COVID-19 Research News and Events

Princeton researchers are applying their skills and abilities to tackling the COVID-19 pandemic in a variety of ways. See some of the many ways that the campus has responded.

Our COVID-19 vaccines would not exist without this unsung Princeton technology
May 2, 2022
Author
Written by Scott Lyon, Office of Engineering Communications

It might not look like much — a plastic box that fits in the hand, with tiny tubes jutting out the top and bottom. Too simple to be cutting edge. Too humble to save so many lives.

But for 20 years, researchers in Robert Prud’homme’s lab have fine-tuned this little box that has revolutionized drug manufacturing, enabling everything…

CDC Director Walensky visits Princeton to talk with students, tour COVID-19 testing lab
March 25, 2022
Author
Written by Emily Aronson, Office of Communications

Dr. Rochelle Walensky, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), visited Princeton March 24 to tour the University’s COVID-19 testing laboratory and speak about her public health career during a lecture organized by members of the Class of 2022.

Walensky said there is still a lot of work needed to fight the…

Deep-learning diagnoses: Edge AI detects COVID-19 from smartwatch sensors
Feb. 28, 2022
Author
Written by Molly Sharlach, Office of Engineering Communications
Combining questions about a person’s health with data from smartwatch sensors, a new app developed using research at Princeton University can predict within minutes whether someone is infected with COVID-19.
Princeton researchers discover new strategy to encourage vaccinations and masking
Sept. 21, 2021
Author
Written by Liz Fuller-Wright, Office of Communications

In the face of a global pandemic, with more than 200 million global infections and 4 million deaths, and despite unprecedented efforts by public health officials, celebrities and influencers to convince everyone to wear masks and get vaccinated as soon possible, the results are mixed.

Now, two Princeton researchers have discovered an…

Vaccine stockpiling by nations could lead to increase in COVID-19 cases, novel variant emergence
Aug. 18, 2021
Author
Written by Morgan Kelly, High Meadows Environmental Institute

The allocation of COVID-19 vaccine between countries has thus far tended toward vaccine nationalism, wherein countries stockpile vaccines to prioritize access for their citizenry over equitable vaccine sharing.

The extent of vaccine nationalism, however, may strongly impact global trajectories of COVID-19 case numbers and increase the…

New survey of researchers finds high compliance with COVID-19 protective measures
April 21, 2021
Author
Written by Catherine Zandonella, Office of the Dean for Research

A new survey of Princeton researchers has found strong compliance with the University’s guidelines designed to protect health and safety during the pandemic.

Acknowledging the tremendous efforts of on-campus researchers and the resulting low case counts, the University continues to emphasize continued vigilance and adherence to

COVID-19 reduces access to opioid dependency treatment for new patients
April 15, 2021
Author
Written by Aimee Bronfeld, Center for Health and Wellbeing, Princeton School of Public and International Affairs

COVID-19 has been associated with increases in opioid overdose deaths, which may be in part because the pandemic limited access to buprenorphine, a treatment used for opioid dependency, according to a new study led by Princeton University researchers.

Princeton technology could help improve COVID-19 vaccines
March 16, 2021
Author
Written by Rachel Nuwer for the Office of Engineering Communications

A new technology being developed by Princeton University researchers and alumni could offer a more effective and robust delivery method for COVID-19 vaccines.

Compared to current vaccines, the technology, which relies on a new type of nanoparticle, could introduce five times as much of the vaccine’s active ingredient, mRNA, into…

How we can use psychological principles to foster collaboration in the fight against COVID-19
Feb. 24, 2021
Author
Written by Liana Wait, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

COVID-19 can be thought of as a game of chicken, except instead of driving head-on towards each other and betting the other person will swerve at the last minute, we’re going out when we should be staying home and foregoing social distancing, masks and hygiene measures.

