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22 Dec 2021

Doherty Institute researchers awarded $1.7 million to investigate brain injuries caused by long COVID

Researchers from the Doherty Institute have received $1.7 million from the Medical Research Future Fund to investigate the effect that SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern may have on the brain.

Lead Investigator University of Melbourne Associate Professor Vicki Lawson, a Laboratory Head at the Doherty Institute said the focus of the research will be to understand how SARS-CoV-2 variants of concern contribute to brain injury and the brain fog that has been described by patients, sometimes many months after infection.

“This information will be used to predict the risk of brain injury from variants of concern, such as the recently described Omicron variant, and develop diagnostics to identify and monitor patients with COVID-associated brain injury,” Associate Professor Lawson said.

“Insights gained from the study will then inform health policy by assessing the comparative value of health interventions to either prevent infection or manage the health care burden of long-COVID associated brain injury.”

The grant is part of the MRFF Coronavirus Research Response, which was established to enable Australian researchers to continue to drive innovation and contribute to the global efforts to control the COVID-19 outbreak and understand the longer-term impacts of COVID-19 on patients.

Doherty Institute Director Professor Sharon Lewin, who is a Chief Investigator on the project, lauded the MRFF for funding the research.

“In some circumstances, acquiring COVID-19 can lead to debilitating long-term health impacts,” Professor Lewin said.

“It is incredibly important that we work to understand the cause of these injuries so we can mitigate the risk of it occurring.”