The UofSC Office of the Vice President for Research recently announced the recipients of its special internal funding initiative to support COVID-19 research and scholarship. BDHSC is pleased to announce that of the 42 projects funded, BDHSC faculty serve as PI for 10 projects and Co-I for 7 different projects:

1. Dr. Amir Karami (Social Media Core)

Title: Explore Diseases and Chemicals in COVID-19 Scholarly Articles with Data Science Techniques

Summary: On March 16, 2020, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy issued a call to action to develop new text and data mining techniques that can help answer scientific questions in the COVID-19 Open Research Dataset (CORD-19) of scholarly literature about COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2, and the Coronavirus group. The traditional methods are time-consuming and labor-intensive. Therefore, computational methods can help the experts to find patterns in this dataset with more than 47,000 research papers. This project will develop a platform to analyze CORD-19 to detect and investigate diseases and chemicals and explore their trend from 1970 to 2020.

2. Dr. Ben Schooley (Technology Hub)

Title: Virtual Health Visit Innovations to Reduce COVID-19 Exposures and Optimize Patient Care

Summary: Benefits of telehealth include improved resource utilization and access to care, and reduced risk of spreading infectious disease. In rapid response to the COVID-19 pandemic, Prisma Health offered free synchronous virtual health visits to anyone needing COVID-19 screening and implemented telehealth for all first line primary care visits. This study analyzes these technology services; their impacts on patient and provider exposure to the virus and healthcare utilization; and socio-technical innovations created during the response. A mixed-method approach will be employed to analyze EHR data and operational staff perspectives. Results are expected to provide important insights on the design of telehealth services and technology innovations for the future.

3. Dr. Brie Turner-McGrievy (Social Media Core)

Title: COVID-19 Pandemic: Effects on Participants’ Physical Activity, Diet, and Stress in the Nutritious Eating with Soul Study

Summary: Infectious disease outbreaks such as the current coronavirus-19 pandemic, mirror natural disasters in the deleterious health effects that are incurred on populations. This mixed-methods study will (1) examine participant satisfaction with the transition of delivering in-person interventions using e-learning environments and (2) assess the health impacts (i.e., psychosocial, physical, and behavioral) of the coronavirus-19 pandemic among African Americans currently participating in a dietary lifestyle intervention. Findings will benefit researchers in a constantly changing environment.

4. Dr. Ehsan Mohammadi (Social Media Core)

Title: Detecting and Investigating COVID-19 Misleading Information on YouTube

Summary: During the COVID-19 pandemic, people have increasingly looked online for information on how to protect themselves and their loved ones from the virus. YouTube is one the most popular sites for such information. This research will use a new automatic method to identify COVID-19 videos on YouTube and utilize different sources of data to study the features of misleading and non-misleading information in a systematic way. Results can be shared with academic and general publics, as well as with the medical community, strategic, and health communicators who may be creating health-related content to be shared on YouTube in the future.

5. Dr. Guoshuai Cai (Genomics Core)

Title: COVID-19 Severe Progression Prediction with AI Approaches from Multi-dimensional Data

Summary: Precisely identifying COVID-19 patients with high risk of malignant progression is critical to optimize the initial disease triage and resource allocation. This project aims to integrate multi-dimensional information from publicly available large-scale healthy people genomics data and COVID-19 patient data (including blood molecular features, plasma cytokine levels, clinical parameters and chest CT imaging) and use AI approaches to achieve accurate prediction of COVID-19 severe progression in later days. We expect that the outcomes from this project will provide an effective screening tool for high-risk patients and generate great insights on risk factors into COVID-19 etiology, treatment, prevention, and prognosis.

6. Dr. Homayoun Valafar (Genomics Core)

Title: Understanding the Molecular Function of Nonstructural Protein 1 in COVID-19 Infection Using Computational Modeling and Proteomic Studies

Summary: The emergence of multiple zoonotic coronaviruses incapacitated our way of life in the past two decades. As of April 8th, 2020, the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) infected 1,455,855 individuals and claimed 83,666 lives in just four months. Successful treatment and speedy prevention of COVID-19 entails an in-depth understanding of its life cycle inside the host cell. To rapidly decipher the viral life cycle, especially virus-host communication, we propose a synergistic approach to combine proteomic data with computational modeling of protein folding, surface mapping, and molecular docking to expand our understanding of other coronaviruses to COVID-19