“If we can rely on other people to follow the rules, we can get…

True toll of coronavirus on sub-Saharan Africa may be obscured by tremendous variability in risk factors and surveillance
Feb. 17, 2021
Author
Written by Morgan Kelly, High Meadows Environmental Institute

One early feature of reporting on the coronavirus pandemic was the perception that sub-Saharan Africa was largely being spared the skyrocketing infection and death rates that were disrupting nations around the world.

While still seemingly mild, the true toll of the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, on the countries of sub-Saharan Africa…

Adherence to health precautions, not climate, the biggest factor driving wintertime COVID-19 outbreaks
Feb. 9, 2021
Author
Written by Morgan Kelly, High Meadows Environmental Institute

Wintertime outbreaks of COVID-19 have been largely driven by whether people adhere to control measures such as mask wearing and social distancing, according to a study published Feb. 8 in Nature Communications by Princeton University researchers. Climate and population immunity…

Beyond ventilators: Princeton engineers design, build and program a noninvasive breathing system for COVID-19 patients
Jan. 29, 2021
Author
Written by John Sullivan, Office of Engineering Communications; Catherine Zandonella, Office of the Dean for Research

On April 1, 2020, as the pandemic threatened to overwhelm area hospitals, Andrew Leifer was looking for a way to help. The Princeton University physicist connected with doctors at the University of Pennsylvania Health System in Philadelphia who were working to prevent a looming shortage in machines used to keep patients…

Engineering and artificial intelligence combine to safeguard COVID-19 patients
Jan. 26, 2021
Author
Written by John Sullivan, Office of Engineering Communications

Spurred by the demands of the COVID-19 pandemic, researchers at Princeton and Google are applying mechanical engineering and artificial intelligence to increase the availability and effectiveness of ventilation treatments worldwide.

Ventilators and their support equipment are expensive and complex devices that require expert attention…

Princeton researchers study the many impacts of COVID-19
Jan. 20, 2021
Author
Written by Catherine Zandonella, Office of the Dean for Research

Within days of shutting down their laboratories in response to the COVID-19 pandemic in March 2020, Princeton researchers were asking how they could help.

“Many members of the Princeton faculty reached out with requests for opportunities to use their knowledge, ideas and skills to assist in combating the COVID-19 pandemic,” said Dean…

COVID-19 Reduced U.S. life expectancy, especially among Black and Latino populations
Jan. 15, 2021
Author
Written by Jenesse Miller, University of Southern California; Edited by B. Rose Huber, Princeton School of Public and International Affairs

The Covid-19 pandemic, which claimed more than 336,000 lives in the United States in 2020, has significantly affected life expectancy, University of Southern California (USC) and Princeton University

Forecasting the next COVID-19
Dec. 14, 2020
Author
Written by Jerimiah Oetting, for the Office of the Dean for Research

Princeton disease ecologist C. Jessica Metcalf and Harvard physician and epidemiologist Michael Mina say that predicting disease could become as commonplace as predicting the weather. The Global Immunological Observatory, like a weather center forecasting a tornado or hurricane, would…

In pandemic, Princeton graduate students and faculty raced to create innovative protections for hospital staff
Dec. 7, 2020
Author
Written by The Office of Communications

When a local hospital experienced a surge in coronavirus patients last spring, it tapped Princeton University researchers for urgent solutions to help protect its healthcare workers.

Since then, University labs have delivered more than 3,000 reusable face shields to hospital staff in the emergency department and other areas of Penn…

COVID-19 shutdowns disproportionately affected low-income Black households
Nov. 30, 2020
Author
Written by B. Rose Huber, Princeton School of Public and International Affairs

The alarming rate at which COVID-19 has killed Black Americans has highlighted the deeply embedded racial disparities in the U.S. health care system.

Princeton researchers now report that low-income Black households also experienced greater job loss, more food and medicine insecurity, and higher indebtedness in the early months of the…

Large, delayed outbreaks of endemic diseases possible following COVID-19 controls
Nov. 9, 2020
Author
Written by Morgan Kelly, High Meadows Environmental Institute

Measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 through non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) such as mask wearing and social distancing are a key tool in combatting the impact of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. These actions also have greatly reduced incidence of many other diseases, including influenza and respiratory syncytial virus (RSV).

