Researcher who led development of first FDA-approved COVID saliva test dies at 51
The renowned research professor who led the creation of the first coronavirus saliva-based test to receive FDA emergency approval died on Saturday, Jan. 23.
According to CNN, Andrew Brooks was 51 years of age when he unexpectedly passed away due to complications associated with a heart attack.
Brooks, born and raised in New Jersey, eventually became a key player in the fight against COVID-19.
He was a research professor in Rutgers-New Brunswick’s School of Arts and Sciences in the Department of Genetics, 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, and a member of the graduate faculty in Rutgers Joint Graduate Program in Toxicology.
According to CNN, Brooks' sister, Janet Green, called him "an intellect, an amazing scientist, an amazing father ... an amazing family man."
In like manner, New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy referred to Brooks as "one of our state's unsung heroes" during a January 25 news conference. The Governor said Brooks' work "undoubtedly saved lives."
"We cannot thank Andy enough for all he did across his career," Murphy said. "He will be sorely missed by many."
During 2020, Brooks spoke about the impact the saliva test had as an alternative to nasal PCR tests for health care workers.
"It means we no longer have to put health care professionals at risk for infection by performing nasopharyngeal or oropharyngeal collections," he said in a statement at the time. "We can preserve precious personal protective equipment for use in patient care instead of testing. We can significantly increase the number of people tested each and every day as self-collection of saliva is more quick and scalable than swab collections. All of this combined will have a tremendous impact on testing in New Jersey and across the United States."
Brooks is survived by his mother, sister, wife and three daughters, along with a niece and nephew, according to a statement released by Rutgers.
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