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Good news, we are back and ready to start seeing participants! Starting this week the clinic will be open to schedule baseline visits! We are looking forward to working with you, so come in and we will compensate you for your time.

RAs of the Week!

RAs of the Week


Meet  Jason!

Jason is one of our clinic RAs and has been part of the C.A.T.C.H. study for 2 years. Not only does he work in the clinic, in the past he worked on measuring the correlation between symptom score provided by the participant and the end result (positive or negative) of their samples taken in the clinic. Currently, he is working on the integration process of wearable health monitors into the study. Jason is a senior, microbiology major. In the future, he is hoping to go to medical school to work with disease response or health policy. If your lucky when you come to clinic you will have Jason as your RA!


Meet Amara!

Amara is one of our clinic RAs and has been part of the C.A.T.C.H. study for 2 years. She is a senior Public Health Science major. When Amara is not in clinic, she can be found working as the executive director of Terp Thon or with her sorority, Delta Phi Epsilon. She is even a certified EMT! In the future she hopes to go to PA school to fulfill her dream of becoming a Physician Assistant. If your lucky when you come to clinic you will have Amara as your RA!

RAs of the Week!

Meet more of our awesome undergraduate research assistants!


Meet Afnan!

Afnan is one of our clinic RAs and joined the C.A.T.C.H. study this past  summer. Not only does she do an awesome job in the clinic, she also is helping on a cloning project in the lab! Afnan is a senior, public health science major. On campus, she is also member of Tau Sigma, a Honor Society. Believe it or not, Afnan can be found going for runs at 6am! In the future, she is hoping to go to medical school and become a doctor. If your lucky when you come to clinic you will have Afnan as your RA!


Meet Ankita!

Ankita is one of our clinic RAs and joined the C.A.T.C.H. study last spring. Ankita is a junior, general biology major. When Ankita is not in clinic she can be found working with scholars alumni, in the QUEST honors program, or working as a swim instructor. She loves her job as a swim instructor! In the future Ankita is hoping to go to medical school and serve in a nonprofit organization. If your lucky when you come to clinic you will have Ankita as your RA!

Cool Paper

Technology is always changing. To help us identify different viruses that are collected on swabs in the clinic we use PCR assay. This process takes 3-4 hours to run and collect information. A recent study has found an alternative method called loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP). During a comparative study it was found that this technique is just as sensitive and specific to identifying and quantifying viruses. The main difference is that this method only takes 1 hour from swab collection to results! 

Check out this cool paper!

RAs of the Week

Meet some of our awesome undergraduate research assistants!

Meet Hannah!

Hannah is one of our clinic RAs and has been apart of our study since fall 2017. She is a junior who is working on making her own major! When she isn’t in the clinic she can be found doing a campus tour with Images, in the University of Maryland Repertoire Orchestra, or dancing with UMD’s Israeli Dance Troupe. In the future she hopes to go into neuropsychology and do research on the brain mechanisms of attention, development of educational/therapeutic interventions for individuals with ADHD, or teaching. If your lucky when you come to clinic you will have Hannah as your RA!


Meet Carmen!Carmen is one of our lab RAs and has been part of our study since Fall 2017. She is a junior, general biology major. On campus, she is the service chair of Viet Nam Medical Assistance Program (VNMAP), working to address healthcare disparities in the Asian-American community! In the future she hopes to become a physician that not only impacts the community, but also be involved in changing and shaping the healthcare system for a better future! You know your samples are in good hands if Carmen has them!

Potential New Technology!

Spire Tag!

Image result for spire tag

A Spire Tag is worn on the inside of your clothing, becoming virtually invisible. They measure: heart rate, respiratory rate, tension, stress, sleep and exercise! They even remind you to breath when you are stressed or tense.

Make your clothes smart!

Image result for spire tagImage result for spire tag

More information coming soon.

See the Gesundheit-II in action (vintage clip from 2013)

In an online post called “Avoid the ‘back-to-school plague’ of flu and cold” CNN has a clip of the G-II in action in 2013 — when we collected samples from 178 people with influenza-like illness on the College Park Campus of the University of Maryland. A total of 156 of them had influenza virus infections and results were published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 2018.

