Chancellor Malatras Announces SUNY Upstate Medical University to Construct a COVID-19 Testing Laboratory at the University at Buffalo to Increase Capacity and Speed Up Analysis as SUNY Campuses Reopen

January 31, 2021

Ready March 1st, Testing Capacity to Increase 75% or by 150,000 Tests for a Total of 350,000 Tests Per Week Across SUNY with Results Being Returned to Campuses within 24 Hours

SUNY is investing $120,000 to Purchase the Equipment to Process the COVID Tests

UB Lab to be Staffed by Quadrant Biosciences in partnership with SUNY Faculty and Student Medical Researcher Teams; Facility to Handle Weekly COVID-19 Saliva Testing for All SUNY Campuses in Western New York

Chancellor Malatras Makes the Announcement During Visits to University at Buffalo and Buffalo State College Today

Photos from Today’s Visits are Available Here

 

Buffalo, NY State University of New York Chancellor Jim Malatras announced today that SUNY Upstate Medical University will construct a new laboratory at the University at Buffalo to increase capacity and speed up analysis of Upstate’s COVID-19 saliva test.

Chancellor Malatras recently increased testing frequency of all students, faculty, and staff on campus to at least once a week and the new Upstate Medical and partner Quadrant Biosciences lab at UB will be able to process 150,000 tests a week, increasing the total testing 350,000 tests per week across SUNY, with results being returned to campuses within 24 hours. The lab will be operational by March 1st.

SUNY is investing $120,000 in the expansion by purchasing the equipment to process Upstate Medical’s COVID-19 test at the new lab. Additional funding will be provided by joint partner Quadrant Biosciences, a New York based molecular diagnostics company. The UB laboratory will be staffed by Quadrant Biosciences in partnership with SUNY faculty and student medical researcher teams, as the site handles weekly saliva testing for all SUNY campuses in Western New York.

Upstate Medical and Quadrant Biosciences co-developed the Clarifi COVID-19 test, the world’s number one ranked saliva test according to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. The test is accurate for detection of all common strains of the virus, including the United Kingdom variant that has been found in New York and more than half of the States. The test also detects asymptomatic cases, which is crucial for SUNY campuses to safely reopen in the spring. FDA approval of Upstate’s saliva test allows for additional laboratories to be used for testing analysis.

Chancellor Malatras made the announcement today from University at Buffalo, as he met with President Satish Tripathi and Upstate Medical University President Mantosh Dewan. Chancellor Malatras also visited Buffalo State College President Katherine Conway-Turner. Both campuses were conducting pre-semester testing before in-person classes resume for the spring semester.

All students returning to campus are required to test negative for COVID-19 immediately prior to or upon return to campus, and students, faculty, and staff will be tested weekly throughout the semester primarily using Upstate’s saliva test to identify any new cases. Students testing positive may quarantine on campus housing or at their residence for the semester if living off-campus.

"Today’s announcement is the best of SUNY—an all hand’s on deck approach to collaborate to combat this virus—with Upstate Medical and UB joining forces to expand testing capacity that will help meet the challenge of weekly testing of all students, faculty, and staff on campus during the spring semester," said Chancellor Malatras. "We also want to provide our testing outside of our college borders into the broader community, and this expansion will provide additional long-term capacity to do so. My thanks to President Tripathi, President Dewan, and President Conway-Turner, and their teams. Everyone at SUNY is important in our battle against this virus."

SUNY Board Trustee Eunice Lewin said, "I am overjoyed to see students returning to our SUNY campuses for the spring semester so they may return to their studies. This is not to be taken for granted with the ongoing pandemic, and I know it has involved a dedicated focus throughout SUNY. My thanks to Chancellor Malatras, Presidents Satish Tripathi and Dr. Mantosh Dewan, and their teams for bringing the world’s number one saliva testing laboratory to Western New York, adding testing speed and capacity to help keep our students, faculty, and staff safe."

University at Buffalo President Tripathi said, "Along with the health and safety guidelines already in place at UB, weekly surveillance testing using Upstate Medical’s COVID-19 saliva test will help ensure a safe and productive semester for our entire university community. We are very pleased to be able to host Upstate Medical and Quadrant Biosciences at UB."

