University of Dundee

Scottish funding for Dundee Covid-19 research project

11 May 2020

Scientists and clinicians based at the Schools of Life Sciences and Medicine at the University have been awarded funding from the Chief Scientist Office that will help identify those most vulnerable to severe symptoms of coronavirus.

The team led by Professor Doreen Cantrell, a Professor of Cellular Immunology and Professor James Chalmers, a leading respiratory disease physician at Ninewells, has been awarded £294,000 to help identify patients experiencing symptoms of Covid-19 whose condition could significantly worsen.

Professor Cantrell said, “Our research has been established to respond to a clinical need for tests that can predict early in Covid-19 infection which patients are at risk of worsening and needing intensive care treatment."

The project brings together scientific and clinical expertise to tackle this problem. Dundee is a world leading centre for mass spectrometry proteomics and has the equipment and expertise provided by Professor Angus Lamond and Dundee alum Dr Tony Ly (now at the University of Edinburgh), which would be difficult to replicate elsewhere. The proteomic systems will allow precise quantitative analysis for the many thousands of proteins in white blood cells to define cellular proteomes. The collaboration will also involve immunologists Professor Cantrell and Dr Andy Howden, all of whom will work alongside Professor Chalmers to monitor the blood of people infected with Covid-19 and hopefully identify new diagnostic tools. The work will also hope to identify new drug targets for the treatment of acute respiratory distress syndrome.

A second University project has received £194,000 to study the long-term impact of Covid-19 on patients, with a focus on the lungs. This project will be led by Dr David Connell, an Honorary Lecturer with the School of Medicine and a Consultant Physician in Respiratory Medicine with NHS Tayside.

The two projects were funded following the launch of the Scottish Government’s £5 million Rapid Research in Covid-19 funding call. The projects are able to start immediately and will be completed within six months.