Results of MI4 Emergency COVID-19 Research Funding (Round 2)

May 4, 2020 - The McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity (MI4) is pleased to announce funding for an additional 20 projects in Round 2 of the MI4 Emergency COVID-19 Research Funding (ECRF) program. This brings the total number of ECRF projects funded to date to 36, with a total allocation of nearly $3 million in direct research funding.

Also, as part of Round 2 of the ECRF program, MI4 is pleased to provide $67,000 in matching support towards the Internal McGill COVID-19 Rapid Response for Social Sciences and Humanities competition led by the Office of the Vice-Principal (Research and Innovation) (VPRI). Though this competition an additional 12 projects have been funded.

These disbursements have been made possible by the generosity of multiple donors to the MUHC Foundation COVID-19 Emergency Fund, totaling over $4.5 million to date, including $1.5 million for this round of funding alone. We would like to highlight the generosity of the following donors for their support: the Hewitt Foundation, the late Elspeth McConnell, the Trottier Family Foundation, A.Vogel, Alliance Quebec Chinese Association, Behavior Interactive , Mark Beaudet, John Blachford, Croix Bleue du Québec, , Future Electronics, Russell Hiscock, The Gulshan and Pyarali G. Nanji Family Foundation, James Cherry and Jane Craighead, the Henry and Berenice Kaufman Foundation, Peter Pascali, Power Corporation of Canada, the Mike and Valeria Rosenbloom Foundation, Francesco Saputo , Patricia Saputo, Murray Steinberg, Deirdre Stevenson, Maks and Diane Wulkan.

In addition, we are grateful for support from the Rossy Foundation to McGill University Advancement, as well as the Montreal General Hospital Foundation and the Montreal Children’s Hospital Foundation, for their support of projects at their respective sites as detailed below.

The community response to our call for COVID-19 research was outstanding with over 120 proposals received within 3 weeks of the call. We are deeply grateful to all the reviewers who have participated in the rapid review of these proposals.

Please join us in congratulating the following MI4 researchers on their successful submissions.

MI4 ECRF Round 2 award recipients:

LEAD INVESTIGATORS PROJECT TITLE

Nicole Basta

Real-Time Tracking of COVID-19 Vaccine Development

Lay Summary

When will we have a COVID-19 vaccine? This question is at the forefront of every discussion about COVID-19. Infectious disease epidemiologist and vaccinologist Dr. Nicole Basta and her team are developing an interactive online COVID-19 vaccine tracker to provide the public with real-time updates about progress towards developing a vaccine. This timely, critical resource will improve understanding of vaccine testing and manage expectations about when a vaccine may be available. It will also provide educational materials about the process of developing new vaccines and making them available to communities around the world. The goal of the project is to increase knowledge about and improve trust in vaccines. The platform will be updated in real-time to keep the public up-to-date.

Inés Colmegna

Amal Bessissow

David Meger

Use of Technology to Improve Effects of Social Isolation on Hospitalized COVID-19 Patients (TIES-COVID)

Lay Summary

Isolation is not conducive to health and wellbeing. Upon hospitalization, patients with COVID-19 are physically isolated. Only essential health care personnel interact with these patients, and for restricted periods of time. This isolation, though essential to avoid spreading the disease, can lead to loneliness, depression, anxiety, and fear. Rheumatologist Dr. Inés Colmegna, internal medicine physician Dr. Amal Bessissow and computer scientist Dr. David Meger are studying whether video calls from isolated patients to their loved ones can reduce negative emotions and whether this strategy can be used post-COVID-19 to combat loneliness and improve mental health in older adults.

Gonzalo Cosa

Novel Small Molecule Antiviral Agents for Treatment of SARS-CoV-2 causing COVID 19 coronavirus disease: Target Identification and Structural Optimization

Lay Summary

Creating new drugs to treat COVID-19 could save lives. Researchers at the University of Alberta have discovered a chemical compound that prevents RSV, a respiratory virus, from being infectious. McGill chemist Dr. Gonzalo Cosa is partnering with the University of Alberta to investigate whether the compound can be adapted to stop the SARS-CoV-2 virus from being infectious, slowing the spread of the disease. If successful, this new compound could be developed into a drug that effectively treats COVID-19.

