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SciLifeLab launches national COVID-19 research program

Published: 2020-05-07



Image credit: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

A total of 67 COVID-19 research projects – on everything from virus diagnostics and high-throughput serology, to biomarkers, drug discovery and environmental virus profiling – are part of the national research program SciLifeLab is now launching together with Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation. The projects focus on combating the corona pandemic by leveraging the SciLifeLab infrastructure.

At the end of March, SciLifeLab launched a call for COVID-19 research, with funding from Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation. The call was open to researchers all over Sweden, and aimed at creating a comprehensive program to fight the coronavirus. In total, 285 applications were submitted and 67 have now been granted funding. In addition to their ability to create knowledge of direct benefit to combat the corona pandemic, projects were selected based on scientific quality and capacity to create synergies, collaborations and contributions to open data.

Nine research areas

The 67 projects, which are funded with 50 MSEK from Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, are categorized into the following nine research areas:

  • Biobanks for COVID-19 research
  • Diagnostics for virus
  • Viral sequence evolution
  • High-throughput and high-content serology
  • Biomarkers and systems immunology
  • Host cell systems biology and targets
  • Drug discovery and repurposing of drugs
  • Environmental virus profiling
  • Data-driven research – models and AI

Further, the SciLifeLab board has decided to allocate 12 MSEK to coordinating the program and connecting it to the SciLifeLab infrastructure, to further strengthen the effects of this effort.

“I am incredibly pleased that we have been given this opportunity to be able to give immediate support to our fantastic research community, which will now create new knowledge about the corona virus in close collaboration with SciLifeLab. It feels good for all of us researchers to be of immediate benefit in various ways. Now, we see the value of having a strong basic research and a national infrastructure in the life sciences that can be quickly mobilized during a difficult crisis situation”, says Siv Andersson, Co-Director of SciLifeLab.

Aims of the program 

The purpose of the national program is to increase the Swedish research community’s capacity to produce useful data and knowledge about the corona pandemic, both now and and in the case of future pandemics. Furthermore, the program aims to create and implement better tests, provide a clearer real-time overview of the pandemic, integrate data across technologies and research domains, and create better predictive models. All projects also contribute to open data and the national COVID-19 data hub.

“We have worked hard with the 285 applications that were submitted, and the projects that were selected for funding. This national program can benefit from SciLifeLab’s infrastructure and data center in its research. We hope that this initiative will create a strong research program on COVID-19 in Sweden, to study the virus and disease at the molecular, cellular, patient- and population levels, and thereby contribute data towards making better predictions and decisions on medical and non-pharmaceuticals interventions”, says Olli Kallioniemi, Director of SciLifeLab.

“The research community has made a fantastic contribution. In a very short period of time, many have redirected their research to wholeheartedly try to understand and combat the corona virus. Many initiatives have been taken by individual researchers and many new collaborations have emerged in a short time, both between researchers and between researchers and other actors. As chair of the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation, I am very pleased we are able to support the very important research through various initiatives with a total of 130 MSEK“, says Peter Wallenberg Jr., Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation.


More information

Read more about program and the projects on: SciLifeLab national COVID-19 research program