The Scottish Government has awarded £649,993 to Strathclyde researchers to support five projects that aim to contribute to the national and global efforts to combat the COVID-19 and its effects.
The project funding was awarded following a Rapid Research in COVID-19 call for research bids by the Chief Scientist Office on 25 March and sees 55 projects across Scottish universities share almost £5 million.
The research projects aim to better understand the effects of infection, develop and test new diagnostics and treatments, investigate new disease surveillance approaches, inform interventions to prevent transmission of infection, support the mental health of frontline health and social care workers, and understand the physical and mental health implications of lockdown measures.
The successful projects were chosen by an independent expert panel and are in a position to start without delay and will be complete within six months.
The Strathclyde projects which were funded were:
- Dr Damion Corrigan, for the development of a low cost, rapid, high-throughput COVID-19 assay for isolation/back-to-work decisions for key workers
- Dr Kieren Egan, for an acceptability, feasibility and usability study of a trusted home-based exercise application to support the health of family carers during the COVID-19 crisis
- Dr Lynn Williams, to examine whether social distancing has made us healthier and encourage the adoption, maintenance and sharing of positive changes.
- Professor Alec Morton to examine the impact of pandemic response upon public mental health and disparities.
- Dr Fraser Scott, to explore the repurposing of Strathclyde Minor Groove Binders, a new class of potential treatment for a wide range of infectious diseases, towards the treatment of COVID-19. The team which includes Professors Colin Suckling and Iain Hunter are working with Public Health England to investigate whether one compound, MGB-BP-3, which is currently going through clinical trials for the treatment of Clostridium difficile, can be re-purposed.
Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal & Vice-Chancellor of the University of Strathclyde, said: “The world faces an unprecedented challenge due to the COVID-19 pandemic and we are committed to putting the full force of our expertise, research and resources behind efforts to tackle the virus.
Together, the Strathclyde community has responded magnificently to the battle against COVID-19 and I am delighted to see these five important projects receiving funding.”
Health Secretary Jeane Freeman said: “Scotland is home to some of the most respected researchers and scientists in the world. COVID-19 is the biggest challenge we have faced in our lifetimes and it is vital that we capture the potential of the extraordinarily strong research base here to contribute to the global efforts to tackle and mitigate the impact of it.
“I know many academics are already thinking about how their research can be used during this national and international emergency. This funding enables universities and research institutions to immediately draw on the very best science and methodologies available to build on our understanding of this virus, develop new treatments, stop infection and support people’s mental and physical health.”
Chief Scientist for Health Professor David Crossman said: “The range of projects – both scientific subject areas and the different research institutions – that are receiving funding will help us understand many aspects of this terrible disease. The projects selected for funding all aim to give results as quickly as possible.
“Scotland is in a strong position to undertake clinical research and the response from universities and research institution to this COVID-19 research call emphatically reinforces that view.”