Invention sparked by COVID-19 pandemic safely disinfects surfaces continuously
Oct. 12, 2020
Author
Written by Larry Bernard, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory

An invention to apply plasma to frequently touched items for continuous disinfection could provide a safe and effective, non-chemical way to reduce pathogens on various surfaces such as keypads, escalator handrails and other high-touch surfaces, Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) inventors say.

How exactly do we spread droplets as we talk? Engineers found out.
Oct. 12, 2020
Author
Written by Adam Hadhazy, Office of Engineering Communications

For the first time, researchers have directly visualized how speaking produces and expels droplets of saliva into the air. The smallest droplets can be inhaled by other people and are a primary way that respiratory infections like COVID-19 spread from person to person.

Using high-speed imaging, the researchers showed that when our…

Research shows conversation quickly spreads droplets more than six feet inside buildings
Oct. 1, 2020
Author
Written by John Sullivan, Office of Engineering Communications

With implications for the transmission of diseases like COVID-19, researchers have found that ordinary conversation creates a conical, "jet-like" airflow that quickly carries a spray of tiny droplets from a speaker’s mouth across meters of an interior space.

“People should recognize that they have an effect around them,” said

Largest COVID-19 contact tracing study to date finds children key to spread, evidence of superspreaders
Sept. 30, 2020
Author
Written by Morgan Kelly, Princeton Environmental Institute

A study of more than a half-million people in India who were exposed to the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 suggests that the virus’ continued spread is driven by only a small percentage of those who become infected.

Furthermore, children and young adults were found to be potentially much more important to transmitting the virus —…

Princeton researchers report high level of compliance with on-campus health and safety protocols
Sept. 22, 2020
Author
Written by Catherine Zandonella, Office of the Dean for Research

A survey of Princeton researchers who returned this summer to on-campus laboratory-based activities found a high level of compliance with the University's health and safety protocols.

The anonymous survey, conducted in late July, asked researchers to report how often they and their colleagues adhered to University guidelines on mask…

Long-term COVID-19 containment will be shaped by strength and duration of natural, vaccine-induced immunity
Sept. 21, 2020
Author
Written by Morgan Kelly, Princeton Environmental Institute

New research suggests that the impact of natural and vaccine-induced immunity will be key factors in shaping the future trajectory of the global coronavirus pandemic, known as COVID-19. In particular, a vaccine capable of eliciting a strong immune response could substantially reduce the future burden of infection,

The worm in the bud: Do parasites interfere with immunization? 
July 27, 2020
Author
Written by Liana Wait, Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology

Vaccines are one of the most important tools we have in our defense against infectious diseases, but not everyone responds to vaccination in the same way. Parasites such as worms and viruses change the way a person or animal’s immune system functions, and this can affect their ability to respond to vaccines. 

Since the 1960s, a steady…

Preventing the next pandemic
July 23, 2020
Author
Written by The Office of Communications

A Policy Forum article published today in Science shows that an annual investment of $30 billion should be enough to offset the costs of preventing another global pandemic such as COVID-19.

Thus far, COVID has cost at least $2.6 trillion and may cost 10 times this amount. It is the…

Worldwide Stellarator research goes virtual
July 10, 2020

Travel restrictions imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic are transforming, with pluses and minuses, scientific conferences around the world. Take the Coordinated Working Group Meeting (CWGM), an international event cohosted by the U.S. Department of Energy’s (DOE) Princeton Plasma Physics Laboratory (PPPL) that typically draws 30 or 40 participants…

Campus seismometers illustrate compliance with the stay-at-home order
July 7, 2020
Author
Written by Liz Fuller-Wright, Office of Communications

Most people only hear about seismometers in the context of big earthquakes or volcanoes, but the sensitive instruments detect much gentler movements as well.

