Chemistry faculty head up projects supported by U of T COVID-19 Action Fund

April 22, 2020 by Dan Haves

The University of Toronto will support 31 research projects through the $8.4-million Toronto COVID-19 Action Fund – set up less than a month ago to support high-impact research by U of T and its hospital partners that contributes to the global fight against the novel coronavirus.

The projects, which range from medical interventions to measures aimed at supporting the economy and vulnerable populations, were chosen on the basis of their potential to have a positive impact on individuals, communities and public health systems within a timeframe of a year or less.

Three projects are led by faculty in the department of chemistry, including Professors Robert Batey, Shana Kelley and Warren Chan.

They were selected from among 338 applicants via a fast-tracked, peer-reviewed competition. Less than 30 days elapsed between the creation of the fund and the winning projects being announced.

“The Toronto COVID-19 Action Fund is a testament to the University of Toronto’s unique ability to quickly mobilize its resources, engage the creativity and ingenuity of its researchers and draw on the strength of its partnerships with partner hospitals to respond to the most urgent public health, economic and societal challenge of our time,” said Vivek Goel, U of T’s vice-president, research and innovation, and strategic initiatives.

“COVID-19 presents an array of unprecedented global problems that require urgent attention and expertise from experts in a wide variety of disciplines – from medical specialists and public health researchers to economists, social scientists and mathematicians.

“We are confident these projects will each, in their own way, make important contributions to the global fight against this pandemic.”

Chemistry faculty projects

Robert Batey – Synthetic chemistry as a core technology platform for the response to the COVID-19 pandemic: chemistry COVID-19 core facility

Shana Kelley – Accelerated, centralized development of diagnostics and therapeutics to combat the COVID-19 pandemic

Warren Chan – A quantum dot portable diagnostic device for COVID-19

The funding for these and other projects was drawn from U of T and other university sources, including the McLaughlin Centre, Medicine by Design, partner hospitals and philanthropic donors. Successful applicants are also eligible for additional support for a trainee through a generous agreement with MITACS. 

“We would like to extend our thanks to all the scholars who submitted proposals to the Toronto COVID-19 Action Fund, and we will continue to work hard to find ways to support our researchers in their efforts to devise solutions to this crisis,” said Goel. “I would also like to thank the reviewers that provided assessment in a short period of time and our staff that worked diligently and around the clock to complete this record-setting peer review process.”

“U of T takes very seriously its public responsibility to make key contributions to the response to COVID-19, and I would like to congratulate everybody involved in the rapid creation and execution of the action fund for their tireless efforts.”

Goel noted that additional projects may be funded through the action fund as funds continue to be raised and additional partners contribute.  All those that were not selected are being directed to other funding sources, including those listed on the Centre for Research and Innovation Support’s COVID-19 research website.

Read the full story at U of T News.