Dr. David Harris Honored for Role in COVID-19 Response

David Harris, PhD, MS, University of Arizona College of Medicine – Tucson professor of immunobiology and director of the UArizona Health Sciences Biorepository, has received a 2021 Leader of the Year award in the COVID-19 Response & Management category from the Arizona Capitol Times.

“The recognition of the work that we have been able to do in this arena is the recognition of our team, not just one individual,” Dr. Harris said. “When we started this work, we shifted our daily efforts to emphasize collecting and biobanking samples from infected individuals to better understand the pandemic and its seriousness.”

David Harris, PhD, MSAt the outset of the COVID-19 crisis in Arizona, Dr. Harris was quick to respond, heading a team at the Biorepository that created tens of thousands of test kits to address a severe shortage. Starting in February 2020, the university’s sample collection kits expanded the availability of testing for suspected COVID-19 cases and helped researchers understand the reach of the virus in Arizona. The lab produced thousands of PCR test kits per week until May 2020, when testing became more easily accessible.

Later, his lab validated and implemented a rapid antigen test, which was used on campus for faculty, staff, athletes and students. From May 2020 to May 2021, campus officials tested more than 250,000 individuals, often several thousand per day. The ability to test easily and often helped the university drop its infection rate from 17% in the beginning of the pandemic to less than 1% by early 2021.

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Release Date: 
10/08/2021 - 12:30pm
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