Prepared to Act: Lessons Learned by the Special Pathogens Research Network, Based on Collaborations with the NIAID-Led Adaptive COVID-19 Treatment Trial

Corri B. Levine, Sami Vasistha, Caroline Croyle Persson, Luann R. Larson, Christopher J. Kratochvil, Aneesh K. Mehta, Lindsay J. Hicks, Abigail E. Lowe, Mark G. Kortepeter, Lauren M. Sauer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

3 Scopus citations


The need for well-controlled clinical trials is fundamental to advancing medicine. Care should be taken to maintain high standards in trial design and conduct even during emergency medical events such as an infectious disease outbreak. In 2020, SARS-CoV-2 emerged and rapidly impacted populations around the globe. The need for effective therapeutics was immediately evident, prompting the National Institutes of Health to initiate the Adaptive COVID-19 Treatment Trial. The Special Pathogens Research Network, made up of 10 Regional Emerging Special Pathogens Treatment Centers, was approached to participate in this trial and readily joined the trial on short notice. By trial closure, the Special Pathogens Research Network sites, making up 19% of all study sites, enrolled 26% of the total participants. The initial resources available and experience in running clinical trials at each treatment center varied from minimal experience and few staff to extensive experience and a large staff. Based on experiences during the first phase of this trial, the Special Pathogens Research Network members provided feedback regarding operational lessons learned and recommendations for conducting future studies during a pandemic. Communication, collaboration, information technology, regulatory processes, and access to resources were identified as important topics to address. Key stakeholders including institutions, institutional review boards, and study personnel must maintain routine communication to efficiently and effectively activate when future research needs arise. Regular and standardized training for new personnel will aid in transitions and project continuity, especially in a rapidly evolving environment. Trainings should include local just-in-Time training for new staff and sponsor-designed modules to refresh current staff knowledge. We offer recommendations that can be used by institutions and sponsors to determine goals and needs when preparing to set up this type of trial for critical, short-notice needs.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)S20-S30
JournalHealth Security
Issue numberS1
StatePublished - Jun 1 2022
Externally publishedYes


  • Clinical research
  • COVID-19
  • Investigational therapeutics
  • Special pathogens

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Health(social science)
  • Emergency Medicine
  • Safety Research
  • Public Health, Environmental and Occupational Health
  • Management, Monitoring, Policy and Law
  • Health, Toxicology and Mutagenesis


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