Funding: Collaborative research into COVID-19 impact on dental schools receives $1.44 million grant

As the COVID-19 pandemic continues, dental school students, faculty, and support staff are among the few groups who have returned to on-site activities at universities across Canada. 

Dr. Sharat Pani, Assistant Professor of Paediatric Dentistry, Schulich Medicine & Dentistry, is part of a large collaborative research project studying this return to work and school at Canadian dental schools. Led by Dr. Paul Allison from McGill University, the project was recently selected by the COVID-19 Immunity Task Force (CITF) to receive $1.44 million in research funding.

The research involves 12 researchers across 10 Canadian dental schools, and will take place from January to December 2021. The goal of the research is to collect data that will help inform virus prevention protocols and existing data on infection rates and occupation-related infection factors in university, dental and public health communities.

Researchers will track COVID-19 infection rates among students, faculty, and support staff, investigate infection and transmission factors associated with COVID-19 cases among these groups, and immune system responses among these cases. The team will recruit 40 students and 40 practitioners each month to take part in a survey and provide a saliva sample for analysis. Dr. Pani is responsible for managing the data collection at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry and will contribute to its analysis and interpretation. 

“This funding is critical to the project, with the bulk of the cost going towards salivary analysis and banking of saliva,” Dr. Pani explained. “Most importantly, the funding allows for collected data to become part of the public domain, which means that investigators in years to come will have access to the data and analysis in its entirety.”