7. Dr. Melissa Nolan (Social Media Core)

Title: Clinical, Molecular, and Epidemiologic Investigations of COVID-19 Transmission in the Peripartum/Postpartum and Perinatal/Postnatal Setting

Summary: The first US congenital COVID-19 case was recently identified at Prisma Upstate. This combined with recent reports that pregnancy is a significant comorbidity for severe disease, warrants further investigation. Our proposal brings together clinical and scientific experts to assess 1) the disease burden and health outcomes of pregnant women, recent mothers, and newborns, and 2) the viral shedding kinetics in whole blood, nasal swabs, breastmilk, and other specimens prospectively collected from infected patients. Results will contribute to clinical guidelines for breastfeeding infected mothers and distancing guidelines for infected mothers/newborns, and scientific publications on congenital transmission and maternal-child health outcomes.

8. Dr. Susan Cutter (Geospatial Core)

Title: Disparities in Response, Impact, and Recovery from the COVID-19 Pandemic in the United States

Summary: This project examines the inequality in response, impact, and livelihood recovery for the millions of Americans affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Media reports suggest the pandemic is increasing known health disparities by disproportionately affecting communities of color and lower-income communities. The project analyzes spatial and temporal data on response and impacts (testing, confirmed cases, protective action guidance, mortality) to ascertain whether the observed county geographic patterns correspond to underlying social vulnerability and disaster resilience. The research further examines geographic disparities in livelihood recovery, especially so-called “cold spots”, where unemployment does not return to its pre-pandemic levels.

9. Dr. Xiaoming Li (MPI)

Title: The Impact of COVID-19 on HIV Treatment and Care: A Multilevel Data Approach Investigation

Summary: The COVID-19 pandemic has drastically interrupted routine healthcare delivery, including HIV treatment and care. The proposed study aims to: 1) examine the scope of HIV treatment service interruptions; (2) examine the impact of such interruptions on HIV care access and HIV treatment outcomes; and 3) identify areas of improvement and strategies of preparedness at both provider and system levels in response to future public health crises. We will accomplish these aims by collecting and analyzing multilevel data including an on-line survey among healthcare providers, in-depth interviews with healthcare system leadership, and state-level aggregated data on HIV incidence and viral load.

10. Dr. Zhenlong Li (Geospatial Core)

Title: A Preliminary Study of using Social Media to Monitor the Spatial Propagation of COVID-19 and Quantify the Effectiveness of the Control Measures

Summary: Human movement is an important driver of the geographic spread of infectious diseases, which is especially true for COVID-19 that can be transmitted during the incubation period. Understanding human movement could help us gain better insights into the current infectious risk and future risk at the population level. This project aims to conduct a preliminary study of developing a novel big data-based approach to 1) monitor spatial propagation of the virus on different geographic scales, 2) gauge the compliance of social distancing, and 3) quantify the effectiveness of control measures in containing the spread of the virus. More comprehensive studies needed from this preliminary effort will have broad impacts in diverse fields where human movement plays a role, such as infectious disease transmission in public health (focus of this project), transportation, and tourism.


In addition, BDHSC faculty are also serving as Co-I on 7 separate projects:

1. Dr. Banky Olatosi (MPI/Business Hub) and Dr. Xiaoming Li (MPI) — “A Preliminary Study of using Social Media to Monitor the Spatial Propagation of COVID-19 and Quantify the Effectiveness of the Control Measures”

2. Dr. Sharon Weissman (EHR Core) and Dr. Shan Qiao (Social Media Core) — The Impact of COVID-19 on HIV Treatment and Care: A Multilevel Data Approach Investigation

3. Dr. Sharon Weissman (EHR Core) — South Carolina COVID-19 Treatment Outcomes Registry

4. Dr. Peiying Hung (EHR Core) — Impacts of Social Distancing Practice on Vulnerable Pregnant and Postpartum Women During the Outbreak of COVID-19: Cross-Sectional Electronic Surveys

5. Dr. Spencer Moore (Social Media Core) — The Influence of Social Networks, Acculturative Stress, and Personalismo on COVID-19 Coping Responses among Latino Adults

6. Dr. Qian Wang (Bio-Nanomaterials Core) — SARS-CoV-2 Transmission: Influence of Surfaces and Flow at Boundaries on Deposition, Adhesion and Persistence

7. Dr. Melissa Nolan (Social Media Core) — Explore Diseases and Chemicals in COVID-19 Scholarly Articles with Data Science Techniques