Upstate Medical University President Dr. Mantosh Dewan said, "Upstate is proud to now be operating a laboratory on the University at Buffalo campus to help process COVID-19 tests from SUNY campuses across the state. We thank President Tripathi and his team for making this possible so quickly. This collaboration is a wonderful example of how members of the SUNY system can help one another, and we are very pleased to be a part of this important project. Upstate’s advances in saliva testing have proven to be accurate and fast so it makes great sense to utilize this critical technology in order to help our fellow SUNY institutions reopen safely and allow students to focus on the spring semester with a sense of safety and peace of mind."

CEO of Quadrant Biosciences Rich Uhlig said, "We are excited to be a part of this critically important project to expand COVID testing resources in New York State. Having just recently shared the MedTech Project of the Year award with Upstate Medical for the development of the Clarifi COVID-19 saliva test, this represents still another example of the great success of our ongoing collaboration with SUNY."

Buffalo State President Conway-Turner said, "Buffalo State College is excited to welcome back our students for a safe, successful, and academically-engaged spring semester. While mask wearing, washing hands, and social distancing will remain a community priority and focus, I am proud of our dedicated COVID-19 response team for their tireless work to add a new layer of protection this semester—weekly surveillance testing for our on-campus population. I am especially grateful for the more than 200 faculty and staff members on campus for raising their hand to volunteer to assist with this important endeavor. We at Buffalo State thank Chancellor Malatras for his steady guidance during this challenging time in higher education and for remaining committed to making the student experience the best it can be."

Chancellor Malatras announced that all SUNY campuses will increase the frequency of SUNY’s mandatory COVID-19 testing to weekly testing of all students, faculty, and staff who regularly report to campus. Healthcare students who have volunteered to help with COVID response will be made available to campuses to help administer tests. To date, approximately 2,500 students have signed up to volunteer. Since the 2020-2021 academic year began in August, SUNY has conducted 764,777 tests with a 0.55 positive percentage rate. The 7-day positivity rate at UB is 0.43 percent, versus 5 percent in Erie County. Preliminary data suggests in-person instruction has not been a vector of the spread.

As part of the campus visits, Chancellor Malatras is meeting with students, faculty, staff, and local officials as he reaffirms the spring semester guidance, which was announced last November, and includes pre-testing of all students prior to the start of the semester, mandatory pre-semester quarantine of students, mandatory mask wearing at all times, even when socially distanced, no spring break, uniform compliance and enforcement standards, expanded mental health and wellness services, and a student’s bill of rights for greater transparency.

About SUNY Upstate Medical’s Pooled Surveillance Testing

SUNY currently has the capacity to process approximately 200,000 tests per week, until the UB site allows for 350,000 test per week, thanks to a series of major breakthroughs at Upstate Medical. Both the New York State Department of Health and FDA approved an individual saliva swab test developed by Upstate Medical and Quadrant Biosciences. By combining this groundbreaking individual saliva swab test with Upstate Medical's state-approved pooled testing protocol, SUNY was able require regular COVID-19 tests on students, faculty and staff on SUNY campuses throughout the fall semester.

Both the individual test and the pooled test developed by Upstate Medical and Quadrant are done using saliva swabs rather than swabs inserted in a person's nose.

Individuals administer the tests themselves by swabbing their mouths. Samples are given to Upstate Medical and combined into a pool, which is tested for COVID-19 virus. A negative test means that all 10-25 people in the group are presumed to be coronavirus-free at the time of testing.

A positive test for the pool requires each individual saliva sample within the pool to be tested again to pinpoint the positive case or cases. The rapid retesting does not require people in the positive pool to return to submit an entirely new sample. This greatly accelerates the process and expands testing capacity.

About the State University of New York
The State University of New York is the largest comprehensive system of higher education in the United States, and more than 95 percent of all New Yorkers live within 30 miles of any one of SUNY’s 64 colleges and universities. Across the system, SUNY has four academic health centers, five hospitals, four medical schools, two dental schools, a law school, the state’s only college of optometry, and manages one US Department of Energy National Laboratory. In total, SUNY serves about 1.3 million students in credit-bearing courses and programs, continuing education, and community outreach programs. SUNY oversees nearly a quarter of academic research in New York. Research expenditures system-wide are nearly $1.1 billion in fiscal year 2021, including significant contributions from students and faculty. There are more than three million SUNY alumni worldwide, and one in three New Yorkers with a college degree is a SUNY alum. To learn more about how SUNY creates opportunity, visit suny.edu.


Share this:

       

 
Contact:
Holly Liapis
518-320-1311
Email the Office of Communications