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UHN researchers will lead or co-lead seven projects to identify new therapies and help inform health policies in the fight against COVID-19. (Logo: UHN StRIDe Team)

UHN researchers are among those across Canada awarded nearly $110 million Thursday through the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR)'s "COVID-19 Rapid Research Funding Opportunity."

In this round, $8.25 million will be provided for seven projects that are led or co-led by UHN researchers.

The projects use diverse strategies to fight COVID-19.

Examples include Dr. Douglas Lee's project, which will use artificial intelligence and statistical techniques to analyze large sets of health data from patients in Ontario and Alberta. By looking at health outcomes of those who are at risk or have developed COVID-19, the research team will be able to identify medications that affect the severity and outcomes of the disease, as well as help gauge whether changes in healthcare, in response to the pandemic, have impacted those living with chronic cardiovascular conditions.

Other projects led or co-led by UHN researchers include:

  • Drs. Angela Cheung and Margaret Herridge looking at the effects of COVID-19 on patients up to one year after infection;
  • Dr. Murray Krahn examining how the pandemic has affected the use of the healthcare system by Canadians;
  • Dr. Robert Rottapel exploring whether severe symptoms are caused by certain patients' own immune systems and whether 'destructive' autoantibodies are the cause;
  • Different projects researching whether severe symptoms can be averted through the use of:
    • Dr. Kevin Kain looking at nutritional supplements such as vitamin D and zinc;
    • Drs. Ewan Goligher and Patrick Lawler examining medications including the blood thinner heparin;
    • Dr. Vladimir Dzavik researching the diabetes drug semaglutide.

This current round of funding will provide a total of $109.7 million to support 139 research teams across Canada. These projects include clinical trials, observational studies, implementation science or other relevant study designs to address COVID-19-related vaccines, diagnostics, or therapeutics; clinical management and health system interventions; and social, policy and public health responses and consequences.

This round complements a first round, which was announced in March and provided $55.3 million to support 100 research teams across the country.

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