Representative John Katko (R, NY-24) has introduced a bill that would provide additional funding for COVID-19 and pandemic preparedness research at academic medical centers SUNY Upstate Medical University and the University of Rochester.
The two universities were chosen because they demonstrated a high level of expertise in COVID-19 research. The bill, entitled the Pandemic Response Centers of Excellence Act, would allow the US Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to award federal funds to these academic medical centers.
The bipartisan bill was introduced to “facilitate and expedite research to better understand COVID-19 variants, improve COVID-19 patient care and survivor recovery, expand mental health resources for healthcare workers, address healthcare disparities, advance vaccine research, and bolster future pandemic preparedness.”
Katko introduced the legislation alongside US Representative Nydia Velázquez (D, NY-07).
Empowering Academic Medical Centers Against COVID-19
Katko pointed out the urgency for more answers to the coronavirus pandemic and how the extra funding would expedite the work of local medical centers.
“Medical centers like SUNY Upstate Medical University and the University of Rochester have been at the forefront of our pandemic response and recovery efforts. The critical research being done by our academic medical centers has not only informed public health guidance to keep us safe but also advanced several life-saving medical breakthroughs,” he explained.
Chief Executive Officer of the University of Rochester and the Dean of the School of Medicine and Dentistry, Mark B Taubman, voiced his support for the bill and highlighted how academic medical centers “have a special calling to address complex challenges.”
“The COVID-19 and Pandemic Centers of Excellence Act will help to equip institutions like the University of Rochester Medical Center with the tools necessary to continue to learn and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic while utilizing our longstanding expertise and scientific leadership in vaccine technology, immunology, and infectious diseases to ensure our nation is well-positioned to respond to the next public health threat,” Taubman said.