Kristian Filion

Anticoagulant treatment and risk of adverse outcomes among hospitalized COVID-19 patients

Lay Summary

Blood thinning drugs may be an important treatment for COVID-19. New evidence shows that those with severe cases of COVID-19 develop abnormal blood clotting that can endanger their lives. Dr. Kristian Filion and his team, which includes several collaborators from Sungkyunkwan University in South Korea, are combing through a Korean health care database to determine whether administering anti-coagulant (blood thinning) drugs to COVID-19 patients eases their symptoms and increases chances of survival. If the research team determines that anti-coagulation drugs are effective, they could be a new tool to treat severe cases of COVID-19.

Patricia Fontela

Jesse Papenburg

A Multi-centre, Randomized, Open-label, Controlled Clinical Trial of the Safety and Efficacy of Hydroxychloroquine for the Treatment of COVID-19 in Hospitalized Children in Canada (CATCO-Kids)

Lay Summary

Can anti-malaria drugs help children with COVID-19? CATCO is a Canada-wide study that is testing the efficacy of anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to treat adults hospitalized with COVID-19. Now, pediatric infectious disease specialist Dr. Jesse Papenburg and pediatric critical care expert Dr. Patricia Fontela are performing a similar study on children to determine whether the drug can reduce the severity of the COVID-19 infection, and lead to faster recovery and shorter hospital stays. This study will be the first randomized trial in children with COVID-19, and has the potential to save young lives.

Jason Harley

Tina Montreuil

Emotion Regulation and Healthcare Professionals: Creating Research-informed Solutions

Lay Summary

COVID-19 presents an increased challenge to the psychological wellbeing of health care professionals. The added strains of caring for patients with COVID-19 and putting themselves at risk to contract the disease take an emotional toll. Affective Psychologist Dr. Jason Harley and Clinical Psychologist Dr. Tina Montreuil will investigate current coping strategies health care workers use to deal with stress, assess their effectiveness and use that information to recommend new measures to protect the mental health of health care professionals. We need frontline health care workers to get through this pandemic, and this study can help ensure their emotional wellbeing.

Lily Hechtman

Philippe Hwang

Lindsay Parr

Factors affecting positive and negative adaptation to quarantine in children and their families during the COVID-19 pandemic

Lay Summary

Quarantine measures put strain on us all. Evidence suggests that self-isolation has negative effects on mental health, including stress, anxiety and PTSD-like symptoms. These problems are worsened by quarantine-specific stressors like fear and financial strain. Dr. Lily Hechtman and her team have identified that the strain of social isolation can particularly affect families. This research project will explore child, parent, and family factors which may influence positive vs negative adaptation to quarantine. This will help identify children and families at risk and develop interventions to help them cope during and after the self-isolation period.

Matthew Hunt

Ethical tensions of implementing research during a crisis: Understanding moral experiences of healthcare providers caring for patients who are enrolled in CoViD-19 clinical trials

Lay Summary

What ethical considerations arise for healthcare providers caring for patients who are enrolled in COVID-19 clinical trials? As researchers push to identify effective treatments for COVID-19, front line health care workers are increasingly involved in caring for patients enrolled in clinical trials. This interface between pandemic research and clinical practice creates a distinctive context of care. Global health ethicist Dr. Matthew Hunt, with Dr. Lisa Schwartz and Rachel Yantzi from McMaster University, is conducting an interview-based study to better understand the moral experiences of front line health care providers in Canada, and in high and lower-resource contexts internationally. The results will help produce resources to support front line staff and promote ethically robust research.