“They can pick up people moving, or public transportation,” said Yuri Tamama of the Class of 2022, who is analyzing data from campus…

Princeton faculty members receive grants for COVID-19 research from C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute
June 23, 2020
Author
Written by Princeton University

The C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute has awarded $5.4 million to 26 projects to accelerate artificial intelligence research to mitigate COVID-19 and future pandemics. Princeton faculty members Matthew Desmond, Simon Levin, Stefana Parascho, H. Vincent Poor, Corina Tarnita and Mengdi Wang are among researchers to receive funding for their…

‘We Roar’: Wailoo sees the intersecting vulnerabilities behind COVID-19 fatalities
June 9, 2020
Author
Written by The Office of Communications

In the latest episode of the “We Roar” podcast,

Princeton announces plan for phased reopening of on-campus laboratory research
June 2, 2020
Author
Written by Catherine Zandonella, Office of the Dean for Research
Princeton University has created a plan for the phased resumption of on-campus research in a safe and orderly manner, and as promptly as circumstances permit.
Statement from President Eisgruber on the killing of George Floyd and the importance of confronting racism
June 1, 2020
Author
Written by The Office of Communications

Statement from President Eisgruber on the killing of George Floyd and the importance of confronting racism

In my Commencement address for today’s virtual ceremony, I say that members of the Class of 2020 graduate into hard times, and…

AI tool gives doctors a new look at the lungs in treating COVID-19
May 21, 2020
Author
Written by Scott Lyon, Office of Engineering Communications

Spurred by the COVID-19 pandemic, Princeton researchers have developed a diagnostic tool to analyze chest X-rays for patterns in diseased lungs. The new tool could give doctors valuable information about a patient's condition, quickly and cheaply, at the point of care.

‘We Roar’: A COVID vaccine in 12-18 months? Don’t count on it
May 19, 2020
Author
Written by The Office of Communications

In the latest episode of the “We Roar” podcast, a vaccine expert describes what it will take to produce a coronavirus vaccine in less than two years — and why that timeline is already “miraculously fast.”

Local climate unlikely to drive the early COVID-19 pandemic
May 18, 2020
Author
Written by Morgan Kelly, Princeton Environmental Institute

Local variations in climate are not likely to dominate the first wave of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a Princeton University study published May 18 in the journal Science.

The researchers found that the vast number of people still vulnerable…

Princeton engineering team to use NSF RAPID grant to investigate asymptomatic spread of COVID-19, test strategies for prevention
May 18, 2020
Author
Written by Molly Sharlach, Office of Engineering Communications

A National Science Foundation grant will support Princeton researchers studying how COVID-19 may be spread by people without symptoms through everyday social interactions involving breathing and speaking.

Led by Howard Stone,…

‘We Roar’: Like any poison, the coronavirus is deadlier with higher doses
May 15, 2020
Author
Written by The Office of Communications

Catching COVID-19 isn’t all-or-nothing, says virus researcher Caroline Bartman in the latest episode of Princeton University’s “We Roar” podcast. Instead, it’s more like a poison: while a tiny amount of most toxins might just make…

Essential work: Princeton’s fly food chef provides sustenance for life-sciences research
May 12, 2020

Millions of tiny creatures — and the scientific discoveries that they make possible — depend on one of the essential workers reporting to campus during the pandemic.

Gordon Gray is “chef de cuisine” at Princeton’s fly kitchen, where he brews a rich and hearty concoction for the roughly 2 million fruit flies that call Princeton…

COVID-19's silent spread: Princeton researchers explore how symptomless transmission helps pathogens thrive
May 12, 2020
Author
Written by Catherine Zandonella, Office of the Dean for Research

COVID-19's rapid spread throughout the world has been fueled in part by the virus' ability to be transmitted by people who are not showing symptoms of infection.

