The ASRC Sensor CAT to Fund Fast-Track COVID-19 Research  

More than 100 scientists from 22 research institutions and 15 companies joined the CUNY ASRC Sensor CAT on April 7th for a call-to-action webinar aimed at identifying and fast-tracking research to help win the battle against COVID-19 and future pandemics. The event was the first for the state-funded Sensor CAT (Center for Advanced Technology), which was created to spur growth of the sensor technology industry, global market currently valued at over $100 billion, in New York by funding partnerships between industry and academic researchers.   

 “The webinar was a great way to unveil the Sensor CAT to the research community at this unconventional time,” said Professor Rein Ulijn, director of the ASRC Sensor CAT and of the CUNY ASRC’s Nanoscience Initiative. “It’s critical that we put our resources to work in a way that can most help society during this moment of crisisThe event was a chance to identify the researchers and companies that, with a bit of funding and other support, could bring to market the new technology and medical devices that could be developed or accelerated within the next three to six months to address urgent needs of detection and protection against COVID-19.”  

Researchers from five startups shared information about their novel technologies, each of which has the potential to be developed or repurposed to address urgent needs. They included a platform that is currently being used to perform rapid point-of-care molecular diagnostics; an active surface coating approach that has potential to rapidly inactivate the virus upon contact; a biodegradable, renewable material that could replace plastic for use in creating personal protective devices; a set of selective sugar-binding molecules that could be developed to create rapid testing for coronavirus; and an optical sensor device for clinical screening of patients who exhibit fever symptoms as well as those who are asymptomatic.  

Norman Sabio, M.D., an infectious disease physician currently deployed by the U.S. Army Reserve to fight the COVID-19 pandemic, was on hand as a clinical expert to offer insight on technologies that would be effective in helping clinicians get ahead of the pandemic. In response to one participant’s question, he noted that translation of technologies such as those used by NASA to remotely monitor and manage astronauts’ health could be one type of consumer-based sensor that would prove useful in helping health care providers remotely manage and care for patients outside of crowded hospital settings.  

 “Our immediate goal is to identify and support New Yorkbased businesses and scientists with existing research that has the potential to produce results within six months,” said Tavis Ezell, director of business development for the CAT. “The breakthroughs we need may be sitting in someone’s lab, so we encourage everyone who thinks their research could help to contact us.”  

Check out the recorded webinar for information about the CAT’s COVID-19 research-funding initiative or send an email to