Across our University community, faculty, staff, students, and alumni are making significant contributions to the battle against COVID-19—in many cases garnering global attention for their leadership and impact.
• UofT Medicine virologists Samira Mubareka and Robert Kozak based at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre, together with a McMaster University scientist, have isolated and reproduced the virus, of benefit to teams around the world working on its genomic profile and on vaccine development.
• Pharmacy professor Keith Pardee is working on tools to make it faster and cheaper to carry out widespread tests for COVID-19, particularly in remote parts of the world—a W.H.O. global priority.
• UofT alumni brothers Paul and John Lem, founders of Spartan Bioscience, are developing a mobile, hand-held testing kit—“the world's smallest DNA analyzer”—for production in the next few weeks.
• Dalla Lana School of Public Health epidemiologists David Fisman and Ashleigh Tuite are modeling data to forecast the spread of disease and answer three fundamental questions we all have: When will it peak? How big will it be? When will it end?
These remarkable scientists and innovators are advancing immediate and tangible solutions to treat, halt, and reverse the spread of the pandemic.
Spurred by the need to accelerate and multiply these efforts, the University of Toronto has created the Toronto COVID-19 Action Fund to support projects at UofT and its hospital partners across the Toronto academic health science network, with the potential for rapid results and direct impact on the health of individuals, communities, and on the front lines of care.
Together, the University of Toronto and its hospital partners have already invested $6 million in the Toronto COVID-19 Action Fund. We are hoping to match that amount with a call for donations. The funds will be granted in their entirety within the next few weeks to scientists at UofT and its hospital partners for initiatives with the potential for immediate impact. This includes, but is not limited to the following areas of differentiating strengths at UofT:
• Antiviral and vaccine research
• New diagnostics and therapeutics
• Redeployment of research labs to support testing and quick development of new test measures
• Rapid production scale-up of ventilator technologies, masks and other essential health safety equipment using innovative 3-D printing technologies
• Public health social and policy interventions, dealing with disease transmission, response systems, and crisis management
• Examination of the many dimensions – economic, cultural, sociological – affected by the crisis and strategies for recovery as the pandemic abates.