Jonathan Kimmelman

Expert and Lay Perceptions of Translation of COVID19 Treatment and Vaccine Development

Lay Summary

Worldwide, there are many inaccurate beliefs about medicines and preventative measures that are effective against COVID-19. The result is that some people are self-medicating, hoarding potential treatments, not adhering with self-isolation measures or refusing to participate in critical COVID-19-related studies, all of which can be harmful to themselves and others. Bioethicist Dr. Jonathan Kimmelman and his team are comparing how well researchers’ estimates of when COVID-19 treatments will be available align to the perceptions of the Canadian and US populations. The results of this study will help develop more effective communications regarding COVID-19 treatments to the Canadian and US public to ensure they have the best and most accurate information.

Jonathan Kimmelman

Success Rate and Timeline for Development of Vaccines for Emerging and Reemerging Viral Infectious Diseases

Lay Summary

A vaccine is our end game for the COVID-19 pandemic. During the COVID-19 outbreak, various political leaders, public health officials and news commentators have discussed the prospect of a vaccine to stem the pandemic. Some commentators have hinted at the prospect of a vaccine being available within a year. While numerous advances in immunology, infrastructure, and molecular biology have greatly accelerated the process of identifying and testing new vaccine candidates, vaccine development—as with any pharmaceutical development—is unpredictable and time-consuming. Biomedical ethicist Dr. Jonathan Kimmelman, epidemiologist and vaccinologist Dr. Nicole Basta and pediatric infectious disease specialist Dr. Jesse Papenburg will use historic success rates for viral vaccine development to provide publicly accessible, evidence-based projections for when a COVID-19 vaccine might be available.

Bertrand Lebouché

Use of OPAL-COVID, a mobile application, for real-time at home follow-up of people who test positive for COVID-19 at the Glen site: a feasibility study

Lay Summary

A mobile app can monitor COVID-19 patients. A primary aim of public health agencies is to identify, monitor, track, isolate, and treat anyone with symptoms of COVID-19 to prevent transmission. Around 90% of those who test positive for COVID-19 stay home after diagnosis. Infectious disease primary care specialist Dr. Bertrand Lebouché is teaming up with Opal app creators Dr. John Kildea and Dr. Tarek Hijal to create an app that provides resources for COVID-19 patients isolating at home. Patients will be able to self-monitor symptoms and connect with health care providers if their illness worsens. This innovation will improve safety for those isolating at home with COVID-19 and provide critical data on COVID-19 illness to help us better understand the disease.

Greg Matlashewski

Matthew Cheng

Momar Ndao

Detection of anti- SARS-CoV-2 antibodies in sera from COVID19 patients

Lay Summary

Herd immunity is an important factor in ending social isolation measures. If enough people are immune to COVID-19, the virus can no longer transmit effectively, so the spread of infection stops. MI4 researchers Dr. Greg Matlashewski, Dr. Matthew Cheng, Dr. Momar Ndao and Dr. Cedric Yansouni are studying blood samples from COVID patients and asymptomatic people to determine when antibodies to the virus appear. Antibodies are proteins produced by the body in response to infections, such as COVID-19, that can protect against future exposures to the virus. In theory, if you have COVID-19 antibodies, you cannot contract the disease a second time. By understanding when antibodies form in patients with COVID-19 and asymptomatic carriers, the researchers will be able to recommend testing measures that can show us who is protected from disease. This knowledge is important because it allows us to assess how much herd immunity there is in the population.

Momar Ndao

Michael Reed

Martin Olivier

COVID-19 Vaccines - Novel Approaches to Tackle a Novel Disease

Lay Summary

Thinking outside the box—and quickly—is critical if we are to generate solutions for the current COVID-19 crisis. To protect the population in the short and long-terms, infectious diseases experts Dr. Momar Ndao, Dr. Michael Reed and Dr. Martin Olivier are working to develop a COVID-19 vaccine by adapting and testing two established approaches based on the tuberculosis vaccine and adenovirus. Because both of the existing systems are approved for use in humans, developing a COVID-19 vaccine using the same principles could lead to a more rapid solution.

