Andrew Brooks, Who Developed a Coronavirus Spit Test, Dies at 51

Andrew Brooks, a research professor at Rutgers University who developed the first salivary test for coronovirus, died on January 23 in Manhattan. He was 51.

The cause was a heart attack, his sister, Janet Green, said.

In April 2020, when coronovirus tests were rare and to get them longer the lines, Drs. Brooks made news worldwide when the Food and Drug Administration gave his technology emergency approval, promising to radically increase the speed and safety of the testing process.

“Instead of having a nasal or oropharyngeal swab that is placed in the back of your nose or throat, all you have to do is spit in a tube.” He told Bill Hamer of Fox News, Adding, “It does not require a health care worker to collect it six inches away from an infected person.”

Dr. In the 10 months since Brooks was approved, health care workers have conducted more than four million tests using their approach, and remains one of the most reliable means of determining if someone has coronavirus.

In a statement by Gov. Phil Murphy of New Jersey, Drs. Called Brooks “one of the unsung heroes of the state” who “undoubtedly had a life saved.”

Andrew Ira Brooks was born on February 10, 1969 in Bronxville, NY to his father, Perry H.W. Brooks was a diamond setter. His mother, Phyllis (Heitner) Brooks, was a schoolteacher.

In addition to her sister, she is survived by her mother; His wife, Jill (Larson) Brooks; And three daughters, Lauren, Hannah and Danielle. Their first two marriages ended in divorce.

Dr. Brooks grew up in Big Bridge, NJ, where he earned money by performing magic shows at birthday parties. Although he was adept at tricks involving pigeons and rabbits, his real byte had close-up handwork, especially card tricks.

He played Varsity Golf at Cornell, where he majored in animal science, initially planning to become a vet. But after a summer internship at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in Manhattan, he became fascinated with the study of human disease. He received his doctorate in microbiology and immunology in 2000 from the University of Rochester.

After working at the university’s medical center for four years, he returned to work at Rutgers in New Jersey, and in 2009 joined his cell and DNA repository, a university-owned company that specializes in biological research Provides data management and analysis for

Dr. Brooks became the company’s chief operating officer, realizing he had a disposition for the business side of science. He expanded the company from just a few dozen employees to about 250, working with almost every major pharmaceutical company.

“Most scientists I meet are not interested in, or coincidentally interested in, the commercialization of what they do,” Dr. Jay Tiskfield, a professor and chief executive officer of Rutgers. “Andy understood that if you want something to come out and be used, you have to be a player. You can’t trust other people.”

In 2018, the company, by then called Rutgers University Cell and DNA Repository Infinity Biologics, decided to go private; Dr. Brooks was named chief executive. The university agreed to the move but held a significant stake in the new company, now called Infinity biologics.

The resources and experience he gained in the repository helped Dr. to develop the coronovirus sputum test. Made it relatively easy for Brooks, which he did in partnership with two other companies, Spectrum Solutions and Accurate Diagnostics Labs.

They were used to conduct genetic testing through saliva, and “it was not rocket science,” Drs. Tiskfield said, to adapt those techniques to extract RNA from coronaviruses. The company also had thousands of tubes in its hand that she could use to collect samples.

After FDA approval, Drs. Brooks faced a different challenge: scale. He immediately needed more equipment and staff to produce tests and process the results. But a blatant call from the White House offering help, and Drs. A multi-dollar loan held by Tiskfield allowed the company to rapidly expand its analytical workforce to additional analytical instruments and almost overnight.

As important as the actual saliva test was, it was Dr. Brooks had the ability to rapidly scale the operation – in the midst of taking it private – which most impressed Dr. Tishfield.

“I’ve been doing this for 50 years, and I’ve met all kinds of people,” he said. “But Andy, he was a force of nature.”

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