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COVID-19 Response Fund: Imperial College Alumni accelerate global race against coronavirus

Professor Robin Shattock heads the @ImperialCollege lab developing a #coronavirus vaccine.

Professor Robin Shattock heads the Imperial lab developing a coronavirus vaccine.

Imperial has launched a response fund, as researchers and students battle the coronavirus pandemic, and scores of alumni have asked to join the fight.

“This new fund will help accelerate the critical work at Imperial on COVID-19. All donations, large and small, will make a tremendous difference.” said Michael MurphyVice President (Advancement)

The Imperial College COVID-19 Response Fund will supplement government and existing philanthropy to provide flexible support for vital projects in the university’s unprecedented efforts to tackle COVID-19 such as developing vaccines, improving diagnostics, advancing therapies, strengthening epidemiology and providing essential healthcare in the urgent race to defeat the novel coronavirus.

It is seeded by central funding from Imperial, with the President’s Fund providing initial financial support.

The fund’s launch follows a groundswell of offers from alumni and friends to help speed up the College’s work to tackle the global pandemic.

Imperial academics are at the forefront of efforts to prevent, control and understand COVID-19. They include Professor Neil Ferguson, Director of J-IDEA, whose landmark report spurred policy shifts on both sides of the Atlantic last week.

To support these efforts and find our more, visit the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Fund webpage.

Critical Work

Round-the-clock multidisciplinary initiatives span all four Imperial faculties, as students and staff redeploy their expertise.

Professor Robin Shattock’s team have developed a vaccine candidate that will shortly be ready for human trials.

Retrovirologist Professor Myra McClure has converted an Imperial lab for NHS COVID-19 virus testing, able to handle 1,500 samples per day.

Biomedical engineer Professor Chris Toumazou has developed a point-of-care COVID-19 test requiring no special training or lab equipment, and his team is urgently working to scale it up.

Critical work to reduce the mortality and morbidity rate include applying Professor Wendy Barclay’s pioneering work into how respiratory viruses like influenza spread to the progression of coronavirus, and Professor Peter Openshaw’s research into why some patients become severely ill while others experience only mild symptoms.

On the NHS frontline, students, doctors and other staff are volunteering in hospitals across west London, and they will need further help as the crisis intensifies.

In recent days, 280 final year Imperial medical students took their final?exams entirely remotely, for the first time at any medical school in the world. The students are now positioned to qualify as doctors at this critical time.

The new fund’s grants will be awarded rapidly and support projects from work across all of Imperial Faculties where there is the most urgent need and potential for the greatest impact.

Making a difference

The Imperial COVID-19 Response Fund will bolster support currently backing the College’s coronavirus work, including from philanthropists such as Community Jameel, charities like the Wellcome Trust and the UK’s Medical Research Council.

Michael Murphy, Vice President (Advancement) at Imperial College London, said “The response from alumni and friends to offer support for the College’s essential work on the pandemic is an inspiration. Imperial’s critical mass of scientific expertise, frontline medics and innovators from all disciplines is already making a profound difference. We can be proud of our achievements to date, but there is a lot more we can – and will – do.

“Our alumni and friends have been leaders during this crisis. Some alumni directly serve in the front lines of the pandemic in the UK and around the world, and many have offered to support Imperial’s work through philanthropy. This new fund will help accelerate the critical work at Imperial on COVID-19. All donations, large and small, will make a tremendous difference.”

Professor Jonathan Weber, Dean of Imperial’s Faculty of Medicine, said: “I have been part of the medical faculty for many years and have spent my own career working on the front lines of global infectious disease. As Dean, I have been immensely proud of the role Imperial is playing in the global effort to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic. Imperial academics are at the forefront of advising the public and policymakers, building our understanding of the disease pathogenesis, developing new vaccines, creating new diagnostic tests, and serving along with our students at the frontline of the NHS. There is essential research to be done and we need support.”

To support these efforts and find our more, visit the Imperial College COVID-19 Response Fund webpage.

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