University of Aberdeen awarded almost £1 million to fight COVID-19

The University of Aberdeen has been awarded almost £1 million in new research funding to tackle the COVID-19 pandemic.

Six University projects have been awarded funding by the Scottish Government as part of the country’s response to the outbreak.

A total of £5 million has been made available which will support 55 rapid research projects at 15 Scottish universities.

These range from the development of new methods of testing for COVID-19 to creating new surveillance models to map the needs of the most vulnerable or ‘shielded’ individuals.

Aberdeen expertise will also be brought to the fore to examine the impact of the pandemic on healthcare workers, including an investigation into interventions which can support doctors’ well-being and promote resilience as they adapt to rapidly changing healthcare needs.

In addition, Aberdeen academics will explore the impact social distancing has had, particularly upon the elderly, and consider strategies going forward to help mitigate the effects of loneliness, reduced physical activity and management of disease, as well as how we can protect the physical and mental health of the population.

The CSO Rapid Research in COVID-19 programme call was developed to support leading research at the Scotland’s universities.

In just a few weeks it received 139 separate proposals from across Scotland’s universities for research projects.

Professor Marion Campbell, vice-principal for research at the University of Aberdeen, said the success of University projects in the funding call reflected the institution’s broad range of strengths.

She said: “The successful programme of COVID-19 research at the University of Aberdeen brings together scientists, clinicians, health services researchers, health psychologists, and public health specialists.

“The projects will also draw on the expertise and contributions of a number of successful University life science spin-out companies and existing research networks between the University of Aberdeen and other leading research institutions and companies.

“The awarding of almost £1 million of new funding will help our researchers to play their part in Scotland’s fight against COVID-19.

“Scottish Universities have an important role to play in developing new ways of testing treating and managing the novel Corona virus.”

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 ccientist 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.”

The University of Aberdeen research projects will begin in May and run until October. Funding totalling £972,870 has been awarded to the following:

  • Re-positioning of drug-discovery approaches to develop point-of-care diagnostic tests for COVID-19, led by Professor Andy Porter, £223,676
  • Development of sensitive, rapid and high-throughput antibody assays for COVID-1, led by Professor Mirela Delibegovic £101,903
  • Minimising impact on vulnerable patients: data-driven design, monitoring and adaptation of COVID and non-COVID clinical care pathways, led by Professor Corri Black, £76,212
  • To develop evidence-based interventions to support doctors’ well-being and promote resilience during COVID-19 related transitions (and beyond), led by Dr Kim Walker, £197,080
  • Protecting population physical & mental health during the coronavirus pandemic: A representative national weekly survey to understand changes, led by Professor Diane Dixon, £325,458
  • Looking after the elderly during the COVID-19 pandemic: a focus on addressing physical activity, loneliness, and help-seeking behaviour, led by Dr Kathryn Martin, £48,541

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