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SciLifeLab launches national COVID-19 research program

Olli Kallioniemi

The program was launched through an open call for proposals, it resulted in 67 funded projects within 9 focus areas and is financed by the Knut and Alice Wallenberg Foundation.

In March 2020, SciLifeLab launched a national call for researchers nationwide, to create a comprehensive program to combat the coronavirus pandemic. 282 proposals were submitted, with applicants ranging from Swedish universities and hospitals, and other organizations, both in Sweden and abroad.

50 million SEK in funding

The SciLifeLab management group reviewed all proposals and approved 67 for funding. The funded  applications are grouped in 9 research areas. The projects will be funded with a total of 50 million SEK.

Besides scientific impact, the evaluation criteria considered were relevance and impact on tackling COVID-19 pandemic, opportunities created by the SciLifeLab community, possibility to form synergies and collaborations, commitment to open data and real-time updates of progress.

In addition, national SciLifeLab funding is applied to generate capabilities for COVID-19 research.

Link projects together to form synergies within and across the areas

The purpose of the program is to create collaborative research capabilities that will link projects together to form synergies within and across the areas. It aims to increase the capability of the scientific community in Sweden to produce useful data and knowledge of the COVID-19 epidemic, both now and in the case of future epidemics, create and implement better diagnostic tests, better real-time overview of the epidemic, better models, and integration of data across technologies and domains of research, collaborate to share resources, make use of other grants, as well as utilize SciLifeLab facilities and data capabilities, and create a niche in the light of the global competition, based on the holistic multi-disciplinary approach and data integration.

“This national program will benefit from SciLifeLab’s infrastructure and data center. We hope that this effort will create a strong research program around COVID-19 in Sweden, to study the virus and the disease at a molecular, cell, patient and population level, and hence contribute with data to enable better decisions around medical and non-pharmaceutical actions,” says Olli Kallioniemi, Director, SciLifeLab.

The nine focus 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

Photo of Olli Kallioniemi, Director, SciLifeLab. Photographer: Marit Solblad