A message from Director Costas Spanos

A message from Director Costas Spanos
Photo Credit: Noah Berger

Institute responds to coronavirus crisis

We find ourselves in extraordinary times. As our research community faces the coronavirus pandemic, our thoughts turn to what contributions we can make to mitigate the challenges we see. What can come out of our labs, over our advanced networks, off our 3D printers that could ease the burdens society now confronts?

Over nearly 20 years, CITRIS and the Banatao Institute have researched how technology can respond to challenging conditions in California and around the world – from wildfires and earthquakes to the health of an aging population and the future of a workforce augmented by robotics and AI. Even under a shelter-in-place order, our work continues as an Institute committed to addressing society’s pressing challenges — and we now set our sights on the coronavirus.

Our newest effort, launched March 26, is CITRIS’s leadership in the new C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute, which was announced nationwide simultaneously with a call for proposals related to COVID-19 mitigation, due May 1, 2020. CITRIS has also pivoted with its annual seed-funding program to issue a special call for virus-related technology proposals, due April 24.

CITRIS Health, a leader in telehealth, is expanding efforts with international partners to create innovations in care delivery and to address supply chain issues to get test kits and Personal Protection Equipment (PPE) into the hands of clinicians. The CITRIS Invention Lab is producing ventilator adaptors and face shields. We are hearing from our CITRIS People and Robots team how robotics can play a critical role in disinfecting environments and potentially even testing patients. The CITRIS Policy Lab is calling attention to the shift to online education, and how it’s leaving disadvantaged students behind. We are also working with EECS faculty on novel contact-tracking methods, and there too, our Policy Lab has a key role to play on issues regarding privacy and security.

CITRIS Foundry companies are also stepping up. Aluna, which received FDA approval for its portable spirometer last week, is developing comprehensive materials for children with asthma, including emergency backpacks.

These are some highlights of all the work underway. We’ll be updating you as this effort continues. In the meanwhile, we offer our best wishes that you and your loved ones stay safe and well.

Warm regards,

Costas Spanos
CITRIS and the Banatao Institute