Janusz Rak

Maziar Divangahi

Dongsic Choi

Exosomal mimetics of COVID-19 as viral models and therapeutics

Lay Summary

Understanding how the coronavirus infects the body could help us prevent it. Dr. Janusz Rak and his team are harnessing vesicles, small cellular structures that move biological materials from one cell to another inside the body, to understand how the SARS-CoV-2 virus infects the body. The SARS-CoV-2 virus moves around the body similarly to vesicles. It attaches to cells, allowing the virus content to enter them. Eventually, enough cells are infected to cause illness. By understanding how the coronavirus ‘pretends’ natural vesicles to infect the body, and how to stop its penetration into cells, the team will bring us one step closer to understanding how to stop the virus from spreading throughout the population.

Stéphane Rinfret

Effect of coronavirus pandemic and health care system response on non-COVID-19-related mortality, post pandemic myocardial infarction and heart failure rates in Quebec; a collateral damage in this war?

Lay Summary

Have heart attacks decreased since social isolation began? Cardiologists Dr. Stéphane Rinfret and Dr. James Brophy have noticed an unexpected decrease in heart attacks since the COVID-19 pandemic started. They are conducting research to determine whether people suffering from cardiac episodes are avoiding hospitals for fear of contracting COVID-19, or if social isolation has indeed reduced the incidence of heart attacks due to reduced physical activity and work-related stress. To determine the answer, the team will contact cardiology units across the country to learn whether there has been a reduction in cardiac surgeries (placement of stents, valve replacements, etc.) Their findings will help cardiologists across the country take steps to ensure their patients are receiving the treatment they need.

Cécile Rousseau

Health Communication, Sociocultural Diversity, and COVID-19

Lay Summary

How you are seen by society can affect how you react in a crisis. Around the world, countries have adopted measures such as social distancing, closing of schools and businesses and limited access to public spaces. Psychiatrist Dr. Cécile Rousseau, along with collaborators from Concordia University and University of Ottawa, will conduct surveys and interviews with 4,000 Quebecers to understand how minority status, low socioeconomic status, discrimination/stigmatization and mental health affect understanding and adoption of COVID-19 public health measures. The results will inform the best way to communicate about COVID-19 with different groups.

Selena Sagan

Richard Menzies

Germicidal ultraviolet light to disinfect personal protective equipment to reduce nosocomial transmission of COVID-19

Lay Summary

Many countries including Canada are facing shortages of personal protective equipment. Face masks, gowns and face shields are essential to keeping health care workers safe, and preventing transmission of COVID19, but the huge increase in demand means that hospitals across Canada have no choice but to ask workers to re-use this vital equipment. Respirologist and epidemiologist Dr. Dick Menzies, virologist Dr. Selena Sagan and their team are studying whether masks can be sterilized using ultraviolet (UV) light. The research team will test whether UV light is effective in sterilizing N95 masks, surgical masks and plastic face shields. They will also test whether the light degrades the filtration quality of the masks. If the UV lights are found to be effective, hospitals will have a made-in-Canada way to safely reuse much needed personal protective equipment.

Jonathan D. Spicer

Evaluating Neutrophil Extracellular Traps as a therapeutic target in COVID-19 patients

Lay Summary

COVID-19 can quickly turn into a life-threatening respiratory infection. Surgeon Dr. Jonathan Spicer and his team are investigating how a category of white blood cells called neutrophils influence the severity of COVID-19 infection. Much like a spider web, when stimulated, neutrophils can release their DNA into the small blood vessels of the body forming what are called Neutrophil Extracellular Traps, known as “NETs”. It is thought that COVID-19 causes massive amounts of NETs to be released in some patients and that this may be the reason why some get so sick. Dr. Spicer’s team will analyze the blood of patients infected with COVID-19 to determine if the presence of NETs predicts more severe illness. If this test is proven, it could help doctors deliver NET-directed therapies to prevent patients from becoming more sick from the infection and thus, save lives.

