COVID-19 stories: The latest research, innovations and community outreach in response to the pandemic

Schulich Medicine & Dentistry continues to lead on a global scale during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Faculty and learners at the School are exploring new ways to test and treat the virus, gaining a better understanding of symptoms, designing and supplying PPE for frontline workers, supporting seniors and providing care to people in the community.

Latest COVID-19 stories:

Exploring the ethics of human challenge studies
As part of The Working Group for Guidance on Human Challenge Studies, Dr. Charles Weijer along with 13 other international experts were tasked with developing guidance for the World Health Organization on the ethical permissibility of purposefully infecting informed and willing healthy volunteers with COVID-19 in order to test a vaccine.

Ontario’s COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund supports three innovative projects
With new funding from the Ontario government’s COVID-19 Rapid Research Fund, researchers at the School are addressing food security, serologic testing, treatment and vaccination. Congratulations to Shawn Li, PhD, Jason Gilliland, PhD, and Dr. Claudio Martin.

Prototype uses firefighter’s mask to increase capacity of ventilators in hospitals
In light of a continuing global concern about the shortage of ventilators, a research team including Associate Professor Dr. Tarek Loubani, designed a prototype that uses protective gear meant for firefighters in order to modify existing non-invasive ventilators to make them safe to use for COVID-19 patients.

University investment pushes pandemic research forward
The “Research Western Catalyst Grant: Surviving Pandemics” supports interdisciplinary projects at the University that will contribute to a broad range of evidence, tools and guidelines into disease outbreaks. Five research projects at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry received funding through the initiative – congratulations to Robert Bartha, PhD, Jason Gilliland, PhD, Bridget Ryan, PhD, Dr. Saverio Stranges and Lloy Wylie, PhD.

NOVID-20 Virtual Run supports coronavirus research
A Canadian charity is ensuring runners across the globe can still enjoy the camaraderie of a running club, all while pounding the pavement in support of coronavirus vaccine research at Schulich Medicine & Dentistry.

Online tool provides ‘digital shield’ for health care system
An online COVID-19 assessment and triage tool is providing rapid care for patients in Southwestern Ontario. The Patient Navigator, developed by Dr. Daniel Pepe and a local team, uses on-call providers as part of the process.

Team first in world to treat COVID-19 with specialized dialysis
As part of a randomized controlled trial, a London-based team led by Dr. Chris McIntyre is the first in the world to treat a patient with COVID-19 using a modified dialysis device. The device gently removes a patient's blood, modifies white blood cells and returns them to fight hyperinflammation. It is being tested with critically ill patients at London Health Sciences Centre.

Student effort offers lifeline to isolated seniors
Three BMSc and Neuroscience students, along with their community partners, are offering a little joy to seniors isolating alone during the COVID-19 pandemic. The Stay in Touch initiative brings messages of hope – and perhaps a few smiles – to doorsteps and computer screens across the community.

Researchers using algae to help quickly produce COVID-19 test kits
With new funding from Mitacs, researchers are collaborating with Suncor to rapidly develop serological test kits for COVID-19 that would determine if someone has been previously infected and has the antibodies for the virus. They are employing a method that uses algae as a way to produce the testing reagent.

Researchers explore the possibility of using geostatistics to track COVID-19 transmission hot spots
Peter Rogan, PhD, demonstrated that geostatistical analysis could be accurately used to pinpoint the location of a radiation plume in the event of a nuclear accident. He is exploring how this decades-old method, used by miners to determine where to dig for gold, might be used to help understand emerging hot spots in the COVID-19 pandemic.

Researchers join global initiative to study loss of smell in COVID-19 patients
As part of an initiative called the Global Consortium for Chemosensory Research, Dr. Leigh Sowerby is studying the sudden loss of smell in COVID-19 patients. He and team of researchers are asking individuals with confirmed or presumptive cases of COVID-19 worldwide to participate in a survey to better understand this symptom.