You have to work pretty hard to spin any silver from 2020’s pandemic cloud.
Any other year when every faculty at Western brought some new insight to the fight against a single disease?
No fewer than 80 stories in Western News this year focused on COVID-19-related research taking place in multiple disciplines here. There were studies and breakthroughs in medical, ethical and engineering fields, and the hunt for a vaccine was aided by rapid-research funding from Western and federal agencies. (You can read all the studies by searching the COVID19 tag.)
There was serious examination of how research affects people who are often left behind – the forgotten, vulnerable and marginalized in this country and others – because of inequities in income, race and geographic location.
Janet Martin, associate professor at the Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry, is part of an international CovidSurg Collaborative research team that’s transforming how hospitals conduct safe surgery during a pandemic.
The Imaging Pathogens for Knowledge Translation (ImPaKT) facility has been going full tilt to find and test potential vaccines and anti-viral treatments.
Others researched loss of smell as a coronavirus symptom; developed a way to use algae to produce serological test kits; examined COVID-19’s long-term effects on the brain; and, in collaboration with Lawson Health Research Institute, identified biomarkers that can predict how seriously ill an infected patient may become.
The World Health Organization has tapped Health Studies bioethicist Maxwell Smith’s expert insights into the myriad ethical considerations of COVID-19 treatment and allocation of scarce resources. Smith and Western chancellor Linda Hasenfratz are also newly named to Ontario’s vaccine distribution task force. Meanwwhile, Charles Weijer of Schulich Medicine and the Faculty of Arts and Humanities worked with the World Health Organization to develop the first ethics guidelines for studies that test new vaccines in studies that infect healthy volunteers with COVID-19.
Researchers at Schulich School of Medicine & Dentistry and Lawson Health Research Institute unravelled two mysteries of COVID-19.