Rutgers University research professor Andrew Brooks, who helped create the first saliva-based COVID-19 test, has died unexpectedly.
Brooks, 51, led the creation of the spit test for the coronavirus that received FDA emergency use authorization in April. In tandem with Spectrum Solutions and Accurate Diagnostics Labs, Rutgers University’s RUCDR developed the saliva collection methods as an alternative to nose and throat swabs.
More than 4 million of the authorized rapid response tests have been performed since March, according to a news release issued after Brooks’ death on Jan. 30. New Jersey Governor Phil Murphy called Brooks one of the state’s “unsung heroes” as the Rutgers test has “undoubtedly saved lives” throughout the pandemic.
“We cannot thank Andy enough for all he did across his career,’’ Murphy said. “He will be sorely missed by many.’’
Brooks served as a research professor in Rutgers-New Brunswick’s School of Arts and Sciences in the genetics department, while he was also an academic member of the Human Genetics Institute of New Jersey, a research faculty member in Rutgers’ Environmental and Occupational Health Sciences Institute and a member of its NIHS Center of Excellence.
He co-authored more than 70 publications and served as an adviser to the FDA as director of the Harlan (now Envigo) GeneScreen Laboratory and as co-founding director of the BioProcessing Solutions Alliance.
Rutgers-New Brunswick Chancellor Christopher J. Molloy, Rutgers Biomedical and Health Sciences Chancellor Brian Strom and S. David Kimball, Rutgers senior VP of research added: “We at Rutgers offer our heartfelt condolences to his family, including his three children, and with them we take pride in his achievements that will have lasting impact.”