COVID-19 rapid response grantees named

by Kalani Simpson, UNMC public relations | May 22, 2020

Image with caption: Howard Fox, M.D., Ph.D.

Howard Fox, M.D., Ph.D.

Submissions for College of Medicine COVID-19 Rapid Response Grants have received . . . a rapid response.

Just 14 days after the due date for the all-hands request for College of Medicine faculty proposals to address the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, the college announced this week the approval of nine awards. This allows these investigators to begin their research immediately, rather than waiting for a lengthy extramural grant-approval process.

"These grants are typified by their focus on critical gaps in our knowledge to help patients as well as providers," said Howard Fox, M.D., Ph.D., senior associate dean for research and development. Dr. Fox noted that though the process was indeed rapid, proposals underwent a "rigorous review."

In addition to these nine projects, the College of Medicine funded a 10th, through the Lageschulte and Weese New Frontiers in Medical Research Fund.

Additional proposals also showed promise: "The research and development office is seeking more funding to continue UNMC's efforts to investigate SARS-CoV2 and the COVID-19 disease it causes, complementing the outstanding clinical care provided to those with COVID-19," Dr. Fox said.

COVID Rapid Response Grants:

  • "Determine mechanisms of COVID-19 attributable arrhythmias," Daniel Anderson, M.D., Ph.D., chief of cardiovascular medicine;
  • "COVID-19 tissue bank expansion under the Clinical Characterization Protocol for Severe Emerging Infections," Jana Broadhurst, M.D., Ph.D., assistant professor of pathology and microbiology;
  • "Risk and Outcomes of COVID-19 in Rheumatoid Arthritis: Insights into the Effects of Immunomodulatory Therapies by Leveraging Big Data," Bryant England, M.D., assistant professor of rheumatology;
  • "Evaluating for gaps in dialysis decontamination protocol and the resulting potential for rapid COVID-19 spread amongst patients receiving dialysis in the hospital and the community," Douglas Franz, M.D., assistant professor of nephrology;
  • "Deciphering SARS-CoV-2 and Angiotensin Converting Enzyme-2 (ACE2) interacting interphase," Sushil Kumar, Ph.D., assistant professor of biochemistry and molecular biology;
  • "Preclinical Evaluation of BET Inhibition as a Novel Therapeutic Option for COVID-19," St. Patrick Reid, Ph.D., assistant professor of pathology and microbiology;
  • "Novel Nasopharyngeal Nanofiber Swabs for High Efficiency Capture and Extraction of COVID-19 Samples," Jingwei Xie, Ph.D., associate professor of surgery-transplant;
  • "Development of a Self-Collection System for Respiratory Pathogen Specimens," Wesley Zeger, D.O., associate professor of emergency medicine;
  • "CNS ACE2 overexpression potentiates neural and cardiovascular events following coronavirus infection in mice," Irving Zucker, Ph.D., Hubbard Professor of Cardiovascular Research.

Lageschulte and Weese New Frontiers in Medical Research Fund grant:

  • "Screening of CoVID-19 specific protease based anti-viral inhibitors," Siddappa Byrareddy, Ph.D., associate professor of pharmacology and experimental neuroscience.

Dr. Fox also wanted to recognize College of Medicine faculty who have received extramural funding for COVID-19 related work, including Drs. Andre Kalil (internal medicine, infectious diseases), Paul Fey and Joshua Santarpia (pathology and microbiology), Russell McCulloh (pediatrics) and Nora Sarvetnick (surgery-transplant).

Dr. Broadhurst also has extramurally funded work in addition to this latest COVID Rapid Response Grant.

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