Now, a study by researchers at Princeton has found that this silent phase of transmission can be a successful evolutionary strategy for pathogens such as viruses like the one…

‘We Roar’: Dr. Glenn Wakam ’11 digs into the racial inequities of COVID-19
May 8, 2020
Author
Written by The Office of Communications

“When this all started, COVID-19 was touted as the great equalizer,” said Glenn Wakam, a surgical resident currently volunteering in a Detroit-area hospital. “Officials said it didn't matter your race, your religion, your socioeconomic status, that this would affect us all the same. That's just not true.”

“It's one of the million…

FDA approves ventilator designed by particle physics community
May 5, 2020
Author
Written by by Lauren Biron, Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory, and Liz Fuller-Wright, Princeton University Office of Communications

In just six weeks, from March 19 to May 1, an international team of physicists and engineers led by Princeton’s Cristian Galbiati brought a ventilator from concept to FDA approval.

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced on Sunday, May 3, that the

‘We Roar’: Laura Conour maintains care for Princeton’s research animals
May 1, 2020
Author
Written by The Office of Communications

Even as about 90% of Princeton’s research labs are shuttered, care for research animals continues uninterrupted under the direction of Laura Conour, the University’s attending veterinarian and the director of Lab Animal Resources.

Her 26 team members, including veterinarians, administrators and animal care technicians, provide daily…

MacMillan, Ploss labs to map viral-host interactions for COVID-19
April 30, 2020
Author
Written by Wendy Plump, Department of Chemistry

Responding to a challenge that tragic necessity has thrown to countless research labs around the world, a team from the Princeton Department of Chemistry will deploy its new cell mapping technology to shed light on the molecular interplay between COVID-19 and its host. The team is collaborating…

WWS Reacts: Family Health During a Global Pandemic
April 27, 2020
Author
Written by Sarah M. Binder and Patty Yelavich, Woodrow Wilson School

Access to comprehensive, quality health care is critical for promoting and maintaining health and well-being. Yet, under normal circumstances, health care accessibility is an issue for many in the United States. Covid-19 brings new challenges for low-income families, expecting mothers, and others at higher risk for serious illness.

We…

WWS Reacts: China’s Response to Covid-19
April 24, 2020
Author
Written by B. Rose Huber and Patricia Yelavich, Woodrow Wilson School

As the rest of the world struggles to combat Covid-19, China, where the virus originated in late 2019, appears to have made significant strides to quell the virus. As a result, researchers, health care professionals, and policymakers around the world are looking for the lessons learned from China’s experience.  

We asked faculty…

To combat COVID-19, behavioral pitfalls must be addressed
April 24, 2020
Author
Written by B. Rose Huber, Woodrow Wilson School of Public and International Affairs

During any crisis, timely, and sometimes life-altering, decisions must be made, requiring an extreme amount of sound judgment under uncertainty. The COVID-19 pandemic is no different.

In a commentary piece for The Lancet,…

Research on COVID-19 misinformation fuels partnership with Microsoft Research
April 21, 2020
Author
Written by Sarah Binder, Woodrow Wilson School

Open Facebook or Twitter on any given day during the Covid-19 global pandemic, and it takes just moments before a questionable claim about the coronavirus appears — 5G technology causes people to succumb to the virus; inhaling steam will cure it; the virus is a bioweapon gone wrong. From the origins of the virus or potential treatments to what…

Princeton University endorses guidelines aimed at rapid transfer of COVID-19 solutions to public
April 16, 2020
Author
Written by Catherine Zandonella, Office of the Dean for Research
Princeton this week endorsed new guidelines aimed at accelerating the transition of the University's COVID-19 discoveries into solutions to protect health care workers and prevent, diagnose, treat and contain the pandemic.
Princeton researchers map rural U.S. counties most vulnerable to COVID-19
April 16, 2020
Author
Written by Morgan Kelly, Princeton Environmental Institute
An analysis by Princeton University researchers examines which rural areas will be hit hardest.