Chan Zuckerberg Initiative, CZ Biohub and UCSF aim for 1,000 COVID-19 tests a day

SOURCE: Josh Edelson/AFP
The partnership will ensure a higher capacity for COVID-19 clinical testing.

By U2B Staff 

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Prompted by an executive order from California Governor Gavin Newsom, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) is collaborating with the University of California San Francisco (UCSF) to increase the volume of local clinical testing for COVID-19. 

UCSF will be working with Facebook creator Mark Zuckerberg’s joint philanthropy initiative with wife Dr Priscilla Chan, the Chan Zuckerberg Initiative (CZI) and the Chan Zuckerberg Biohub (CZ Biohub) to help front-line healthcare facilities and local authorities within the Bay Area increase testing capabilities at least up to 1,000 tests per day. 


 As of late, UCSF Health has been administering the tests to inpatients at hospitals, symptomatic patients entering through the university hospital’s emergency department, and to outpatients at the UCSF Respiratory Screening Clinic who are suspected cases. The current testing capacity for the university is at least 60 to 100 patients per day. 

The partnership with CZI and CZ Biohub will create a temporary expansion of the existing UCSF laboratory, which is federally and state-certified for diagnostic testing. UCSF will lease a space adjacent to the CZ Biohub at Mission Bay. This new expanded lab space will employ robotic technology for high-throughput testing. 

The university will also be able to benefit from CZ Biohub support and collaboration in operations, bioinformatics, and the development of new testing protocols. 

This newly expanded testing capability will be directed first to UCSF’s sickest inpatients, followed by symptomatic out-patients that have yet to be tested. As additional capacity becomes available, this service will be able to further assist health departments and community testing. 

Clinical testing
More support will be given to nearby health centres as testing capabilities increase. Source: Justin Sullivan/Getty Images/AFP.

The Chan Zuckerberg Biohub is a nonprofit research organisation that serves as an avenue for wide-scale research collaboration between the Bay Area’s leading institutions. This includes UCSF, University of California Berkeley, and Stanford University. 

Leading experts from these institutions join forces with CZ Biohub’s innovative internal team to advance research on underlying diseases and develop new technologies that will lead to actionable diagnostics and therapies. 

“At the CZ Biohub, we are sprinting to assist UCSF to significantly and rapidly expand their clinical laboratory testing for COVID-19,” said Biohub co-president, Joe DeRisi who is also a professor of biochemistry and biophysics at UCSF. 

“This is not just with purchases of equipment, but with operational support, informatics, and protocol development, all within an expanded UCSF Clinical Laboratories (CLIA) lab facility, adjacent to the CZ Biohub.” 

DeRisi has also previously contributed to the identification of the SARS virus in 2003. 

In order to contribute more manpower to this initiative, over 100 UCSF volunteers have registered to keep up with the demand for a higher capacity of testing capabilities. 

While the initial goal is to get over 1,000 samples per day, throughput is dependent on other factors such as registering samples. 

“UCSF’s partnership with CZ Biohub, in place since the Biohub’s inception, has never been more important than at this crucial juncture in the COVID-19 pandemic,” said UCSF Chancellor Sam Hawgood. 

“The executive order (from the California Governor) will enable us to make valuable headway in addressing the needs of patients in the coming months.”

“Dramatically expanded testing capacity — as well as rapid deployment of testing to all those who need it — is essential to stemming the spread of COVID-19,” added CZI co-founder and co-CEO Dr Priscilla Chan. 

“We’re thankful for Governor Newsom’s leadership through this crisis and encouraged to see this partnership come together so quickly.”


The CZ Biohub is also connecting UCSF and other Bay Area hospitals that need more COVID-19 tests with Stanford Medicine. 

Stanford Medicine has recently developed and launched an in-house test earlier this month and also hopes to increase capacity to more than 1,000 tests per day. 

The CZ Biohub is also helping to facilitate connections between UCSF and other Bay Area hospitals that need more COVID-19 tests with Stanford Medicine. 

Stanford, which developed and launched an in-house test earlier this month, also hopes to increase clinical testing capacity to more than 1,000 tests per day within the coming days.