The Big Ten Conference announced on Monday the formation of a 14-member task force for emerging infectious diseases as a response to the COVID-19 pandemic.


Ohio State’s representative is Dr. Susan Koletar, the director of OSU’s division of infectious diseases.


The task force, formed at the request of new Big Ten commissioner Kevin Warren, is formed to provide counsel and medical advice for the conference’s students, coaches, administrators and fans.


"These are unprecedented times in our world and the focus of any conversation taking place in college athletics right now is the health, safety and welfare of students and the public," Warren said in a press release issued by the Big Ten.


"We are truly blessed to have a collection of world-class research institutions with the resources and talented medical experts on campus that allowed us to quickly assemble this task force to address a global pandemic. We are thankful to have the Task Force in place moving forward to allow the Big Ten Conference to position itself at the forefront of this issue and to share best practices for the management of and response to emerging infectious diseases now and in the future."


Dr. Chris Kratochvil, associate vice chancellor for clinical research at the University of Nebraska, will serve as the task force’s chair. The University of Nebraska Medical Center played a key role in treating the Ebola virus in 2014. It is home to the National Quarantine Center, the nation’s only federal quarantine unit, as well as the National Biocontainment Training Center.


Through weekly conference calls, the task force has been working to assist the Big Ten and its institutions with establishing best practices both short- and long-term related to the pandemic. The group provided input during discussions regarding the cancelation of winter and spring sports and will provide guidance about decisions involving students’ eventual return to campus.


According to the OSU website, Dr. Koletar’s clinical specialty has been related to infections in immunocompromised hosts, particularly HIV-infected and transplant recipients. She received her bachelor’s and medical degrees from West Virginia University.


Koletar has been listed among America’s Best Doctors by U.S. News and World Report since 2002.


brabinowitz@dispatch.com


@brdispatch