Other Covid Research | NYU Tandon School of Engineering

Other Covid Research

hand applying finger prick test

Charting disparities in care

Department of Computer Science and Engineering at NYU Tandon;
Department of Biostatistics at NYU School of Global Public Health

At the start of the pandemic, researchers documented serious racial and ethnic disparities in risk of infection and hospital outcomes. Would similar disparities be evident, Chunara wondered, in those who accessed COVID-19 care via telemedicine.

Using electronic health record data from NYU Langone, she and her fellow researchers discovered that Black patients were not accessing care through telemedicine at the same rate as white patients, and that mean income and household size were also significantly related to telemedicine use. The findings are important, not only because they highlight the fact that the most vulnerable among us may not have access to the same digital tools as others, but because population-level inferences (and by extension public policies) are often drawn from the biased data generated by those tools.

The roots of healthcare disparities are complex, but Chunara’s work could help inform the design of remote medical technology and promote digital health equity for all.

Engineering a dual-purpose test

Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering

According to the World Health Organization, “Diagnostic testing for COVID-19 is critical to tracking the virus, understanding epidemiology, informing case management, and to suppressing transmission.” So, what if there were a quick at-home test for the virus that was as easy and affordable as an at-home pregnancy test? Montclare is close to making that scenario a reality.

Widely recognized for her work in protein engineering, Montclare explains that while detecting infection is crucial, identifying immunity is equally important to keeping outbreaks in check, especially as businesses reopen. To that end, she is helping create a test strip requiring just a drop of blood from a simple finger prick; the strip — coated with proteins specially engineered to grab onto significant targets will recognize either the virus or particular antibodies that are mounted by an individual’s immune response, making this a uniquely dual-purpose test.

What we can learn from wastewater

Department of Civil and Urban Engineering

SARS-CoV-2, the coronavirus strain that causes COVID-19, passes through the body and ends up in sewage, so cities across the nation already have facilities that could help officials track the spread of the disease locally: sewage treatment plants. Monitoring the concentration of the virus in wastewater can be more comprehensive than individual testing and can signal when a hotspot is developing.

Silverman is part of a team that developed a “startup blueprint” for municipalities that details best practices for sample collection, analysis, and interpretation, and speedy and appropriate translation and communication of results to public health decision-makers.

The Center for Cybersecurity

Since 2018 Tandon’s Center for Cybersecurity has hosted and updated the Index of Cyber Security, polling practitioners and experts around the world on cybersecurity threat-related issues. In March, the index revealed an 11% rise in phishing concerns, correlating, closely with the dramatic rise in the number of people working from home because of COVID-19. Other risk indicators also rose during the month. Phishing — in which attackers typically target users via fake emails to obtain access to computers and networks — was followed by increases in criminal attacks (up 8%) and attacks against endpoint devices like computers or mobile phones (up 7%).


Connected Cities with Smart Transportation

The COVID-19 outbreak dramatically changed the process of getting around in New York and beyond, and C2SMART researchers have built an interactive dashboard that allows policymakers and researchers to examine the impact of the outbreak on mass transit, commercial supply chains, personal travel, and more — as it unfolds.

Drawing upon toll data, transit ridership, travel time, weigh-in motion trucking data, crash rate, and parking citations, among other sources, the dashboard is regularly updated with new data, metrics, and visualizations as they become available.

Among the phenomenon documented up until now:

  • An increase in non-shared modes of travel such as bike/scooter and a decrease in shared modes such as public transportation and ride-sharing
  • A net decrease in home-to-work trips due to increased adoption of working from home
  • A reduction in tourism
  • A reduction in travel due to systemic unemployment and economic slowdown

C2SMART is studying how these shifts could affect our transportation systems in terms of useability, operating and capital budgets, and emergency preparedness, right now and as we move into the future.