Funding boost for COVID-19 research to support WA health

Projects led by The University of Western Australia that are focused on developing a greater understanding of the health effects of COVID-19 have received a funding boost through The Department of Health and Western Australian Health Translation Network grants program.

The projects, to be carried out by UWA’s Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, will help increase understanding of the short-term and long-term impacts of the virus on people’s health.

The grants program aims to fund high-quality COVID-19-related projects and initiatives that can help improve the practice and policy of the health system and make a difference to the health and lives of Western Australians.

UWA researcher Dr Anna Tai, a respiratory physician at Sir Charles Gairdner Hospital, will lead a team to explore the use of convalescent plasma in early treatment of COVID-19 patients, a technique where plasma from recovered patients is used to treat others who have contracted the virus.

The research, which has received $200,000 for one year, will allow scientists to study the technique which has been used to treat other viruses such as Ebola, SARS and Spanish flu, to see if it is effective in treating COVID-19. The research is in collaboration with the Institute for Respiratory Health.

UWA scientist Associate Professor Roslyn Francis and her team will examine whether inflammation associated with COVID-19 persists in the lungs and blood vessels after a person has recovered from the virus.

The study, which has received $150,000 in funding for one year, utilises fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography imaging to assess inflammation with the aim of improving the understanding of longer-term effects of the virus on patient health.

UWA Executive Dean, Faculty of Health and Medical Sciences, Professor Jon Watson said because COVID-19 was a new virus that scientists were still learning about, it was vital to carry out research to better understand its effects on human health.

“This funding boost will be put to great use by improving understanding of how COVID-19 targets the human respiratory system and also effective ways we might be able to treat people who contract the virus,” Professor Watson said.

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