Researchers in the School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences scaled down their work on bacterial infectious diseases to focus on the community's immediate need amid the COVID-19 pandemic. This included helping the hospital workers on the forefront with needed items to keep them safe – masks, gowns and hand sanitizers. Organized by ACBS faculty members, professor Gayatri Vedantam and associate professor VK Viswanathan, the project included research scientist Jennifer Roxas; research specialists Shylaja Ramamurthy and Rachel Claus-Walker; graduate students Anusha Harishankar, Farhan Anwar and Shobitha Jillela; and undergraduate researchers Alison Williams and Kayley Manuel.
To prepare the hand sanitizer, they followed World Health Organization recommended guidelines, using ingredients available in their respective laboratories. Their colleagues Arun Dhar, Sadhana Ravishankar, Kerry Cooper, Michael Riggs, Deborah Schaefer, Zelieann Craig, Connie Carter, and Jennifer Teske quickly jumped in to support the effort by providing gallons of chemicals. With Patricia Stock donating hundreds of new, travel-size bottles and assisting with collecting chemicals and PPE.
In response to an urgent call for donations to the Navajo Nation, which has been hit especially hard by the pandemic, the project was able to provide a donation of non-perishable food items to accompany the sanitizer delivery with colleagues Dan Engeljohn and Jennifer Roxas acquiring and donating many of the food items.
"Our faculty's dedication to ensuring the resilience and health of our communities, people, environment and economies is exemplary," said Shane Burgess, UArizona vice president of agriculture, life and veterinary sciences and Cooperative Extension. "Dr. Vedantam and Dr. Viswanathan have shown selfless commitment addressing an urgent need as we all work to 'flatten the curve' during this crisis."