Guess who’s back?

That’s right, CATCH is returning for another year of sample collection!

We’ll be making some changes but the bare bones are the same:

  • If you get a cold or the flu, we want you and,
  • If you’re friends with someone that has a cold or the flu, we may ask you to come help us out too
  • We want you to download our Smartphone app to help examine how sick people are interacting

Some changes that we’re making include:

  • Sending a daily message to check in with you and ask if you’re feeling OK
  • Recruiting people at the UHC; if you get a positive flu test at the health center, we want you to visit us
  • Following students outside the Cambridge Community, or even off campus.

That’s all folks!

Thank you to everyone that participated in the 2017/2018 academic year!!!


We ended up with 164 participants who visited the clinic, with a total of 627 visits, 264 downloads of the Smartphone App, which ended up collecting over 1.8 MILLION data points, and 283 completed baseline surveys.  All of this means we got some amazing data, and were able to give out $___ in compensation to our amazing participants!


The clinical visits were divided into several categories, as indicated by the figure below.  A “Brief Case” visit was made when a person reported they were feeling ill.  If they met certain criteria that suggested they may be sick with one of our target viruses, they also provided samples for an “In Depth Case” visit.  Those that were confirmed to be infected with a target pathogen provided the names of their closest contacts, who were then invited in for a “Contact” visit. contacts that became infected with the same virus as their nominator were brought in as a “Secondary Case.” Finally, those that filled in our Baseline Survey at the beginning of the study were invited to provide a final set of samples as part of a “Study Completion“ visit.


Using our TaqMan Array system, we were able to screen our participants for over 40 different pathogens.  The viral infections we were most interested in this semester included Influenza (both A and B), Coronaviruses, Adenovirus, Respiratory Syncytial Virus, and Human Parainfluenza Viruses. A breakdown of the number infections we detected is in the figure, right.


Other infections we were able to detect from our participant samples with our assay included Bacterial infections, such as:

  • Mycoplasma pneumonia,
  • Streptococcus pneumonia,
  • Streptococcus pyogenes, and
  • Bordetella parapertussis.

Other viral infections detected with the assay included:

  • Astrovirus,
  • Epstein-Barr Virus, and
  • Human Metapnuemo Virus.


Most of the infections we detected were a result of Rhinovirus, which while not necessarily one of our target viruses of interest, isn’t that surprising.  They don’t call it the “common cold” for nothing! Some unlucky people were actually infected with multiple viruses, which can be seen in Table 1, detailing coinfections in our participant population.

Another piece of our overall study was monitoring the CO2 levels in the dormitories of the Cambridge Community. CO2 levels can be used to estimate the amount of exhaled breath in a room, which in turn can be used to estimate your exposure risk to respiratory viruses.  Within the Cambridge Community, Cambridge Hall recently underwent renovations, to include a new HVAC system, which allows for air exchange with the outside.  In contrast, Centerville Hall’s ventilation system does not allow for this exchange with the outdoor air supply.  We wanted to examine what affect this difference in ventilation systems might have on infection rates, and found that there was a difference in the number of viral infections between participants residing in buildings with high outdoor air exchange and buildings with low outdoor air exchange.



Number of Residents Cases
All Viral Agents
(rate per 100)
Target 5 Agents
(rate per 100)
High Outdoor Air Exchange 200 2 (1) 2(1)
Low Outdoor Air Exchange 533 53(9.9) 49(9.2)
Not in Targeted Residence Halls 772 20(2.6) 20(2.6)
Total 1505 75 71


Congratulations to Our May and End of Semester Winners for Downloading the Smartphone App!

We want to say a big congratulations to our final two winners.  One was awarded our final monthly prize of $20 and a Giant Microbe, and the other was our big, end-of-semester, and she also won a Giant Microbe, as well as $500!!!

Our final, end-of-semester winner, showing off her Influenza Giant Microbe!


Thanks to all who downloaded the app, it allowed us to collect some great data and will help us to better understand how contact can impact respiratory virus transmission!

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