The funding focused on supporting projects which respond to the immediate and pressing needs of society arising from the Covid-19 pandemic.

Eight (8) University College Dublin projects are to receive funding under the Science Foundation Ireland (SFI) led Covid-19 Rapid Response Research and Innovation programme.

These were included among 41 projects announced by Simon Harris TD, Minister for Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science, and have been awarded just under €1.5 million of the total €5.5 million investment.

Among the eight UCD funded projects is a project entitled, ‘The COCOON study: Covid-19 coagulopathy and thrombosis: Novel prognostic and therapeutic opportunities’ led by Dr Barry Kevane, consultant haematologist at Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, UCD Conway Institute and UCD School of Medicine.

“A deeper understanding of this problem would help inform clinical decisions relating to clot prevention and treatment in this disease and would be of major clinical benefit”

This project has been awarded just under €294,000 in funding and will see Dr Kevane work with key collaborators, professor Patricia Maguire, UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science and professor Fionnuala Ní Áinle, UCD School of Medicine and ­­­­­­­co-directors of the UCD Conway SPHERE research group.

The Cocoon Study is an international project which will examine blood coagulation in Covid-19 patients and its interplay with inflammation. The study aims to address urgent clinical dilemmas and to develop novel solutions for existing diagnostic and therapeutic challenges. Using advanced artificial intelligence and genomics technologies, it will deliver enhanced thrombotic prevention strategies and a rapid diagnostic platform for personalised risk assessment.

Dr Kevane said; “Using technologies which have been developed by my colleagues professor Fionnuala Ní Áinle and Professor Patricia Maguire in the UCD Conway SPHERE research group, we intend to characterise the molecular mechanisms underlying clotting derangements in Covid-19.

“A deeper understanding of this problem would help inform clinical decisions relating to clot prevention and treatment in this disease and would be of major clinical benefit,” he added.

“The 41 projects announced today are part of a national drive to find solutions to the challenges we face now”

The Covid-19 Rapid Response Research, Development and Innovation programme was established by SFI, Enterprise Ireland, IDA Ireland, the Health Research Board and Irish Research Council.

National drive

Announcing the awards, Minister Simon Harris TD, said, “Today I am pleased to announce a further investment of €5.5 million in research and innovation related to Covid-19. It is clear this virus is with us for a significant period of time and yet we still have a lot to learn about it.

Minister Harris added that “research, development and innovation” will play a key role in overcoming the virus over the next year.

“The 41 projects announced today are part of a national drive to find solutions to the challenges we face now, and to help us prepare to live in a changing environment that requires new thinking and innovative approaches. I would like to congratulate all of the researchers receiving funding today and thank them for their efforts in Ireland’s collective response to Covid-19.”

This latest announcement builds on SFI’s previous investment of €8 million across 17 Covid-19 research and innovation projects. All of the projects funded have been internationally peer reviewed at the assessment stage.

For more information on the 41 funded projects, visit https://www.sfi.ie/research-news/news/minister-harris-covid-19/index.xml.

Pictured (l-r) Professor Fionnuala Ní Áinle, UCD School of Medicine and Professor Patricia Maguire, UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, both co-directors of the UCD Conway SPHERE research group, with Dr Barry Kevane, Consultant Haematologist at Mater Misericordiae University Hospital who is leading the funded COCOON study.

By Stephen Larkin

Published: 25 September, 2020

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