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 South Dakota COVGEN Team

Amy Elliott, PhD


Chief Clinical Research Officer, Center for Pediatric & Community Research, Avera Research Institute

Professor & Co-Division Chief, Department of Pediatrics, University of South Dakota School of Medicine

Christine Hockett, PhD


Director of Community Research, Center for Pediatric & Community Research, Avera Research Institute

Assistant Professor, Department of Pediatrics, University of South Dakota School of Medicine

Jyoti Angal, MPH

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Director, Clinical Research, Center for Pediatric and Community Research, Avera Research Institute

Our Hub


The story of the COVID-19 outbreak in rural, Midwestern communities is uniquely defined by flares in meat-packing plants and long-term care facility hotspots, as well as few social restrictions when compared with the rest of the country. Our long-standing community research presence and the existing telehealth infrastructure of our institution positions our team to understand the health needs of this region and investigate the long-term impacts of this time period on the next generation.


Avera Center for Pediatric and Community Research (CPCR) is part of the Avera Health system, a large rural health network serving more than 1 million people across the local region, as well as a multitude of telehealth services in more than 250 hospitals and clinics throughout the US. The Avera Health service area includes 14 federally-recognized tribal communities, and historically serves those most at-risk. Our research efforts are influenced by the need in our local community and the impact it will have on generations to come.

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Our Initiative

We aim to understand how the COVID-19 pandemic may influence the developmental trajectory and overall health of the populations we study. We have leveraged an existing longitudinal cohort of nearly 3,500 children and are actively enrolling pregnant women to reach approximately 2,200 additional mothers and infants over the next few years. With this cohort, our research team is learning about the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on pre- and post-natal stress, home environment, parenting styles, and child development.


Additional efforts of our research team that focus on the impacts of COVID-19, include a COVID-19 NICU Registry, epidemiologic modeling of COVID-19 in South Dakota, and several pharmaceutical trials aimed at addressing the local needs in our area in response to COVID-19.

Our Funding 

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