A model of the deadly corona virus. Courtesy County News Center

UC San Diego announced Thursday a $350,000 donation from Jean and Gary Shekhter, which will help fund San Diego Epidemiology and Research for COVID-19 Health, a collaborative research study aimed at helping local businesses and employees return to work safely by screening community members for presence of the coronavirus.

The research study is co-led by UC San Diego, Scripps Research and Rady Children’s Hospital-San Diego.

“Nearly 300,000 San Diego County residents have lost jobs because of COVID-19,” said UC San Diego Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “Our economy is struggling, so the sooner people can get back to their jobs, the better for our region.”

UC San Diego launched a similar testing program on campus in March called Return to Learn. The evidence-based program aims to make monthly COVID- 19 testing available to students to track the novel coronavirus and better position the university to resume in-person activities in fall 2020.

“Based on my understanding about COVID-19, the most efficient way of opening the economy is to screen more people,” said Gary Shekhter. “Screening gives us an understanding of what’s going on in the community such as seeing a particular situation in an area ignite, then isolating and dealing with the contact area.”

Other research partners include the Sanford Consortium for Regenerative Medicine, Salk Institute for Biological Studies and Biocom. At UC San Diego, SEARCH is led by researchers Gene Yeo, Rob Knight and Louise Laurent.

“I hope our gift will inspire others. We want to encourage the community to get involved in the COVID-19 crisis,” Jean Shekhter said. “Because of UC San Diego, our region has developed a tremendous base for life sciences. We feel it is very important to support this great institution.”

— City News Service

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