Brett Thombs

Andrea Benedetti

Mental Health during the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Living Systematic Review of Symptom Levels, Factors Associated with Symptoms, and Intervention Effectiveness

Lay Summary

COVID-19 has disrupted the lives of people across the world and raised concerns about serious mental health implications. There is almost no evidence from previous infectious disease to inform understandings of mental health in COVID-19. Mental health evidence from COVID-19 is being produced very rapidly, but much is of very poor quality. Health practitioners and policymakers need to understand how COVID-19 is affecting mental health and have options to intervene in order to make decisions that best serve the population. Psychologist Dr. Brett Thombs and biostatistician Dr. Andrea Benedetti will conduct a living systematic review to curate all mental health evidence during COVID-19 on the impact of the outbreak on mental health, mental health risk factors, and effective interventions. Their results will be important in helping health care providers to support the mental health of Canadians.

David Wachsmuth

A spatial analysis of COVID-19 risk and recovery in Canadian cities

Lay Summary

Which neighbourhoods in Canadian cities are most vulnerable to COVID-19 spread? Which are able to best implement social distancing? Urban governance expert Dr. David Wachsmuth and his team will analyze urban areas to create neighbourhood-level information on COVID-19 transmission risk. Their work will determine the opportunities and threats related to lifting social distancing measures. The results will help policymakers recommend the best measures for social distancing and travel restrictions in the months ahead.


Internal McGill COVID-19 Rapid Response for Social Sciences and Humanities award recipients:

LEAD INVESTIGATORS PROJECT TITLE

Leonardo Baccini

The Political Economy of Governments' Response to the COVID-19 Pandemic

Adelle Blackett

COVID-19's Essential Workers: Rethinking Social Protection Beyond the Employment Relationship

Delphine Collin-Vezina

Responding to Child Protection-Involved Families During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Bassam Khoury

Understanding the Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on the Canadian Mental Health Care System

Jennifer Elrick

Changing the Social Value of Work? The Effects of Covid-19 on Canada's Seasonal Agricultural Worker Program (SAWP)
Fabien Gélinas The COVID-19 Crisis: An Investment Law Perspective

Charles Gladhill

Ancient Narratives of Viral Contagion and the Aftermath of COVID-19
Warut Khern-am-nuai Helping Retailers and Customers to Cope with Surge Demands Under COVID-19

Anthony Masi

Differences in Public Policy Responses and Citizens Reactions to the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Comparative Study of Canada, Sweden, Italy and the Republic of Korea
Ma'n Hilmi Mohammad Zawati Of Biobanking and Policy: Emerging Ethical and Legal Challenges During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Daiva Nielsen

Experiences with Food Acquisition in Quebec During COVID-19 Pandemic: Risk Perceptions, Access Barriers, and Insight to Prepare for the Future

Juan Camilo Serpa

Quebec Data Central for Impact of Covid-19 on Society and Business and for a Post-Pandemic World


MI4 ECRF Round 1 award recipients: (announced March 31st, 2020):

MI4 is also pleased to acknowledge co-funding support from the Division of Cardiology at the McGill University Health Centre and the McGill Centre for Structural Biology, each supporting one of the proposals below.

Lead Investigators

Project Title

Matthew Cheng

Leighanne Parkes

Todd Lee

Emily McDonald

A Multi-centre, Adaptive, Randomized, Open-label, Controlled Clinical Trial of the Safety and Efficacy of Investigational Therapeutics for the Treatment of COVID-19 in Hospitalized Patients in Canada (CATCO)

Lay Summary

Matthew Cheng, Department of Immunology and Microbiology, is leading a team conducting a clinical trial to test the efficacy of existing drugs against COVID-19, in the hopes they may improve outcomes as a vaccine is being developed. This effort is part of a larger, global initiative under the auspices of the World Health Organization.

