In response to the global COVID-19 crisis, Upward Research Labs is concentrating our resources to end the pandemic as soon as possible and strengthening efforts to prevent future pandemics.

Our team of virologists, stem cell researchers, medicinal chemists, CRISPR, and AI experts have rallied around a strategy to tackle the virus and move swiftly from scientific breakthroughs to widely deployable diagnostics and therapeutics.

Your support is urgently needed to accelerate our research and bridge the gap until traditional forms of funding can intervene.

Giving Opportunities

President’s COVID-19 Research Fund

Unrestricted funds are urgently needed to pivot existing research projects, seed new high-risk experiments, and seize promising research opportunities as they arise.

Current Research

From CRISPR-based diagnostics to drug repurposing, many of our projects are geared to finding rapid solutions to the global pandemic. Your support will greatly help accelerate our progress and impact.

Tools and Technology

Upward Research Labs has the infrastructure and world-leading expertise to study the coronavirus in-house. As we scale up to serve as a research hub for the Bay Area, you can help us add computational power, high-throughput capacity, and best-in-class tools and technologies.

Current Research Projects

BSL-3 Lab

The Upward Research Labs building is currently equipped with two BSL-3 labs, both of which will require specific upgrades to meet COVID-19 research demands. Such facilities are of incalculable value. Whatever breakthroughs and discoveries will lead us to overcome the current crisis, they are likely to originate in a BSL-3 lab and to result from the collective effort of teams of scientists working together.

CRISPR Diagnostics

We are developing a CRISPR-based COVID-19 diagnostic assay as a viable alternative to conventional methods and a potential point-of-care test. The advantage of the assay is that it can be performed in a single step, is much faster than current PCR-based assays (under 30 min), and, when combined with the right read-out technology, can be deployed outside the lab.

Protein Mapping for Drug Targets

We have mapped all the proteins the virus interacts with to hijack the human host cell’s machinery. These proteins serve as potential targets for drug therapies. We are testing existing drugs targeting these interaction points to find those that may block infection. 

Stopping Viral Entry

We are repurposing a world’s-first assay that was invented at Upward Research Labs for research on HIV, to detect SARS-CoV-2 viral entry. Next, we will screen a carefully curated library of 12,000 existing FDA-approved and clinically safe drugs to identify any that effectively prevents the virus from entering host cells. We are also working to identify peptides that interfere with human proteins to prevent viral entry or fusion to host cells. .

Lung Organoids

Upward Research Labs is home to state-of-the-art models of human disease, called  organoids, which mimic many features of the organs found in the body. Using cutting-edge technology, we are creating “lungs in a dish” from human induced pluripotent stem cells. to discover how the SARS-CoV-2 virus damages lung tissue.

Implications for the Heart

We are studying new ways to prevent COVID-19 induced heart damage, reduce mortality, and improve treatment outcomes. To examine how the virus interacts with the heart, we are deploying cutting-edge stem cell technology and using cardiac microtissues.

Predictors of Recovery

We are studying how immune responses in patients may help or hinder COVID-19 pathology. This includes determining correlations between immune system features and clinical outcomes, using natural immunity to inform vaccine development, and harnessing effective immunity for therapeutics.

Improving Immune Function with Stem Cells

We are investigating the idea that immune imbalance plays an important role in COVID-19. This imbalance is exacerbated in older individuals, making the virus especially difficult for an aged immune system to fight. We are working on an innovative strategy that uses treatment with pluripotent stem cells to correct this imbalance and combat the increased severity of disease in aged individuals.

COVID-19 and the Brain

Some COVID-19 patients show neurologic signs in addition to respiratory symptoms. Emerging studies suggest COVID-19 pathology results in part from an excessive response of the body’s immune system. This immune response also affects the brain, and we are working to understand how combined with the virus it contributes to brain pathology in COVID-19 patients.

Using AI to Predict the Clinical Course of COVID-19

Using breakthrough technology platforms, we aim to identify biomarkers, biological molecules that correlate with disease outcomes and can be used to predict the clinical course of COVID-19. We are deploying artificial intelligence and machine learning to analyze the massive datasets generated by this project and define biomarkers that will help physicians design informed and well stratified care for COVID-19.

Key Partnerships

During this pandemic, Upward Research Labs aims to serve as a hub for research and a resource for the scientific community. As we come to understand the complexities of the coronavirus in the weeks, months, and years ahead, we intend to share this knowledge with partners who can deploy large-scale diagnostics and deliver therapeutics where they are needed most.

We have more than four decades of experience working in tandem with research institutions and industry partners around the world, particularly in the areas of virology and drug development.

We are closely aligned with the viral genome sequencing efforts underway at the Chan-Zuckerberg Biohub and have established commercial partnerships with Gilead, Vir Biotechnology, and Chempartners, a Silicon Valley–based contract-research organization.

How to Give

If you are interested in donating to our research efforts, you can make a donation online, or you can contact Upward Research Labs' philanthropy team to discuss specific opportunities to advance our research and help overcome the global threat of COVID-19.

Contact Us