Coronavirus Response: Rising to the Challenge of our Lifetime

Published on 2 August 2020

Throughout the pandemic, the University of Dundee has remained resolute in its commitment to leading the fight against Coronavirus

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Fast Response From Our Alumni, Scientific And Healthcare Communities

As you know, our priority in the early days of lock-down was our students who faced severe financial hardship with very little warning. We heard worrying stories from students, some of whom considered leaving Higher Education as it just seemed impossible to continue. Your response to our request to help students experiencing financial hardship has been overwhelming. You have enabled students to focus on their studies and complete this academic year in a time when uncertainty is everywhere. Our Student Funding team have used your donations to help students with no other means to pay rent, utility bills, access broadband and eat. Thank you! 

From the very beginning, as the impact of the outbreak became apparent, your University was determined to play its part in helping the country, and the world, face up to the threat posed by the virus. When students and University staff packed away their computers and began to study and work from home, a core team of world-leading experts and academics remained on campus, using their knowledge and skills to unlock the mysteries of Covid-19.

Healthcare professionals around the world, including NHS staff here in the UK, have been on the frontline of tackling the virus. Preparing these keyworkers for the challenge formed one our first major projects, working with colleagues at NHS Tayside to establish a new Covid-19 Training and Education Hub at Ninewells Hospital, reducing risk to both healthcare professionals and their patients.

When the UK Government put lockdown measures in place, the University donated two highly-sophisticated Thermo Kingfisher Flex robots to support the UK Covid-19 test programme. The technology, described as  “gold dust”, was transported by the Royal Navy from our School of Life Sciences to Milton Keynes where the machines – known affectionately by staff as Bert and Ernie - have played a key role in accelerating the scale of the nation’s virus testing capacity.

In the weeks and months that followed, a succession of further studies and initiatives were launched by our experts, with scientists and researchers working around the clock. And it’s not just within laboratories that we’re making a difference. Students and staff from our Duncan of Jordanstone College of Art & Design and School of Social Sciences have utilised their skills to support our community, from producing PPE equipment, to providing art supplies to keep local children entertained during lockdown.

“In January, some of our scientists realised that Covid was going to be a problem,” said Professor Inke Näthke, Interim Dean of the School of Life Sciences.

 Inke Näthke standing looking at the camera
“They turned their attention to understanding how the virus works, how we can stop it in its tracks, and how we can combat the disease. In addition, some of our researchers have been able to expand the work they were already doing to include Covid-19 in their projects .”

Professor Inke Näthke, School of Life Sciences

Funding Vital Research Into Long Term Healthcare Solutions

As the threat from Covid-19 remains, our work to tackle the challenges of the present run parallel with that to address future tests to our health and wellbeing. That is why we launched our Coronavirus Research Fundraising Campaign to provide funding that will ensure our science does not stand still and that we do not have to endure the painful separation from loved ones and day-to-day sacrifices of recent months.

“There is amazing work going on here,” says James Chalmers, Professor of Respiratory Research within our School of Medicine.

an image of James smiling
“Right from the beginning our scientists have been collecting samples from people with Coronavirus in our community, helping to treat people and trying to find new therapies by conducting vital clinical trials. We desperately need treatments for Covid-19 because it would allow us to go back to living a normal life, knowing it is a treatable problem. This is an extraordinary time for medical science. Research is the only exit strategy from the problem that we’re having and even a small donation can make a huge difference to driving forward these vital research studies that can change how we treat coronavirus and prevent it.”

Professor James Chalmers, School of Medicine

Science has never faced a more urgent challenge to develop treatments and find a vaccine. That is why research into coronaviruses has never been more important than it is right now.

The Coronavirus Research Fundraising Campaign hopes to raise £300,000 from Trusts and Foundations, from our local community and our Alumni groups to allow our scientists to explore emerging concepts quickly in a rapidly changing landscape.


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