Long-COVID Treatment Database April 19, 2022
Shreya Dundumalla (DO `24)
In 2019, Shreya Dundumalla graduated from Drexel University with a bachelor of science
degree in journalism and a minor in biology. Ms. Dundumalla was the first in her family
to graduate from an American university and she was often tasked with interpreting
legal and medical files for her family. At Drexel, she discovered her passion for
work lay at the intersection of language and science, leading her to deviate from
the traditional pre-med route to pursue journalism, a field that requires translation
In speaking with Ms. Dundumalla, she shared, “Medicine is its own language for those
of us who are fortunate enough to have the resources to learn it. Being a doctor requires
the intellectual challenge of knowing how to treat your patient, but often overlooked
is its creative challenge of being able to educate your patient in order for them
to take care of themselves.”
Ms. Dundumalla is currently involved in a long-term research project that seeks to
create a uniform database for those experiencing long-term effects of COVID-19. The
database also provides consistent treatment recommendations for physicians treating
patients experiencing long-COVID. Below, Ms. Dundumalla shares her journey to research
and the impact she hopes it will have.
What prompted you to pursue research?
In undergrad, I originally pursued research thinking it was just another requirement
to get into medical school but ended up having a deep appreciation for how research can shape both your personal
and career growth. By defaulting to a textbook education in undergrad and preclinical
years of medical school we tend not to go outside of our comfort zones. Working on
research projects helped me have autonomy in an often stagnant learning process by reminding myself
that my own project could be making a difference, no matter how small, in the field
I will work in one day.
What are you currently researching?
There are so many uncertainties with COVID that research has expanded on in the past
few years. More recently research has been trying to understand COVID’s long term
effects. Physicians first noticed patients recovered from COVID have been coming in
complaining of the same symptoms. After identifying that COVID-19 can result in sequelae
lasting months after initial disease recovery, physician clinics specifically tailored
to seeing these patients with COVID sequelae, better known as ‘long-COVID’ started
popping up. Each long-COVID clinic has their own standards for measuring and treating
long-COVID symptoms. A patient complaining of brain fog 3 months after COVID may be
assessed and treated completely differently if they move or decide to seek their treatment
at a different institution.
This variation does not give healthcare workers a greater understanding of long-COVID
and such treatment measures that may result in better patient outcomes. With how new
COVID is, our healthcare system still has not figured out a set of procedural guidelines
for physicians to follow when patients present with long-COVID symptoms. Our project
identified this deficit and aimed to close this communication gap between physicians
and the general public.
We first tried to establish a database of long-COVID clinics around the country that
could be easily accessible to patients and clinicians. This database proves especially
useful for lead clinicians to refer to other institutions to improve upon their own
practices or to create new practices. This can also be useful for physicians that
are looking to create brand new clinics to look at nearby clinics in their area and
specifically tailor their new clinic to a niche in long-COVID treatment not provided
by other clinics nearby. Patients can also find this database useful while looking
at clinics in their area and the services they provide and clinic requirements before
initial patient visits. After establishing a database of over 100 clinics across the
country, we identified what information new and old clinics could benefit from by
distributing a survey to all lead clinicians.
Where is this research being conducted?
My mentor for this project was Dr. Benjamin Abramoff, the lead clinician in UPenn’s
Post-COVID Assessment and Recovery Clinic. This project was with The University of
Pennsylvania Perelman School of Medicine alongside other clinicians part of American
Academy of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation Long COVID collaborative from The
University of Colorado, University of Texas Southwestern, Albert Einstein and Johns
What were your responsibilities in the research project?
I was the lead researcher on this project. My responsibilities first involved establishing
our database of nationwide long-COVID clinics where I then had to contact the lead
clinician to include them in our study. From there, I was involved in creating the
objectives in our research study and design from what knowledge we wanted to gain
in the study to interpreting and portraying our data findings in a way that could
easily help clinicians.
What is the broader impact of your research?
We created survey questions focused on three major areas of these clinics 1.) clinic
infrastructure 2.) treatment and clinical models 3.) patient follow-up and clinic
collaboration. The first part of the survey would be particularly helpful for clinics
looking to create their own long-COVID clinic by having an understanding of the logistics
of how other clinics function from their patient intake to other healthcare departments
that work to support the clinic. Most significant was helping clinics identify their
own clinical obstacles as this could be a foundational basis for physicians looking
to create a new clinic. The second part of the survey aimed to identify a set of guidelines
all physicians could follow in treating specific long-COVID symptoms to reduce clinical
variation between institutions. The last part of the survey examined how clinicians
would follow-up with patients including multi-disciplinary methods of extended treatment.
This part also aimed to establish a long-COVID collaborative network between physicians
at different clinic institutions to share resources, ideas and guidelines for a more
cohesive long-COVID treatment nationwide.
*The work of Ms. Dundumalla and her team was cited in the article “The Implications
of Long-COVID on Rural Communities,” which was published in the Journal of Rural Health.
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