How Rutgers and Marken Partnered in the Race Against COVID-19

While many have been terrified by an invisible enemy, a group of drivers have known for sure that they are transporting and carrying the deadly coronavirus to the hands of Rutgers healthcare heroes with plastic face shields and white gowns.

Those drivers from Marken know that their mission of mobilizing serial bio samples is a key component to the multiple races for the life and well-being of the community, the country, and the world. Simply put, without these other kinds of heroes delivering nasopharyngeal swabs and blood to the Rutgers lab facilities, the cycle would not be completed.

“This project was very interesting because as a healthcare transport company we have been involved with clinical trials, with laboratories, universities. We were seeing the challenges (with the virus) through our big presence in Asia. We knew about the quarantine and shutdowns and ultimately the decision to be part of a humanitarian effort was made because there are only a few opportunities to give back and we wanted to have a meaningful impact,” said Dan Bell, senior vice president for the Americas Region at Marken. “We are a patient-centric business because everything we touch has a patient on one end.”

Marken is a subsidiary of the UPS Healthcare division dedicated to biological samples shipments worldwide. Rutgers was about to initiate a pioneering study of health care workers exposed to COVID-19 as well as clinical trials for treatments and needed to transport samples in a secured and timely way.  

It only took a weekend for Kara Moore, director of Corporate Intelligence and Assessment for Rutgers’ Corporate Engagement Center; Reynold A. Panettieri, vice chancellor for Translational Medicine and Science at Rutgers University; and Dan Bell to reach an agreement for Marken to transport the samples for the Rutgers COVID-19 trials as a generous pro bono gift to Rutgers. 

The cohort has been running at Rutgers Cancer Institute, Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, and University Hospital in Newark.

“This is a ground-breaking study that went from concept to full recruitment in 14 days. Such a monumental task could not have been accomplished without an incredibly dedicated team of investigators and our Marken and UPS Express Critical® colleagues who have provided critical logistics,” said Panettieri who is leading the study. 

“We produced very specific guidelines and trainings. We had open conversations with the drivers, evaluated possible scenarios and challenges. We motivate our drivers because we know that this might save a life, might help develop a medicine. It is not just to ‘go pick up a box’,” added Bell. “The ability to communicate with Rutgers was just brilliant. The best results come when everybody works together and collaborates.” 

Marken’s drivers have run an average of 150 miles per day for 53 days, making 483 deliveries as part of the fight against the virus and time.