Matthew Cheng

Erwin Schurr

Guillaume Bourque

Genomic biomarkers to predict outcome and treatment response in hospitalized COVID-19 patients

Lay Summary

Matthew Cheng is also undertaking a clinical study to identify biomarkers that can help predict disease outcomes and response to treatment in individual patients. This study is funded by the Canadian Institutes for Health Research (CIHR) and linked to a global effort to identify effective biomarkers for COVID-19.

Jörg H. Fritz

Ciriaco Piccirillo

Defining the protective host immune response to SARS-CoV-2

Lay Summary

Jörg H. Fritz, Department of Microbiology & Immunology, is working with international collaborators to better understand the immune response to COVID-19, defining how antiviral immunity functions at a molecular level, in order to develop tests to determine who is immune, and inform vaccine development.

John W. Hanrahan

Targeting coronavirus cation channels with antiviral drugs

Lay Summary

John Hanrahan, Department of Physiology, is developing drugs that can prevent coronavirus from moving from one cell to another, potentially stopping the disease before it can spread throughout the body.

Lara Khoury

Alana Klein

Marie-Eve Couture-Ménard

Law in Pandemic Times: Powers and Accountability when Facing Emergency

Lay Summary

Lara Khoury, Faculty of Law and Associate Member, Institute for Health and Social Policy, is working with collaborators to use this once-in-a-generation crisis to evaluate public powers and accountability mechanisms in relation to emergency public health decision-making, focusing on how governments can remain accountable while exercising sweeping legal and regulatory authority.

Irah King

Targeting the gut microbiome to improve COVID-19 disease outcomes

Lay Summary

Irah King, Department of Microbiology & Immunology, is looking at how targeting the gut microbiome—the vast microbial community living in the intestine— might offer treatment options for COVID-19. This study builds on existing evidence that the gut microbiome affects our immune response to respiratory infection, that evidence of the disease shows up in fecal swabs and stool samples, and that COVID-19 patients with gastrointestinal symptoms often experience worse outcomes.

Todd Lee

Emily McDonald

Matthew Cheng

Post-exposure Prophylaxis or Preemptive Therapy for SARS-Coronavirus-2: A Pragmatic Randomized Clinical Trial (COVID19 PEP RCT – Canada)

Lay Summary

Todd C. Lee, Department of Medicine, Division of Infectious Diseases, is conducting a Quebec-wide trial to test the efficacy of hydroxychloroquine—a malaria medication that has produced some limited positive results in smaller studies which require confirmation — for both prevention and early treatment of COVID-19. Dr. Lee is coordinating a national trial involving other provinces and this Canadian trial is partnered with a U.S.-led study so as to arrive at the answers in the shortest time possible.

Mathieu Maheu-Giroux

Dimitra Panagiotoglou

Alexandra Schmidt

Nicole Basta

David Buckeridge

Yiqing Xia

Arnaud Godin

Dirk Douwes-Schultz

Real-time modeling of COVID-19 transmission in Canada: epidemic intelligence for an effective public health response

Lay Summary

Mathieu Maheu-Giroux, Department of Epidemiology, Biostatistics and Occupational Health, is using statistical and mathematical models of COVID-19 disease transmission to provide daily provincial-level updates on the state of the epidemic in Quebec and Canada. This will inform government decision-making by providing real-time forecasts of the rate of COVID-19 spread the demand on the health care, and the impact of social distancing measures and other preventive strategies.

Sara Mahshid

Colorimetric assisted microfluidic device for detection of SARS-Cov2 RNA

Lay Summary

Sara Mahshid, Department of Bioengineering, has developed a prototype that can potentially simplify testing of SARS-Cov2 RNA via a colorimetric approach, making it easier and cheaper to manufacture tests, and providing faster results for diagnostics of COVID19.

Dick Menzies

Jonathon Campbell

Assessing costs and benefits of different testing strategies for COVID-19 in Canada

Lay Summary

Richard Menzies, Department of Medicine, Division of Respiratory Medicine, is examining the medical and economic costs and benefits of multiple different COVID-19 testing strategies, ranging from expanded but targeted testing of individuals particularly testing all contacts of confirmed cases, testing all essential workers, testing all workers and students, to universal testing. This data can inform testing policy in Quebec, in Canada and other countries.

