LongCovid Research Consortium (LCRC)

The LongCovid Research Consortium is a scientific collaboration to rapidly and comprehensively study LongCovid.

LongCovid is no longer a mystery. New research is revealing key drivers of the condition, including evidence strongly suggesting that patients with LongCovid do not fully clear the SARS-CoV-2 virus. Instead, the virus may persist in tissue where it continues to provoke the immune system. This could drive a wide range of downstream consequences such as blood clotting, neuroinflammation, and neuropathy. The persistence of SARS-CoV-2 in tissue is called a viral reservoir.

The LongCovid Research Consortium has established a comprehensive research program on LongCovid disease mechanisms, with a focus on viral reservoir. The program includes scientists and clinicians from institutions including Harvard Medical School, University of California San Francisco, the J. Craig Venter Institute, Johns Hopkins, University of Pennsylvania, the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai, Cardiff University and Yale University.

Our Scientific Team

  • Amy Proal, PhD

    Amy Proal, PhD

    PolyBio Research Foundation

    President/Chief Scientific Officer/Microbiologist with expertise in pathogen persistence
  • Michael VanElzakker, PhD

    Michael VanElzakker, PhD

    Harvard Medical School

    Instructor, Division of Neurotherapeutics/Neuroimmunologist and expert in persistent central nervous system consequences
  • Soo Aleman, MD, PhD

    Soo Aleman, MD, PhD

    Karolinska Institutet

    Associate professor, Department of Infectious Diseases/Expert in viral infection and clinical care
  • Marcus Buggert, PhD

    Marcus Buggert, PhD

    Karolinska Institutet

    Assistant Professor, Docent & Group Leader. Expert in cell-mediated immunity to viral infections and cancer
  • Sara Cherry, PhD

    Sara Cherry, PhD

    Perelman School of Medicine University of Pennsylvania

    Professor of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine
  • Helen Davies, MD

    Helen Davies, MD

    Cardiff University

    Consultant Respiratory Physician/ Clinical Lead at Cardiff University Post Covid Respiratory Clinic
  • Christopher Dupont, PhD

    Christopher Dupont, PhD

    The J. Craig Venter Institute

    Associate Professor in Genomic Medicine, Environment & Sustainability, and Synthetic Biology
  • Steven G. Deeks, MD

    Steven G. Deeks, MD

    University of California San Francisco

    Professor of Medicine in Residence/Faculty member in the Division of HIV, Infectious Diseases and Global Medicine I
  • Wesley Ely, MD

    Wesley Ely, MD

    Vanderbilt University Medical Center

    Grant W. Liddle Chair in Medicine/Professor of Medicine in the Division of Allergy, Pulmonary, and Critical Care
  • Alessio Fasano, MD

    Alessio Fasano, MD

    Harvard Medical School

    W. Allan Walker Chair in Pediatric Gastroenterology and Nutrition/Director, Mucosal Immunology & Biology Research Center
  • Marcelo Freire, PhD

    Marcelo Freire, PhD

    The J. Craig Venter Institute

    Associate Professor in Genomic Medicine & Infectious Disease/Expert in inflammation biology
  • Diane Griffin MD, PhD

    Diane Griffin MD, PhD

    Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health

    Alfred and Jill Sommer Professor & Chair, Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology
  • Timothy Henrich, MD

    Timothy Henrich, MD

    University of California San Francisco 

    Associate Professor of Medicine/Therapeutic approaches to HIV-1/PET-based imaging of viral reservoirs
  • Akiko Iwasaki, PhD

    Akiko Iwasaki, PhD

    Yale University

    Sterling Professor of Immunobiology & Prof of Dermatology and of Molecular, Cellular, & Devel. Biology/ Epidemiology
  • David Izquierdo-Garcia, PhD

    David Izquierdo-Garcia, PhD

    Harvard Medical School

    Assistant Professor in Radiology & Assistant in Biomedical Engineering
  • Harlan Krumholz, MD

    Harlan Krumholz, MD

    Yale School of Medicine

    Harold H. Hines, Jr. Professor of Medicine (Cardiology)/Director, Center for Outcomes Research & Evaluation
  • Nikos Kyrpides, PhD

    Nikos Kyrpides, PhD

    Berkeley Joint Genome Institute

    Senior Scientist, Genome Biology Program Lead, Metagenomics Program Head
  • Saurabh Mehandru, MD

    Saurabh Mehandru, MD

    Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

    Professor and Vice Chair of Research Division of Gastroenterology Department of Medicine
  • Peter Novak, MD

