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Lauren Brinkley-Rubinstein, PhD, will lead this two-year National Institutes of Health project for COVID-19 testing and prevention in correctional facilities, as part of the NIH Rapidly Accelerating Diagnostics Program.

Lauren Brinkley-Rubinstein, PhD, assistant professor in the UNC Department of Social Medicine, will lead a two-year, $5 million National Institutions of Health project titled “COVID-19 Testing and Prevention in Correctional Settings,” in collaboration with researchers at Yale University and Brown University.

The first aim of this project, which is part of the NIH Rapidly Accelerating Diagnostics Program, is to identify ethical concerns and potential solutions for COVID-19 testing and vaccine strategies in correctional facilities using a community-engaged strategy that includes people with history of incarceration, historians, legal experts, and public health scientists.

The second aim is to characterize incidence of COVID-19, disease progression, and related-outcomes and effectiveness of testing and contact tracing – among staff and people who are incarcerated – in correctional facilities.

“Correctional facilities have become the epicenter of the COVID-19 epidemic, with nine of the 10 largest single site outbreaks occurring in jails and prisons. Understanding how best to implement testing and vaccine strategies in these settings is absolutely essential for flattening the curve,” said Brinkley-Rubinstein, who is a core faculty member of the UNC Center for Health Equity Research. “This grant will determine what the best COVID-19 mitigation strategies are in these settings and will lay the groundwork for vaccine implementation as well.

UNC Media Contact: Mark Derewicz, 919-923-0959