NYU Langone Health has been selected as the Clinical Science Core (CSC) for the National Institutes of Health’s PASC (Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 Infection) Initiative. In this role, the CSC could potentially receive up to $52 million over the full funding period to lead and integrate the research activities of clinical sites around the country studying the long-term effects of SARS-CoV-2 infection. A key feature of the PASC Initiative will be the large number of patient groups under study, designed to be fully representative of the diversity of the U.S. population.
Many people who have had COVID-19 experience symptoms—including fatigue, shortness of breath, “brain fog,” sleep disorders, fevers, gastrointestinal symptoms, anxiety, and depression—that can persist for months after their recovery from the initial illness. The goal of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) initiative is to understand this phenomenon and other sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection, the cause of COVID-19, and to find effective prevention and treatment strategies.
“We are grateful to the NIH for their support of this important mission, which is to better understand the long-term effects of COVID-19 infection, and to find new ways to avert a potentially profound public health crisis,” says Stuart D. Katz, MD, director of NYU Langone’s heart failure program and principal investigator for the PASC CSC.
Congress provided $1.15 billion in funding over 4 years for NIH to support research into the prolonged health consequences of SARS-CoV-2 infection in December of 2020. According to the NIH, the PASC Consortium of the initiative will seek to answer several basic questions:
- What does the spectrum of recovery from SARS-CoV-2 infection look like across the population?
- How many people continue to have symptoms of COVID-19, or even develop new symptoms, after acute SARS-CoV-2 infection?
- What are the underlying biological causes of these prolonged symptoms?
- What makes some people, but not others, vulnerable to prolonged effects?
- Does SARS-CoV-2 infection trigger changes in the body that increase the risk of other conditions, such as chronic heart or brain disorders?
A central part of the PASC Initiative will be the creation of the SARS-CoV-2 Recovery Cohort, comprising multiple patient groups to be followed over time. Studies of the Recovery Cohort will aim to characterize the long-term effects of infection in a diverse set of people and the trajectory of their symptoms over time. The initiative also will support studies from other data resources such as electronic health records and patient specimens to better understand the underlying mechanisms of PASC.
The PASC CSC at NYU Langone will be led by an interdisciplinary principal investigator team composed of senior faculty, including Dr. Katz; Leora Horwitz, MD, director of the Center for Healthcare Innovation and Delivery Science (co-principal investigator); and Andrea B. Troxel, ScD, director of the Division of Biostatistics (co-principal investigator) in the Department of Population Health.
“Congratulation to these leaders, who were among the first to acknowledge the collective professional expertise and the technical skills made by countless NYU Langone collaborators in support of an initiative of this magnitude and importance to the health of our patients,” says Dafna Bar-Sagi, PhD, the Saul J. Farber Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Pharmacology and Chief Scientific Officer at NYU Langone.