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A joint venture between The University of Melbourne and The Royal Melbourne Hospital

07 May 2020

New medical foundation invests in COVID-19 research funding

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 specialist Centres of Research Excellence focused on emerging infectious diseases and pandemic response – the Centre of Research Excellence in Emerging Infectious Diseases (CREID) and the Australian Partnership for Preparedness Research on Infectious Diseases Emergencies (APPRISE).

“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,” said Terry Snow, Founder of Snow Medical.  “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 getting our economy working again.” 

Tom Snow, Chair of Snow Medical, added, “We want to help Australia’s best and brightest to focus their efforts on this huge national and global challenge. This consortium is particularly notable because of its national reach and collaborative networks - it draws on research expertise from over 15 Universities and Medical Research institutes, their affiliated public hospitals, State Health Departments,  public health authorities, pathology services and the Australian Red Cross Blood Service – to provide a truly national picture and coordinated approach to beating COVID-19. 

Funding will be deployed to these four priority projects:

  • State of the art data science and imaging analysis using artificial intelligence and machine learning to build a secure, national electronic data analytics platform.
  • Faster, more accurate national tracking of the spread of COVID-19. 
  • A national biobank of highly characterized samples from symptomatic and asymptomatic COVID-19 positive individuals.
  • Blood and genetic markers of COVID-19 to accurately measure illness severity and predict the risk of becoming seriously ill.

Professor Sharon Lewin, Director of the Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity (Doherty Institute), a joint venture of the University of Melbourne and The Royal Melbourne Hospital, and chief investigator for APPRISE said: “The large injection of funds supports the development of critical national platforms for the current pandemic while building capacity for future pandemics.

“Platforms for data analytics and biobanking of samples will help to improve care for people with COVID-19 and provide researchers with essential resources to accelerate understanding of many aspects of the virus, including how it spreads and affects the immune system,” Professor Lewin said.

Professor Tania Sorrell who is Director of the University of Sydney’s Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity and the lead investigator in CREID said: “This very generous donation will help Australia lead in the fight to contain spread of COVID in the community, better protect health care workers, and offer the best care to individual patients.

“Critically, the vision of Snow Medical has enabled CREID and APPRISE to leverage the joint power of their national research networks in the fight against COVID-19.”

Infectious diseases physician and trials expert at the University of Sydney, Professor Tom Snelling said: “Australia’s brisk and effective response to COVID-19 is the envy of many countries, but we can’t afford to become complacent. This donation will give researchers a critical boost in their race to find and implement science-driven solutions for the pandemic.”

About APPRISE

The Peter Doherty Institute for Infection and Immunity, The University of Melbourne and The Royal Melbourne Hospital
Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity, The University of Sydney
University of Western Australia
The Kirby Institute, University of New South Wales
Menzies School of Health Research, Charles Darwin University
Monash University
The Westmead Institute for Medical Research, The University of Sydney
Pathwest Laboratory Medicine
Geelong Centre for Emerging Infectious Diseases, Deakin University
University of Queensland
University of Adelaide
Griffith University 
James Cook University
Australian Red Cross Blood Service
Queensland Health
Burnet Institute
Hunter New England Local Health District

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