May 7, 2020, Coral Gables, FL    In response to the need for effective and efficient COVID-19 testing, the Board of Directors of the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation has approved a $100,000 gift for biomedical research at the University of Miami Miller School of Medicine in a  COVID-19 point-of-care diagnostic test being developed by Dr. Sylvia Daunert MS, PharmD, PhD, Dr. Sapna Deo, MS, PhD, Dr. Jean-Marc Zingg and their team.

Foundation Board Chair Aldo C. Busot noted the on-going relationship the foundation has with Dr. Sylvia Daunert, Chair of the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, whose lab is leading the research at the University of Miami. “In 2012, the Foundation established the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Biomedical Nanotechnology Institute (BioNIUM) and is aware of Dr. Daunert’s exceptional work.  It is timely that we respond to address this crisis which affects us all and fund this research and implementation.”

The patient-friendly test is under review by the FDA and is designed to diagnose the coronavirus in less than 30 minutes, providing critical, early detection that will help curb the spread of the disease. The test is also designed for cost-effective manufacturing that will enable mass production and deployment across the United States and around the world.

Dr. Daunert said “our lab has tremendous experience developing accurate and easily usable tests for infectious diseases such as HPV and Zika. Unlike tests that detect antibodies which can take weeks to manifest, our test is being developed to utilize molecular recognition and amplification of the target virus. This should allow for much earlier detection—within a couple days of exposure—providing critical and time-sensitive information to help curb the spread of the disease.”

 “Additionally, our test is designed to provide a read-out in a fraction of the time required for most other tests.  It has no technical hardware requirements, offers high sensitivity and a simple binary paper readout that can tell the health care provider if the patient is positive for a disease within 30 minutes.” 

Over the years the Foundation has funded three signature programs at the Miller School of Medicine, designed to transform healthcare in South Florida and beyond: the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Department of Human Genetics, the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation School Health Initiative in the Department of Pediatrics, and the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation Biomedical Nanotechnology Institute (BioNIUM). 

“The Foundation is unique in its ability to identify leadership roles in our community,” said Henri R. Ford, M.D., M.H.A., Dean and Chief Academic Officer of the Miller School of Medicine. “We are grateful for their on-going support and partnership, which will help us play a leading role in advancing research that will lead to transformative care in the fight against the COVID 19 pandemic.”

Foundation Board Chair further noted: “the Dr. John T. Macdonald Foundation recognizes the need for the Miami-Dade community, the State of Florida, and the nation to deliver more medical and technological solutions to fight the coronavirus. This gift from the Foundation in support of Dr. Sylvia Daunert and her laboratory will accelerate their important research in developing a crucial diagnostic test for early detection of COVID-19.  I urge other donors to match the $100,000 gift to the COVIC-19 Rapid Test Research Fund; “We need to fund this effort now; it is so critically important.”