UIC launches COVID-19 research registry

Researchers at the University of Illinois at Chicago are launching a registry for patients who have been tested for COVID-19. Through the registry, patients tested for COVID-19 will be offered information about COVID-19 and access to support resources available through the City of Chicago. Patients also will be provided with opportunities to participate in clinical trials or other research opportunities through the registry.  

The registry, called VISIT, for the COVID-19 Testing Registry, will operate through a text messaging platform. Patients tested for COVID-19 at UIC’s academic and clinical health system, UI Health, will be sent a text message with links to resources. For example, VISIT will offer: information on COVID-19 test results and symptoms; information on warning signs for worsening COVID-19 and recommendations on when to get medical help; and connections to the City of Chicago’s “Resource Finder” website, which offers information about accessing resources that may be helpful, for example. Following that, patients will be sent a text that invites them to enroll in the registry.

Through the registry, individuals tested for COVID-19 also will be invited to volunteer for research studies or clinical trials.

“This is a ‘service, then research’ approach to helping our community during the pandemic,” said Dr. Marina Del Rios, associate professor of emergency medicine and principal investigator of the registry. “It’s about caring for people while working to answer important questions about the disease, such as, ‘What does that sickness look like among different communities and in different people?’ Our priority is providing support, resources and information to people who get tested, but through this service first approach to our registry, we hope to get people engaged in critical research activities.”

Del Rios said that it is particularly important to reach communities that historically have been underrepresented in clinical research or have recently experienced health disparities.

“I hope that this model will help increase the participation of underrepresented minorities in clinical trials. We need to learn more about the barriers faced by communities affected disproportionately by COVID-19 and how best to address these factors,” Del Rios said.

To start, VISIT will be offered to patients who seek care at UI Health through the emergency room at the University of Illinois Hospital.

Working with Del Rios on the registry are UIC’s Dr. Jerry Krishnan, Dr. Terry Vanden Hoek, Dr. Susan Bleasdale, Dr. Janet Lin, Dr. Adam Rodos, Dr. Steve Dudek, Dr. Renee Petzel Gimbar and Dr. Pavitra Kotini-Shah.

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