As the COVID-19 pandemic uproots the lives of people everywhere, the global research community is ramping up efforts to find ways to tackle the virus. Scientists at St. Michael’s Hospital were given a boost in the form of funding from St. Michael’s Hospital Foundation’s Research Innovation Council (RIC).
Members of the Council — a group of St. Michael’s Foundation donors who pool their donations and select high-potential research projects to support — usually meet each June to vote on the projects they will fund. But this year their investment meeting was moved up to support science that take on COVID-19 — in the Foundation’s first-ever online event.
The 25 RIC members were given the choice of three game-changing projects. Dr. Sharmistha Mishra and her team are creating a mathematical model to deploy population-specific interventions based on geography and demographics. Dr. Paul Dorian and his team aim to build a simple defibrillator to help COVID-19 patients get more oxygen into their lungs. And Drs. Fahad Razak and Amol Verma plan to use artificial intelligence to reduce the rate of COVID-19 transfer from long-term care to acute care.
After two rounds of intense deliberation, the need for more crucial data won out. Dr. Mishra was awarded $190,000 in funding.
Dr. Mishra is an infectious disease physician whose research focuses on the mathematical modeling of virus transmissions. She and the Research Group in Mathematical Modeling and Program Science will work with colleagues across a number of institutions (including Drs. Stefan Baral, Matthew Muller, Stephen Hwang, Rafal Kustra, Jeff Kwong, Adrienne Chan, and others) to carry out the research.
“We are so grateful to the Foundation for the privilege of supporting the local response in the GTA,” Dr. Mishra says. “The funding will help us produce data-driven, population-specific strategies to flatten the curve in our local communities.”