    Peter Novak, MD

    Harvard Medical School

    Inaugural Chief of the Autonomic Neurology Division/Expert in Small Fiber Polyneuropathy
  • Resia Pretorius, PhD

    Resia Pretorius, PhD

    Stellenbosch University

    Distinguished Professor and Department Head of Physiological Sciences
  • David Putrino, PhD

    David Putrino, PhD

    Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai

    Director of Rehabilitation Innovation for the Mt Sinai Health System/Associate Professor of Rehabilitation Medicine
  • David Price, MD, PhD

    David Price, MD, PhD

    Cardiff University School of Medicine

    Chair of infection and Immunity/Expert in viral infection and molecular immunology
  • Richard Scheurmann, PhD

    Richard Scheurmann, PhD

    The J. Craig Venter Institute

    Director of the JCVI La Jolla Campus/Director of JCVI Informatics/Adjunct professor of pathology at UCSD
  • David Systrom, MD

    David Systrom, MD

    Harvard Medical School

    Assistant Professor of Medicine, Pulmonary & Critical Care/Expert in Invasive Cardiopulmonary Exercise Testing
  • Gene Tan, PhD

    Gene Tan, PhD

    The J. Craig Venter Institute

    Assistant Professor in the Infectious Disease Group/Expert in virus-host interactions
  • Henry VanBrocklin, PhD

    Henry VanBrocklin, PhD

    University of California San Francisco

    Professor, Department of Radiology, and Director of Radiopharmaceutical Research
  • Lael Yonker, MD

    Lael Yonker, MD

    Harvard Medical School

    Physician Scientist and Assistant Professor of Pediatrics Center/Director of the MGH Cystic Fibrosis Center 
  • John Wherry, PhD

    John Wherry, PhD

    Perelman School of Medicine University of Pennsylvania

    Schiffrin President’s Distinguished Professor & Chair, Dept of Systems Pharmacology & Translational Therapeutics

Research Priorities

The LongCovid Research Consortium program spans the following topics:

1) Tissue Biopsy Studies

Designed to identify SARS-CoV-2, its proteins, and related changes to the immune and genetic landscape in intestinal, lung, lymph node, and other tissue samples collected from LongCovid patients.  

2) Autopsy and Imaging Studies

Designed to reveal the deep-tissue locations of SARS-CoV-2 reservoirs and ongoing antiviral T cell activity throughout the body and brain.

3) Blood-based Biomarker Studies

Designed to capture key metrics in blood such as spike protein or immune cell patterns that can infer the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in tissue, making diagnosis easier outside of research labs.

4) Impact on Other Pathogens and Microbiome

Designed to determine the extent to which SARS-CoV-2’s impact on the immune system facilitates the reactivation of other latent pathogens such as herpesviruses or the parasite Toxoplasma, and/or disrupts the delicate balance of the human microbiome.

5) Downstream Consequences of Persistence

Designed to characterize a wide range of downstream effects of SARS-CoV-2 persistence including impacts on clotting, cerebrospinal fluid flow, neuroinflammation, and vagus nerve signaling.

These projects push the boundaries of how cutting-edge technologies can be used in the study of chronic disease. These include sequencing technologies like spatial transcriptomics that allow for a detailed understanding of immune activity near identified virus; whole-body PET imaging technologies that allow for visualization of SARS-CoV-2 in deep tissue reservoirs; and single nuclei RNA sequencing to characterize the landscape of tissue, blood vessel, and nervous system changes.

The Big Picture

 

We stand at an important moment in time. Viruses beyond SARS-CoV-2 – such as Epstein-Barr Virus and the enteroviruses – are increasingly implicated in a growing number of chronic conditions including ME/CFS, multiple sclerosis, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s disease. Bacterial pathogens such as Borrelia burgdorferi (Lyme disease) are also increasingly connected to the development of chronic disease symptoms. Persistent viral or bacterial activity may even play a role in the human aging process, positioning this work at the center of longevity research. We will iterate the LCRC collaborative infrastructure and cutting-edge technologies towards the study of pathogen activity in these related conditions. This could usher in an era in which antivirals, immunotherapies, and related therapeutics become treatment possibilities for millions of patients across the globe.

Images Courtesy of Eric Song PhD, Iwasaki Lab, Yale University. 1) Top image of infectious SARS-CoV-2 (red) in a brain organoid causing cell death (apoptosis, green). 2) Bottom image of SARS-CoV-2 viral particles (dark circles) inside neuronal cells from a brain organoid culture after infection.