Office of Research backs new scientific study into COVID-19 pandemic

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April 23, 2020

The Ohio State University has launched a funding program for a series of research projects to rapidly address critical health and community problems associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

Six projects have been awarded a total of $263,718 of COVID-19 Seed Funding from the Office of Research. The projects involve research teams from colleges and departments across the university and are expected to be the first round of ongoing research into the pandemic.

Richard Gumina, associate professor of internal medicine, is the lead principal investigator for one of the projects. The study will obtain blood samples from SARS-C0V-2 positive patients with and without cardiovascular manifestations of COVID-19. About 100 patients will have their blood analyzed for markers to understand why some people have cardiac involvement while others do not.

“We hope we can detect changes in either cell profiling or epigenetics that might play a role in identifying those who are at risk for cardiac involvement, and develop testing to identify those patients early,” Gumina said. “And then also to be able to understand the pathology that occurs during infection so that we might develop novel therapeutic approaches to treat patients before they get too sick.”

The seed funding is not only targeting research into the virus itself, but also social science investigations that examine everything from crisis communications during the pandemic to the impact on workers at all levels of the U.S. economy.

“Ohio State, with its multidisciplinary approach, is uniquely positioned to provide innovative solutions to combat the impacts of this global pandemic, and we want to do everything possible to support our outstanding researchers in these efforts,” said Morley O. Stone, senior vice president for research. “With these seed grants, we will quickly advance our understanding of COVID-19 and its impacts to help us better address the pandemic we’re facing around the world.”

Gumina said the research funding and a fast-tracked application and approval process is critical as the novel coronavirus continues to spread. He credits the Office of Research for acting swiftly and laying the groundwork for future scientific discovery.

“It’s such a time-sensitive issue. The usual mechanisms that we would normally go through for funding for these types of ideas are just too slow to be able to meet the needs here,” he said. “I think the foresight to provide this seed funding will enable us to secure these needed samples for discovery research. Once the samples are obtained, there will be many more studies that will benefit down the road.”

Learn more about the COVID-19 projects Ohio State supports.