Nicolas Moitessier

Anthony Mittermaier

PLpro as a target for the development of novel anti-COVID-19 agents

Lay Summary

Nicolas Moitessier and Anthony Mittermaier, Department of Chemistry, are partnering with Molecular Forecaster, a Montreal company, to use innovative computational methods to design new drugs that target one of the key biological mechanisms by which COVID-19 replicates and spreads. Selected compounds will then be synthesized and evaluated as potential antiviral agents. This work builds on knowledge gained from the SARS and MERS epidemics, as well as work the team has done on cancer and Parkinson’s drug development.

Joaquin Ortega

Duane Chung

C. Perry Chou

Development of a new Virus-like-Particle (VLP) vaccine against COVID-19

Partnership grant with the McGill Centre for Structural Biology

Lay Summary

Joaquin Ortega, Department of Anatomy and Cell Biology, is exploring a novel vaccine approach to eliciting a stronger immune response by creating protein-based virus-like particles, as a complement to other efforts to create vaccines based on RNA and DNA. In this project Ortega will collaborate with Duane Chung at Algaeneers, a leading bio-manufacturing company in Ontario.

Martin Schmeing

Don van Meyel

Production of COVID-19 testing reagents to backstop and supplement existing sources

Lay Summary

Martin Schmeing, Canada Research Chair in Macromolecular Machines and Director, Centre de recherche en biologie structurale (CRBS) and Don van Meyel, Director of the Centre for Translational Biology, are working to develop large-scale, local production of the key ingredients needed for COVID-19 testing. Currently, these materials are made out of country, and Canada must compete for scarce supplies. Their goal is to ensure an adequate supply of tests for Canadians and support expanded testing strategies to help control the spread of COVID-19 more effectively.

Abhinav Sharma

Management of Renin-Angiotensin-Aldosterone System blockade in patients admitted in hospital with confirmed coronavirus disease (COVID-19) infection: The McGill RAAS-COVID-19 randomized controlled trial.

Partnership grant with the MUHC Division of Cardiology

Lay Summary

Abhinav Sharma, Divisions of Cardiology and Experimental Medicine, is conducting a randomized clinical trial to determine if a class of commonly-prescribed drugs used for patients with cardiovascular diseases and high blood pressure contributes to outcomes among individuals with a COVID-19 infection. This study will provide important guidance for managing heart disease and high blood pressure during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Benjamin Smith

PCR-based testing to shorten self-isolation duration in COVID-19 exposed healthcare workers

Lay Summary

Benjamin Smith, Department of Medicine, Division of Respiratory Medicine, is studying how highly targeted testing strategies might reduce the length of time that health care workers must spend in isolation following exposure to COVID-19. The goal is to use early, targeted viral testing to identify those health care workers who can safely return to work as early as one week before the full 14-day quarantine is completed while ensuring those who are infectious remain in isolation, thereby preserving this vital workforce while making sure patients are safe.

Brett Thombs

Linda Kwakkenbos

Andrea Benedetti

Susan Bartlett

John Varga

Scott Patten

Nicole Culos-Reed

Shannon Hebblethwaite

Mental health in an at-risk population during COVID-19: longitudinal study of risk factors and outcomes and embedded trial of an activity, education, and support intervention

Lay Summary

Brett Thombs, Department of Psychiatry, is conducting (1) a large-scale, worldwide study on mental health impacts of COVID-19 and mitigation efforts like social distancing, particularly on people already suffering from chronic medical conditions and (2) a trial of an intervention designed to reduce negative mental health effects.


Although at this time we are not yet launching a third round of the ECRF program, through the continued efforts of The MUHC Foundation, Montreal Children’s Foundation, Montreal General Hospital Foundation and McGill University Advancement, we hope to be able to continue to support COVID-19 research across McGill and its affiliated institutions. Please stay tuned to the MI4 website for further announcements.


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