In the second episode in our COVID-19 series, we speak with Dawn Dudley, Ph.D. to explore the processes of creating a rapid COVID-19 test in one lab in Wisconsin.  When it became apparent that diagnostic tests for coronavirus were unavailable to most people with symptoms who were not hospitalized, Dawn began working with another scientist in the laboratory to try to develop a method to diagnose this virus using unique materials. Optimizing this new coronavirus test is what Dawn is primarily working on in the laboratory today. 

Dawn obtained her Ph.D. in Molecular and Microbiology at Case Western Reserve University where she studied HIV drug resistance. Dawn then moved to the University of Wisconsin-Madison for her post-doc where she continued to study HIV drug resistance in the Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine under the supervision of Dr. David O’Connor. She continues to work with Dr. O’Connor as a senior scientist in the laboratory. About four years ago, Dawn started working on Zika virus with close collaborators from Brazil and developed the first nonhuman primate animal model to study Zika virus in pregnancy. She continues to work on many Zika-related projects, which has given her many opportunities to speak at international meetings and in labs all over the world.  

Listen and Learn: 

  • The next wave of maternal/child health diseases Dawn is researching  
  • How her lab was able to quickly switch to focusing on creating COVID-19 tests 
  • The process of creating a test, including collaboration with other universities 
  • The timeline for implementing the test kit to healthcare facilities and for home use 
  • How an effective test can help bring a lessening to COVID-19 

Resources & Mentions: 

Why COVID tests like Dawn is helping to create are so important