SNSF awards two grants to EPFL for COVID-related research

Professors Sebastian Maerkl, from the School of Engineering, and Sandrine Gerber, from the School of Basic Sciences, each received a grant for their coronavirus-related research project.

Two EPFL projects received grants from the Swiss National Science Foundation, which has made CHF 28.6 million available to support 28 studies on the coronavirus. The full list was published this week.

Sebastian Maerkl’s Laboratory of Biological Network Characterisation will set up large-scale serological profiling of Covid-19 using high-throughput microfluidic immunological nano-assays. “There is a lack of diagnostic innovation in the area of emerging viruses. There is an urgent need for new, low-cost, widely accessible, high-throughput technologies, including reliable and accurate serological tests,” says Maerkl. The research will be carried out in collaboration with the team of Professor Isabella Eckerle of the University Hospitals of Geneva, an expert in the field of emerging viruses, particularly coronaviruses.

The second project, led by Professor Sandrine Gerber, is interdisciplinary. Its aim is to develop a small portable device to identify coronavirus in airports, railway stations and other places where rapid screening can help detect the disease at an early stage. “There is an urgent need for a set of measures to control the spread of the virus, reduce the severity of the disease in infected patients and ultimately prevent infection with effective vaccines. With a low-cost and highly sensitive biosensor, we are proposing an approach to overcome the limitations of current testing procedures, which should eliminate the need for biomedical staff and specialized laboratory infrastructure,” explains the scientist.

Both laboratories will use microfluidics technology in their research.

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