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Sunnybrook researchers awarded $1.4M in rapid response COVID-19 funding

April 22, 2020

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Scientists at Sunnybrook have received nearly $1.4 million in funding in support of high-impact research to fight COVID-19 through the Toronto COVID-19 Action Fund. The $8.4-million fund, supported by The University of Toronto, its hospital partners and philanthropic donations, will fund 31 research projects in total ranging from medical interventions to public health measures.

Dr. Samira Mubareka, a microbiologist and infectious diseases physician at Sunnybrook, and Dr. Robert Kozak, a clinical microbiologist at Sunnybrook were awarded more than $870,000 for their projects to better understand the pathogenesis of the virus. Both have been at the forefront of the COVID-19 research response at Sunnybrook, most recently isolating severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the agent responsible for the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19. “This support is so crucial to our ability to conduct real-time science. The more we can learn about how the virus behaves, the better we can act to combat it through the development of treatments and a vaccine," said Dr. Mubareka.

Dr. Jeannie Callum, an associate scientist in the Tory Trauma Research Program at Sunnybrook and Sunnybrook’s director of utilization for the Department of Laboratory Medicine and Molecular Diagnostics, was also awarded $500,000 in funding for her Convalescent Plasma for COVID-19 Research (CONCOR-1) trial studying the efficacy of using blood plasma from recovered COVID-19 patients to treat those who are currently battling the disease. She notes the urgency of the trial — describing it as a “once-in-a-100-year opportunity to answer the question of whether convalescent plasma works in a pandemic.”

Sunnybrook has been leading the clinical and research response to the global pandemic since the first cases emerged. The generous funding provided by the Toronto COVID-19 Action Fund and other donors will allow these projects to make high-impact contributions in the global fight against COVID-19. Congratulations to Dr. Mubareka, Dr. Kozak and Dr. Callum.

Read more about the fund in U of T news.