USC students, staff and faculty needed for new COVID-19 behavioral study

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By Cristine Hall

Calling all USC students, staff and faculty: USC needs you for a new COVID-19 study.

The project, called the Trojan Pandemic Response Initiative (TPRI), will survey 8,000 students, staff and faculty and follow some of them over the course of a year to better understand attitudes and behaviors related to COVID-19 and related vaccines. The results will help the university’s ongoing efforts to minimize infections and create shareable data with other USC researchers.

Subjects will receive e-gift cards and potentially up to $100 for their contributions, depending on the extent of their participation. 

“We need students, staff and faculty who have not yet been vaccinated for this study,” said Howard Hu, MD, MPH, ScD, professor and the Flora L. Thornton Chair of the Department of Preventive Medicine at Keck School of Medicine of USC. “Time is of the essence, as the university’s vaccination campaign is already well underway.”

The study is the latest to come from USC’s COVID-19 Pandemic Research Center (CPRC), housed in the Department of Preventive Medicine at the Keck School. The study received $600,000 in funding from the Keck COVID-19 Research Fund, the USC Office of the Provost, and the USC Office of Research. 

Investigators are recruiting 8,000 subjects who will be briefly surveyed. Of that initial group, 4,000 people will undergo repeated surveys over time to gauge their evolving attitudes and behaviors in relation to infections and vaccinations. From that sub-group, 600 subjects will undergo surveys, as well as repeated collection of samples such as saliva and urine as they get their vaccinations and afterwards to understand their immunological response to the vaccines.

Participants will be 25 percent Latino, Black, and Asian — groups that have experienced higher rates of infection and mortality from COVID-19.

Extra samples will be archived in a biorepository for more planned research, such as the testing of cellular immunity and viral antigen load.

Hu is the principal investigator. Co-investigators include Lourdes Baezconde-Garbanati, PhD, professor of preventive medicine; David Conti, PhD, a professor of biostatistics in the Department of Preventive Medicine; Frank Gilliland, MD, PhD, professor of preventive medicine and Director of the CPRC; Jeffrey Klausner, MD, MPH, clinical professor of preventive medicine; Andrea Kovacs, MD, professor of pediatrics, pathology and preventive medicine; Sarah Van Orman, MD, Associate Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Chief Student Health Officer; Jennifer Unger, PhD, professor of preventive medicine and Co-Director of the CPRC; and Paul Anderson, research scientist.

For more information about the study, contact TPRI@usc.edu.