UCD Conway recruiting and training volunteers for testing
The UCD Conway Institute of Biomolecular and Biomedical Research and its network have been central to the response to the Covid-19 crisis. In addition to conducting the initial genome sequencing on SARS-CoV-2, the Conway Institute also put out a call through its research community for volunteers with relevant expertise in DNA and RNA extraction and PCR (a method for creating copies of a DNA sample).
The call drew over 180 volunteers, a number of whom included PhD students and postdoctoral staff that were deployed to St Vincent's University Hospital Covid-19 testing laboratory under the guidance of teams led by Professor Paddy Mallon (UCD School of Medicine), Dr Sinead McDermott and Professor Kirsten Schaeffer (Consultant Microbiologists at St Vincent’s University Hospital).
Conway Fellow, Professor Helen Roche was one of the first volunteers trained by the Army Cadets to carry out Covid-19 contact tracing in the UCD call centre established by the Professor Patrick Wall and Associate Professor Mary Codd from the UCD School of Public Health, Physiotherapy and Sports Science. Professor Roche herself has now trained more than 120 volunteers to carry out this work.
Conway Fellow, Dr Nicola Fletcher who recently joined UCD as an Ad Astra Fellow in UCD School of Veterinary Medicine has been involved in training technicians for the new testing facility at Enfer Group in Naas, Co. Kildare. Dr Fletcher trains the undergraduate student technicians in how to work safely with the potentially live virus, which must be inactivated in the first step of the diagnostic test. Dr Fletcher has been working with Dr John Browne from Professor Stephen Gordon’s group in the UCD Veterinary Science Centre on this initiative.
Conway Fellow, Professor Catherine Godson has worked extensively on enabling the setup of additional Covid-19 testing capacity in St Vincent’s University Hospital, and is now working with clinical and academic colleagues to explore possible routes to establishing alternative de novo testing platforms for Covid-19.