholders that Geneva would leverage its proven track record in advancing science to address this unprecedented global health threat.
The second most-read story announced the launch of the USU-4DBio3: 4-Defense Biotechnology, Biomanufacturing, and Bioprinting Center (USU-4DBio3 Center) On-Demand Blood Program to deliver on-demand blood and revolutionize military trauma care. The program’s innovative biotechnology efforts have improved large-scale cell expansion at a low cost, resulting in the production of red blood cells or blood products for those injured on the battlefield. This adaption for use near the point-of-need is a game-changer and provides the best healthcare, regardless of location.
In June, Geneva featured an interview with Dr. Andriy Batchinsky and his quest to introduce modern lung support and renal replacement technologies in a wearable format and without the need for mechanical ventilators. Dr. Batchinsky’s invention permits injured warfighters to walk, talk and actively recuperate, and for many, to remain operationally functional on the battlefield.
In May, Geneva announced 11 streamlined ‘Tri-Service Post-Operative Rehabilitation Guidelines’ for hip, knee, foot, ankle, and shoulder injury rehabilitation in military healthcare. Musculoskeletal injuries are the primary reason for medical discharge from those who serve in the U.S. military. The work was facilitated by the Musculoskeletal Injury Rehabilitation Research for Operational Readiness (MIRROR) program at the Uniformed Services University.
Dr. Andriy Batchinsky was awarded Geneva’s Researcher of the Year award in November. As a leader in military medicine, Dr. Batchinsky is pioneering new treatments for trauma care and lung injuries both on and off the battlefield.
In late April, Geneva, in partnership with the Uniformed Services University, TechShot, Inc, and nScrypt, successfully completed the first 3D printing test experiment of a human knee meniscus onboard the International Space Station U.S. National Laboratory (ISS National Lab). Astronauts onboard the station conducted this pilot research experiment that tested the materials and computer-aided design developed by the 4D Bio3 team.
- Geneva Scientist Part of International Consortium Targeting Lethal Viruses Including Coronavirus with Antibody Therapies
In May, Geneva Senior Research Scientist, Andrew Herbert, PhD, who is a part of a consortium of over 20 investigators from across the globe called the Prometheus Group, recognized the immediate need to address the COVID-19 pandemic early on. Prometheus received a $22 million grant from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in April 2019 to develop antibody-based therapies for tick-borne Crimean-Congo hemorrhagic fever virus and orthohantaviruses. Prometheus turned their attention to COVID-19 by collecting cells from coronavirus survivors and isolated antibodies to evaluate in cell culture systems.
- Geneva Telemedicine Team Selected to Rapidly Develop and Deploy National Telecritical Care Network for COVID-19
Telehealth and telemedicine became the healthcare buzzwords in 2020 for good reason. Geneva and the Telemedical Research for Operational Support (TR4OS) program of Madigan Army Medical Center were selected in June to create the Disaster Telemedicine Response System (DISTRESS). DISTRESS is a distributed, comprehensive telecritical care system to make critical care resources more widely available from the bench to bedsides anywhere. Its framework will provide urgently needed assistance during natural disasters, mass casualty events, or other medical emergencies such as COVID-19.
At the end of November, Geneva published an update concerning its response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Under Operation Warp Speed, Geneva is supporting the conduct of clinical trials for two lead COVID-19 vaccines at six military treatment facilities nationwide.
Towards the end of 2020, Geneva announced the expansion of the USU-4DBio3 Center with the addition of 4,037 square feet at its offsite facility to support the On-Demand Blood program. The USU-4D Bio3 facility is 10,267 square feet and includes a biofabrication suite, tissue culture room, bioreactor and sensor facility, biotechnology incubator suite, medical/surgical simulation room, and distance education and training facility.