03 February 2021

Researchers and innovators share in $6 million for COVID projects

Almost $6 million in State Government money has been awarded to local researchers and innovators to tackle health and wellbeing challenges related to the COVID-19 emergency.

The funding – drawn from the Future Health Research and Innovation Fund – will support 18 projects across three separate streams, these being:

  • Research Grants – 10 projects valued at $2,107,953
  • Innovation Grants – 3 projects valued at $147,420
  • Infrastructure Grants – 5 projects valued at $3,733,101

Recipients, working across the health system, universities and private institutions include:

  • Professor Merrilee Needham from the South Metropolitan Health Service who has been awarded $880,000 to build a digital WA-wide research platform, known as TRANSFORM, which will provide access to quality, real-time prospective data on COVID-19 patients for a range of research purposes.
  • PathWest Laboratory Medicine’s WA COVID-19 Collaborative (WACIC), led by Clinical Professor Dominic Mallon, which will receive $788,436 to establish a longitudinal cohort study of Western Australians who have recovered from COVID-19, their close contacts, and people who will be among the first to be vaccinated.

    WACIC will monitor these groups over a two-year period, collecting blood, saliva, and mouth swabs. It will share data with all WA researchers.

    Minimal community transmission in WA to date has given WACIC a unique opportunity

    to examine and compare immune responses to infection and different types of vaccine without the effect of exposure or re-exposure to the virus which could otherwise change the nature and duration of the initial immune response.

  • A team from East Metropolitan Health Service’s Centre for Implant Technology and Retrieval Analysis (CITRA), led by Dr David Morrison, which has been granted $366,320 for a project that will invest in infrastructure to test current and innovative Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and other medical devices over the next two years.

    The equipment will be made available to hospitals, universities, companies and innovators wishing to test and develop novel PPE for the Western Australian market and beyond.

    The pandemic has renewed focus on the need for local supply, including crucial medical equipment, and this investment will ensure the necessary equipment is available to support the design, manufacture and testing of equipment locally.

The Department of Health’s Assistant Director General Clinical Excellence Division Dr James Williamson said the projects highlighted the wide range of research underway across Western Australia that had the potential to provide important new insights into the SARS-CoV-2 virus and challenges arising from the COVID-19 emergency.

Dr Williamson said the TRANSFORM and WACIC projects were especially timely given the imminent commencement of COVID vaccination in Australia, while the CITRA project could boost the State’s ability to manufacture personal protective equipment and strengthen its supply security.

Visit the Future Health Research and Innovation Fund website for the full list of recipients.


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