Afshin Beheshti, PhD

President of COV-IRT

Our Mission: Working Together Toward Effective Therapeutic Development for COVID-19

The COVID-19 International Research Team (COV-IRT) is a community of scientists driving research into COVID-19. This interdisciplinary group from over 75 institutions worldwide is coordinating projects focused specifically on SARS-CoV-2, including determining heterogeneity of the viral genome sequence, analyzing host response to COVID-19 disease, characterizing potential co-infections, and identifying potential therapeutic targets for preclinical and clinical development.

COV-IRT connects molecular biologists, viral epidemiologists, computational biologists, statisticians, coronavirologists, microbiologists, aerobiologists, and clinicians who are identifying new potential therapeutic targets in RNA-Seq datasets from COVID-19 patients with laboratory research scientists who can validate the suitability of those therapeutic candidates and further drug development.

The purpose of the COVID-19 International Research Team is to rapidly improve our understanding of SARS-CoV-2 and develop a vaccine and/or therapeutics against SARS-CoV-2. We have formed a multidisciplinary team of researchers and will use a large consortium open science model to combine data, expertise, and labor to accelerate the process of finding a vaccine and/or therapeutics. Our second goal is to provide the public free tools and resources to help bring the most accurate information for COVID-19 and help mitigate the spread the of COVID-19. Lastly, we will apply our current methodologies and tools for future pandemics.


  • Enhance public datasets to reveal host infection dynamics for SARS-CoV-2 to improve medical treatment options for COVID-19 patients.
  • Determine and design optimal targets for therapeutics against SARS-CoV-2.
  • Create new drug delivery systems based on targets.
  • Test newly developed therapeutics in both in vitro and in vivo SARS-CoV-2 models.
  • Apply for human clinical trials.
  • Create new tools and resources for COVID-19
  • Establish a multi-institutional collaborative team for rapid response for current and future pandemics

Computational Expertise

Clinical Experience

Laboratory Proficiency

Human & Virus Genetics