Imperial has announced the latest projects to win grants from its donor-backed COVID-19 Response Fund, to help tackle the coronavirus pandemic.
Some of the cutting-edge research is looking at areas such as; pandemic modelling, health inequalities, and social distancing on public transport.
Initially seeded by the President’s Fund, the COVID-19 Response Fund has been backed by almost 900 of the College’s alumni, friends and supporters.
The fund has already supported many projects to tackle the pandemic, including work to design and build emergency ventilators, develop a smartphone-based rapid test and support efforts in the race for a vaccine.
Health inequalities, pandemic modelling, patient experience, mental health and immunothrombosis
Health inequalities - Dr Laure de Preux, from the Business School, is leading a project which aims to identify social and health inequalities across different socioeconomic groups during the COVID-19 pandemic. They are particularly interested in how compliance to mobility restrictions during social distancing and reopening phases, vary across geography, and socioeconomic status, and what the subsequent impacts on health are.
Modelling the pandemic - Dr Seth Flaxman, from the Department of Mathematics, is working with colleagues in Mathematics and Imperial's MRC Centre for Global Infectious Disease Analysis, to model the pandemic across several continents and countries. Some of their previous work looking at lockdowns across Europe was recently published in Nature.
Impact of digital-first technologies on patients - Dr Ana Luisa Neves, from the Institute of Global Health Innovation, will aim to find how a shift towards digital-first technologies for primary care, such as video consultations, have impacted patients' perceptions of safety and care. They also aim to find out public expectations on how they would like to continue using digital-first models, in the future, post-pandemic.
Front-line workers mental health - Dr Dasha Nicholls, from the Department of Brain Sciences, is investigating the short and medium-term psychosocial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on NHS and social care-affiliated staff performance and wellbeing. The project will help better understand the rates of anxiety, depression, self-harm, suicide, and other mental health issues among front-line workers.
COVID-19 in BAME groups - Dr Deepa Arachchillage, from the Department of Immunology and Inflammation, is trying to understand why patients from a BAME background are at enhanced risk of immunothrombosis and developing a more severe case of COVID-19. This research could allow better targeting of therapy to reduce the contribution of thrombosis to morbidity and mortality, especially in BAME groups.
Commuting safely, vaccinations, lung cells and autoantibodies
Achieving social distancing on transport - Professor Dan Graham, from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering, is looking at ways to help achieve social distancing on public transport. Professor Graham will develop a simulation tool to test the effectiveness of various interventions, such as station restrictions, to help reach acceptable levels of social distancing.
Maternal vaccination - Dr Beth Holder, from the Department of Metabolism, Digestion, and Reproduction, will aim to find out pregnant women’s views and perceptions on maternal vaccination and use of vaccination services during the pandemic. Through surveys and interviews, Dr Holder and colleagues will collect data on issues such as how the pandemic has affected pregnant women's access to vaccinations.
Lung inflammation - Dr Cecilia Johansson, from the National Heart and Lung Institute, is studying lung cells to better understand how the SARS-CoV2 infection initiates inflammation in lower airways - which can cause pneumonia. The inflammatory response is a main determinant of the severity of disease, so it is crucial to understand how this response is initiated and regulated.
Autoantibodies - Dr Charis Pericleous, from the National Heart and Lung Institute, aims to determine the clinical relevance of autoantibodies in COVID-19 and the potential risk for patients with systemic autoimmune rheumatic disease.
Imperial College COVID-19 Response Fund
The Imperial College COVID-19 Response Fund has been established to provide a means for donors to contribute to a pooled fund that will give the College the flexibility to quickly support high-impact projects in the university’s efforts to tackle COVID-19.
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