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Five UCD-led research projects awarded COVID-19 Rapid Response Funding

Five UCD-led research projects awarded COVID-19 Rapid Response Funding

(Content from UCD Homepage - UCD Communications)

(opens in a new window)Minister for Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Heather Humphreys TD, today announced that five University College Dublin led research projects have been awarded funding under the newly-established national, coordinated research and innovation response to the COVID-19 pandemic, complementing the ongoing research work already underway in higher education institutions.

More than 350 applications were received for this initiative overseen by a coordinated (opens in a new window)Rapid Response Research, Development and Innovation programme established by the (opens in a new window)Health Research Board (HRB)(opens in a new window)Irish Research Council (IRC)(opens in a new window)Science Foundation Ireland (SFI)(opens in a new window)IDA Ireland and (opens in a new window)Enterprise Ireland.

The UCD-led projects have been awarded just under €1.1 million in total and are among the 26 projects awarded a total of €5 million which were announced by Minister Humphreys TD. 

One of the UCD-led projects to develop and supply necessary reagents and materials for SARS-CoV-2 testing for hospitals in the Ireland East Hospital Group, has been awarded just over €540,000 and is the highest funded project of the 26 projects funded.

Minister Humphreys TD said, “Research, development and innovation will play a significant role in tackling the COVID-19 pandemic.  The projects announced today are part of a national drive to find solutions to the challenges we face. Right across the country, our research community in our higher education institutions and businesses, both indigenous and foreign owned, have mobilised to address these key issues.” 

“The projects announced today, which take in health and social care as well as policy and industry, will help to address how we can ease the restrictions over time and get the country back up-and-running again.”

Minister for Health Simon Harris TD said, “Research and development is critical to supporting Ireland’s National Action Plan in response to COVID-19 and in navigating a way forward for individuals, communities and society as a whole. In these extraordinary circumstances, I am delighted to see such collaboration and coordination in a collective battle against COVID-19. These projects have real potential to have an impact on the health and wellbeing of patients, families, healthcare workers and the healthcare system. 

“In particular, having suitable treatments or vaccines is the best exit strategy from COVID-19 and the related restrictions we are living with so I am committed to ensuring a coordinated and proactive approach is taken to ensuring that COVID-19 patients across all settings in Ireland have access to new and emerging treatments as part of clinical trials.”

(opens in a new window)Professor Gil LeeUCD School of Chemistry(opens in a new window)Professor Patrick Mallon, Consultant in Infectious Diseases at St Vincent’s University Hospital, UCD Professor of Microbial Diseases and Director, UCD Centre for Experimental Pathogen Host Research (CEPHR), and (opens in a new window)Dr Virginie GautierUCD School of Medicine and a principal investigator in UCD CEPHR, have been awarded just over €540,000.

They have received this funding for a research project to develop and supply necessary reagents and materials for SARS-CoV-2 testing for hospitals in the Ireland East Hospital Group. 

The local and reliable supply will help enable the country to meet its testing requirements and will provide important information for clinicians, planners and policy-makers.

Professor Gil Lee said, “This Award will allow a world-class, multi-disciplinary team of biomedical researchers to develop a local source of nanoparticles, buffers and advanced magnet separation devices to ensure that the RNA genome of the SARS-CoV-2 virus can be isolated and detected to support the Irish healthcare system.” 

“Unlike the systems currently in place in Ireland, this system is not automated which means that it is more flexible and not tied to a specific piece of plastic or swab. It will allow teams of clinical scientists to provide up to 15% of Ireland’s NA (nucleic acid) diagnostics.”    

“The NA test is the gold standard because it allows the virus to be detected more reliably and in individuals who do not show symptoms, so called, super carriers.”

Professor Patrick Mallon, said, “This close collaboration between clinicians and scientists results from long term investment in infectious diseases research at UCD, focused on CEPHR. This infrastructure, linked to the All-Ireland Infectious Diseases Cohort, enables rapid application of research findings back to the frontline services and will significantly contribute to the national response to COVID-19.”

Dr Virginie Gautier, said, "This project is the result of concerted UCD collaborative efforts. I wish to thank the UCD COVID-19 Response Team, who have been instrumental in identifying the key expertise in the UCD research ecosystem and providing the support needed for the development of our interdisciplinary project.” 

This project has been funded by Science Foundation Ireland.

(opens in a new window)Professor John Lambert, UCD School of Medicine has been awarded just over €199,000 for a project to determine baseline characteristics and outcomes of patients with COVID-19 under the care of the Infectious Diseases Department at the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital. 

The study will take place in Dublin’s North Inner City, an area with high levels of social deprivation and a high incidence of COVID-19 infection. 

Professor Lambert said, “We don’t know if survivors of COVID-19 will have long term complications in terms of quality of life or possible long-standing damage to the heart, lungs and brain which are targeted by this virus. Our longitudinal follow-up study with these pati

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