A part of the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) initiative, the RADx  Underserved Populations (RADx-UP) program will support research that aims to better understand COVID-19 testing patterns among underserved and vulnerable populations; strengthen the data on disparities in infection rates, disease progression and outcomes; and develop strategies to reduce the disparities in COVID-19 testing.


Drs. Pho, Pollack, Schneider and their teams and collaborators joined forces to create C3: Community network-driven COVID-19 testing of vulnerable populations in the Central US, a proposal that focuses on two communities who have been most impacted by COVID-19 with some of the highest rates of infection and death in the United States: 1) Criminal justice involved (CJI)– non-incarcerated people with previous history of arrest/jail/prison, probation/parole and those participating in drug-courts; and 2) Low-income Latino/a/x – community members living at 250% or below the Federal Poverty Level.[1]

These glaring COVID-19 inequities are sourced by barriers such as employment, access to social services and healthcare, and are experienced across both the CJI and Latino/a/x populations.[1] C3 aims to address these barriers by coupling misinformation correction and self-affirmation with the overarching goal to increase awareness, self-efficacy and community engagement in C3’s adapted COVID-19 testing strategy, where participants recruit their social networks into C3’s testing services.[1]

C3 builds on the Illinois research hubs of JCOIN, which aim to advances scientific knowledge of effective policies, practices, interventions, and expands their use into daily practice in health and justice settings.[1] JCOIN is comprised of two large research Centers: CTC (Coordination and Translation Center) and the MAARC (Methodology and Advanced Analytics Resource Center). In total, C3 is comprised of 8 study sites across diverse contexts in the Central US (See Table).[1]


University of Chicago is one of 32 institutions that received an NIH award through the RADx-UP program to support projects designed to rapidly implement COVID-19 testing strategies in populations disproportionately affected by the pandemic. These groups include African Americans, American Indians/Alaskan Natives, Latinos/Latinas, Native Hawaiians, older adults, pregnant women and those who are homeless or incarcerated.


It is critical that all Americans have access to rapid, accurate diagnostics for COVID-19, especially underserved and vulnerable populations who are bearing the brunt of this disease,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D. “The RADx-UP program will help us better understand and alleviate the barriers to testing for those most vulnerable and reduce the burden of this disease.”


C3 was awarded $5 million and is ready to take-off with a 9/30/20 launch date and will run through 8/31/2022. With the significant community support and partnerships C3 has established, procedures and interventions are tailored, feasible, acceptable and effective for the highly vulnerable communities that C3 aims to serve.[1]


PI’s: Mai Pho, Harold Pollack and John Schneider (contact)

Primary authors: John Schneider and Sarah Lain

Full list of contributors:

UChicago – Brewer, Hazra, Hotton, Motley, Pho, Pyra, Schneider, Taylor, Ji, Schumm, Bouris, Garcia, Pollack, Angotti, Durrell, Sarmiento

George Mason – Taxman, Zhao

Indiana University – Aalsma, Knopf, Terry

NU – Birkett, Janulis, Kandula, Phillips

San Jose State – Garcia

UArkansas – Haynes, Zaller

UI-Chicago – Jimenez

UTSouthwestern – Bhavan, Shah


See the NIH announcement here: https://www.nih.gov/news-events/news-releases/nih-assess-expand-covid-19-testing-underserved-communities


  1. Pho, M.T., H. Pollack, and J. Schneider, Community network-driven COVID-19 testing of vulnerable populations in the Central US. 2020, University of Chicago.