The COVID-19 pandemic has changed the way the University of Michigan works on many levels, but it also has galvanized activity across the university as a broad range of academic, research and administrative units apply their expertise to this worldwide crisis.

These synopses offer a glimpse into the variety of activity underway. Go online to follow the links at the end of each story to learn more.

U-M launches effort to collect blood samples from COVID-19 survivors, patients

The key to defeating COVID-19 might be floating in the blood of the tens of thousands of Michiganders who have recovered from the disease, and the thousands more who are still feeling its effects. Donating a few teaspoons of their blood to the University of Michigan can fuel new COVID-19 research projects at U-M and beyond. People who have tested positive for COVID-19 can express interest in donating blood samples and sharing their health information in a secure way for scientists to use in their research. More information is available at or via

Read more about this research effort.

— Kara Gavin, Michigan Medicine Department of Communication

Eleven teams receive RISE COVID-19 Education Innovation Awards

Michigan Medicine RISE — or Research. Innovation. Scholarship. Education. — recently honored 11 teams with RISE COVID-19 Education Innovation Awards in recognition of their proposals that answered the call to challenge existing education structures and develop meaningful alternatives to traditional health sciences education. RISE received 31 COVID-19 education innovation proposals from faculty, staff and learners. Proposed ideas addressed education gaps created by the pandemic with novel education interventions, adjustments to teaching modalities, and new content for delivery within science, health or health care delivery.

Read more and see a list of principal innovators and winning proposals.

— Paula T. Ross, Michigan Medicine RISE
Kevin Bergquist, Michigan Medicine Department of Communication

#FitForTheFrontLine supports health care workers

Michigan Medicine has joined a national fitness challenge to get people moving in ways that are compatible with social distancing. #FitForTheFrontLine is similar to a virtual 5K run, with participants pledging to exercise on their own time through June 14 to raise money for employees working on the front lines of the COVID-19 pandemic. But no running or walking is required. Participants can undertake any physical activity, from hopscotch and walking around the block to climbing a staircase 10 times and working out with kids for 30 minutes, three times a week. People can dedicate their workouts to front-line health care workers by posting their personal challenges on social media with the hashtag #FitForTheFrontLine, donate to health care workers and solicit donations from friends, family and social networks. Donations can be made at and will support front-line workers through the COVID-19 Philanthropic Fund.

Read more about this effort.

— Katie Whitney, Michigan Medicine Office of Development

App calculates risk of delaying cancer care during pandemic

As the COVID-19 pandemic overwhelmed health care systems across the country, doctors postponed surgery and other treatments for thousands of patients with cancer. These delays may last months, especially for those with early stage and less aggressive disease. A team of data scientists and cancer doctors from the Rogel Cancer Center and School of Public Health developed a free, web-based application to help doctors compare the long-term risk to a patient from a months-long postponement of care with the additional risk posed by potential COVID-19 infection if they undergo surgery, chemotherapy or radiation. The OncCOVID app draws on large, national cancer datasets to help assess the risk from immediate treatment versus delayed treatment.

Read more about the app.

— Ian Demsky, Rogel Cancer Center
Andrea LaFerle, School of Public Health

Medical students help develop popular pandemic course

Led largely by students, a rapidly developed course on pandemics implemented this spring is likely to become a permanent part of the Medical School curriculum. With sections on systems response, disparities, epidemiology, PPE and more, the course delves into many facets of pandemics through the lens of the unfolding COVID-19 crisis. The material went from concept to Canvas, the online classroom platform, in less than a month and is now required learning for all UMMS M2s and M3s. Participants learn about the history of pandemics; disaster response from the federal down to the local and institutional levels; health inequities exacerbated by pandemic conditions; and more. That’s just chapter one.

Read more about the pandemic course.

— Craig McCool, Global REACH

Coronavirus pandemic worsens food insecurity for low-income adults

As states started closing schools and issuing stay-home orders in March because of the coronavirus, four out of 10 low-income Americans were already struggling to afford enough food for their households, U-M researchers say. And only 18 percent of them were able to stock up enough food for two weeks, they say. Julia Wolfson and Cindy Leung of the School of Public Health measured the lack of consistent access to food and challenges to meeting basic needs due to COVID-19. The study, published in the journal Nutrients, found that 44 percent of low-income adults in the United States are food insecure and 20 percent have marginal food security, while 36 percent are food secure.

Read more about this study.

— Destiny Cook, School of Public Health