Sally Hodder, MD, knew that West Virginia could be a leader in COVID-19 research, even in the early stages of the pandemic in the U.S. As early as March 2020, teams at the West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute (WVCTSI) led by Dr. Hodder and WVU Medicine were hard at work to ensure that data from patients across the state could be analyzed to develop the most impactful research possible. The teams built a COVID-19 patient data registry that contained diagnoses, procedures, labs, medications, and outcomes for WVU Medicine patients tested for COVID-19. This registry became the foundation for this new funding award – a $1.5 million grant to lead a multi-state consortium within the National COVID Cohort Collaborative (N3C).
Dr. Hodder is the WVCTSI director and associate vice president for clinical and translational research at West Virginia University. She saw enormous value in the initial West Virginia COVID-19 registry developed by Wes Kimble and his team in collaboration with WVU Medicine and took the project to the national stage by securing the funding to develop and lead the consortium.
“The collaboration with WVU Medicine on this effort has been top-notch. Ilo Romero, Dr. David Rich, and the WVU Medicine team are fabulous partners driving better patient care through data analytics here at WVU,” Hodder said. Romero serves as vice president and assistant chief information officer, and Rich serves as the chief medical information officer, both with WVU Medicine.
Leading the initiative to create a consortium with seven other Centers for Clinical and Translational Research (CTRs), all of which were enthusiastic about a collective data source, Hodder successfully applied for funding to support contribution of clinical data from the CTR consortium to the N3C, a data source being developed by the National Institutes of Health. N3C was established by the National Center for Data to Health in partnership with the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) to build a centralized national data resource for the study of COVID-19. Dr. Hodder is leading the IDeA-CTR consortium within the N3C.
“Ensuring inclusion of patient data from outside urban centers in the national database is extremely important,” said Hodder. “Our state, as well as other IDeA states, face unique challenges not faced by large metropolitan areas across the U.S. By ensuring our cases are included, we are making sure rural patients are accurately represented in the dataset that will be used to answer important questions regarding COVID-19 patient outcomes.”
Inclusion of data from West Virginia and other IDeA CTR states including Delaware, Louisiana, Maine, Mississippi, Nebraska, Oklahoma, and Rhode Island is important because they represent a collection of diverse and historically underserved and underrepresented populations. West Virginia, for example, ranks third behind Florida and Maine in having the oldest population and has a high prevalence of obesity, hypertension, and diabetes – conditions associated with an increased likelihood of COVID-19 mortality. Critically important, is a large, granular dataset that can examine associations of improved outcomes with various treatment.
Hodder advises that an essential component of this new funding is support for engagement of CTR investigators to use N3C to answer research questions related to COVID-19. “With access to this data, we will be able to leverage the incredible scientific minds all across our state and the CTR Network, answering research questions that directly relate to the populations for which our institutions are providing care,” said Hodder. “As we learn more and more about this new virus, having the most current and comprehensive data will be an invaluable tool with which to fight this pandemic.”
This grant is one of many recent initiatives from WVCTSI to address the COVID-19 pandemic. A total of 15 COVID-19 research projects have been internally funded to-date, spanning the clinical and translational science spectrum. More information on all of WVCTSI’s COVID-19 initiatives can be found here.
WVCTSI is funded by an IDeA Clinical and Translational grant from the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (U54GM104942) to support the mission of building clinical and translational research infrastructure and capacity to impact health disparities in West Virginia.