In this together: a snapshot of collaborative research efforts in Cambridge and beyond
COVID-19 is a global public health emergency that requires national and international collaborative efforts. Cambridge is playing its part, drawing on its strengths in strategic partnerships and interdisciplinary research to ensure that skills and resources across the globe are effectively combined to maximise impact against the novel coronavirus.
The skills of Cambridge researchers are being harnessed and redeployed to their best effect against the wide-ranging impact of COVID-19.
Research efforts encompass prevention, intervention and treatment, bringing together clinical and academic colleagues to contribute to the collective fight to protect lives and livelihoods. By establishing collaborations with other research institutions, industrial and charity partners in key disciplines and activities and connecting subject experts across Cambridge and around the world, our research is making meaningful contributions to containment and recovery in both the short and longer term.
Here are some of the initiatives being worked on by staff across the University.
'Membrane on a chip'
Researchers who merged ideas and concepts from laboratories in the UK, California and New York have developed a human 'membrane on a chip’ that allows safer and easier monitoring of how drugs and infectious agents interact with our cells and which could speed up screening of drug candidates for COVID-19
Three Cambridgeshire NHS Trusts collaborated in the UK national priority vaccine trial, rapidly assembling a team of over 70 research staff to test the safety and efficacy of a novel-coronavirus vaccine in healthy staff at high risk of COVID-19 infection. The nationwide COV002 trial involves over 10,000 healthy volunteers in 19 UK centres.
Dr Estée Török
Dr Estée Török, who led the COV002 trial, has over 20 years' clinical research experience in infectious diseases in the UK and south-east Asia. She has also been contributing as a study doctor to the RECOVERY trial, a randomised controlled trial of potential treatments for COVID-19, which is the world’s biggest trial of drugs to treat COVID-19 patients. She shares her thoughts on the biggest challenges we face relating to the pandemic and the extraordinary colleagues she has worked alongside since March.
The shift to face masks
In June, Cambridge researchers, who are usually part of a team modelling the spread of crop disease, published findings to support the immediate, universal adoption of facemasks by the public. They found that even basic homemade masks can significantly reduce transmission if enough people wear them when in public. As the UK shifts towards requiring masks in more public settings, they call for an information campaign with clear instructions on how to make and safely use homemade masks