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CHAMPAIGN, Illinois – The University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign received the inaugural Research Response to Community Crisis Award from the from Association of public and state-sponsored universities for its COVID-19 testing program.

The university‘s SHIELD: Target, Test, Tell program combined a saliva-based COVID-19 test protocol developed on campus with statistical modeling and a mobile app for quick results reporting and contact tracking. Students and staff were tested several times a week to maintain access to the campus building.

The approach resulted in zero COVID-19-related deaths or hospital stays in the campus community when personal operations resumed in the fall of 2020 and the virus was prevented from spreading to surrounding Champaign-Urbana residents.

“We are so proud of our innovative faculties, staff and students who mobilized to create the comprehensive SHIELD platform and ecosystem in record time,” said Vice Chancellor for Research and Innovation Susan Martinis. “We are grateful to the APLU and our peer institutions for helping us think creatively about the resources, partners, and tremendous intellectual capacity we could use in Champaign-Urbana to protect our campus and the wider community.”

The APLU is a consortium of 244 public research universities, land grant institutions, government higher education systems and affiliated organizations. She created the Research Response to Community Crisis Award “to recognize universities that have demonstrated flexibility and responsiveness by using the university’s research expertise quickly and effectively to meet community needs during times of crisis,” a statement said . The University of California, Davis, also received the award for its Healthy Davis Together campaign.

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