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Snow Medical funds COVID-19 research

11 May 2020
MBI researchers will benefit from generous donation
A $5.5m gift to the Universities of Sydney and Melbourne will aid coronavirus research gaps and fast-track economic recovery.

The Snow Medical Research Foundation (Snow Medical) is providing $5.5 million in funding for priority COVID-19 research projects that target the critical answers we need as a nation to return to work quickly and safely and to rebuild our economy.

The research will be led by a national collaborative consortium of Australia’s two NHMRC Centres of Research Excellence focused on emerging infectious diseases and pandemic response: the Sydney-based Centre of Research Excellence in Emerging Infectious Diseases (CREID) and Melbourne-based Australian Partnership for Preparedness Research on Infectious Diseases Emergencies (APPRISE).

Snow Medical founder Terry Snow said: “COVID-19 has had a devastating effect on Australia and the world – this is the biggest thing to hit the globe since 1945 and it will have a lasting impact for years to come. Government has stepped up – and now is the time for the community to play a role. All these measures are aimed at getting Australians back to work, making treatment more effective and efficient and getting our economy working again.” 

Snow Medical chair, Tom Snow, added: “We want to help Australia’s best and brightest to focus their efforts on this huge national and global challenge.

Funding will be deployed to these four priority projects

This will help our health system to provide faster, more individualised care for COVID-19 patients, and will develop advances in an innovative clinical trials system to accelerate the testing of new therapeutics developed in Australian research institutions.

This will provide greater detail about COVID-19 infection within the Australian community. It will help us better understand infection spread in our most vulnerable groups, such as the elderly, those with compromised immune systems or multiple chronic diseases, health care workers, close contacts of patients with COVID-19 and patients who feel well. Importantly, this project will develop systems that will strengthen our national capability to respond to future emerging infectious diseases.

The biobank and detailed sample information will be a national asset that can be used by researchers to investigate protective immunity, genetic changes in the COVID-19 virus, infectivity and to develop new antiviral treatments and vaccines. Initially it will help provide a detailed understanding of infection dynamics in Australia – when patients become infectious, how infectious they are and how long they remain so. This information is essential to refine the duration of isolation needed to prevent spread from patients to their contacts.

In combination with other patient information, this test will help medical staff rapidly determine the appropriate level of care required in hospital or the community. This will facilitate early transfer of those likely to become severely ill into intensive care, increasing their likelihood of recovery.  

This very generous donation will help Australia lead in the fight to contain the spread of COVID-19 in the community, better protect health care workers, and offer the best care to individual patients.
Professor Tania Sorrell, MBI co-Director