Citizen Scientists to Engage in COVID 19 Research

May 26, 2020 at 03:01 pm by pj


In the wake of the coronavirus disease (COVID-19) crisis that impacts all of us, public interest in science has grown and “everyday” people are eager to support COVID-19 research happening in real-time to make a meaningful impact. Here are easy ways to do more for science from the comfort of your home, even while social distancing. After all, there is power in numbers.

Become a Citizen Scientist

Last month, the American Lung Association announced a partnership with Northwestern University and University of California, San Francisco to engage the public in a new COVID-19 Citizen Science study. The study is a smartphone-based initiative and anyone 18 years of age or older can download the free and secure app for easy enrollment.

Upon initial registration – which takes a matter of minutes – and each day thereafter, the app prompts participants to answer a handful of routine questions about potential COVID-19 exposures and symptoms that he/she might have experienced. The estimated total commitment is 5 to 15 minutes per week. The collective data will, then, help scientists better understand how the novel coronavirus is spreading and offer insight into reducing future infections.

“I have found the app very easy to use and appreciate the daily reminders,” said Amy Hoopis, who registered for the study in response to an ad she saw on Facebook. “It truly does only take a minute a day once you’re set up and it’s a helpful way to look back at how well we’re doing with distancing. It’s motivating to feel that I can contribute to medical research right now.”

Ty Aldridge, another study participant, agrees, “The app is so simple. It’s an amazing opportunity to contribute to COVID-19 research. With everything happening right now, you can feel very helpless. I found it reaffirming to be able to assist in this way.”

Word is Spreading

While study investigators have set an impressive goal of attracting 1 million people around the world to participate in this effort, as of the publish date, over 1,000 Lung Association supporters have already signed up. Many more are still needed, though! So, please join the COVID-19 Citizen Science study and encourage your friends and family to participate as well. To learn more and download the app, visit

Taking Action

The Citizen Science study is part of the Lung Association’s COVID-19 Action Initiative, our multifaceted commitment to end COVID-19 and prevent future pandemics. The COVID-19 Action Initiative will expand our ongoing respiratory research program, enhance key public health measures, and work with public and private entities to expand research collaboration and develop new vaccines, detection tests and treatment therapies. 

A cornerstone of this initiative is leveraging our existing research network and funding respiratory virus research. The research plan is three-fold:

  • Expanding COVID-19 research within the current studies Airways Clinical Trials Research Centers (ACRC) Network;
  • Funding coronavirus awards and grants for preventive research, vaccines, antivirals and to advance future outbreak preparedness;
  • Providing ACRC pilot grants to evaluate the effect of COVID-19 on patients with chronic lung disease.

You, too, can support the COVID-19 Action Initiative to help stop COVID-19 and take precautionary measures to protect public health from future respiratory virus pandemics. To make your tax-deductible gift, visit

About Our Research

In order to extend our research impact to better support lung disease patients, the American Lung Association is continually seeking innovative ways to expand and enhance the impact of our research program. We have recently embarked on a number of exciting collaborations and partnerships to leverage available research funds and extend the impact of research findings.

More than 4 in 10 Americans live with unhealthy air, and more than 33 million live with chronic lung diseases like asthma, COPD and lung cancer. In fact, lung disease is the third leading cause of death in the U.S. But research can—and doe— save lives. For over a century, the American Lung Association has advanced medical and scientific research to move us closer to a world free of lung disease, through basic, translational and clinical research. To put it simply, basic research is where all research begins to find new ideas, principles and theories that form the basis of scientific development that leads to exciting breakthroughs.

Translational research, also known as “bench – to- bedside” moves theory into medical practice and health outcomes. Clinical research is then conducted to ensure that a new treatment, device, product or procedure is safe and successful. It takes all of the pieces of this puzzle, working together to save lives through research. We’ve seen many successes, like our funded researcher Dr. Mary Ellen Avery who made a discovery in the lungs of babies with respiratory distress syndrome that saved an estimated 800,000 children over 50 years following her discovery and led her to win the national medal of science.

And when our Airways Clinical Research Centers discovered that the flu vaccine was safe for people with asthma, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention changed their recommendations so that all individuals receive the flu vaccine. This life-changing discovery is estimated to avoid 104,000 hospitalizations every year if everyone with asthma got the flu shot.

It takes all of us to work to save lives through research. Together we can watch as the number of lives saved continues to grow and we get one step closer to a world without lung disease. Medical breakthroughs pioneered by American Lung Association researchers and their colleagues worldwide have reduced the burden of lung disease on patients and their loved ones, allowing them to live healthier, more active lives.

Since 1915, our researchers have made significant contributions to the fight against lung disease by revolutionizing treatment and unlocking secrets of the body's immune system. We have funded breakthroughs in the fight against tuberculosis, identified genes that cause the development of lung cancer and cystic fibrosis, and developed new ways to treat respiratory distress syndrome. As we had pioneered the odel of using education, advocacy and research to virtually eradicate tuberculosis in the United States, we will use those same principles to ensure our nation can address today’s pandemic and is prepared to meet the challenges of future lung infections like COVID-19.

Janelle Hom is the Executive Director of the American Lung Association in Florida. Email her at  Visit