Funding news from the Chief Scientist Office      

Reading time: 3 minutes
Many congratulations to the eight teams across the University that were awarded funding from the Chief Scientist Office (CSO) in May.

College of Arts, Humanities and Social Sciences

Professor Gillean McCluskey, REF Co-ordinator and Deputy Director of The Centre for Research in Education Inclusion and Diversity (CREID) in Moray House School of Educations and Sport was awarded £25,000 for her project ‘In isolation, instead of school (INISS): Vulnerable children’s experiences of COVID-19 and effects on mental health and education.’

Dr George Palattiyil, Senior Lecturer in the School of Social and Political Science was awarded £150,000 for his work on understanding and reducing the psychosocial impact of coronavirus social distancing and behavioural changes on families of care home residents in Scotland.

Dr Alice Street, Senior Lecturer in Social Anthropology in the School of Social and Political Science was awarded £30,000 for her work on the project ‘Building trust in a global pandemic: public perceptions, expectations and experiences of COVID-19 testing in Lothian, Scotland.’

Dr Street said: “It is an honour to receive funding from the Chief Scientist’s Office and wonderful to see the contribution that social science can make to the COVID-19 response recognised. Our research on expectations and perceptions of COVID-19 testing in Scotland builds on several years of anthropological research on social aspects of medical testing. Trust in tests is essential to their efficacy. How people experience medical tests also impacts on their perceptions of health services and government. Our research on the role that trust plays in the Scottish Government’s testing strategy will hopefully aid government policy in this area and help to build public trust in our health system at a time of great uncertainty.”

College of Science and Engineering

Dr William Waites, Research Associate in the School of Informatics was awarded £46,500 for his work on network models for infection control through testing and contact tracing.

Dr Adam Stokes, Senior Lecturer in the School of Engineering was awarded £84,000 for his work on rapid 3D printing of personalised protective facemasks and visors to WHO standard for healthcare workings treating COVID-19 patients.

Professor Garry Blakely, Chair of Microbial Genetics and Biotechnology in the School of Biological Sciences was awarded £46,000 for his work on a novel platform technology for industrial-scale production of an immune targeted COVID-19 vaccine.

Professor Blakely said: “Controlling the spread of coronavirus is central to the prospect of returning to what we knew as ‘normal life’. Developing an effective vaccine will be a cornerstone for any future nationwide control strategy. One of the many challenges for vaccine production is the large-scale synthesis of reagents required for administration to the population. The funding awarded by the CSO is allowing us to take the first steps towards developing a novel vaccine production platform that has the potential to provide unique biological components on an industrial scale. This is achievable with the talents of our team in the School of Biological Sciences, consisting of Dr Prerna Vohra and Dr Anne Davidson.”

College of Medicine and Veterinary Medicine

Dr David Dorward, Clinical Lecturer in Pathology in Edinburgh Medical School was awarded £160,000 for his project on ‘Inflammation in COVID-19: Exploration of critical aspects of Pathogenesis (ICECAP).’

Dr Samantha Lycett, Group Leader at the Roslin Institute was awarded £62,000 for her work to track the rise and fall of Scottish SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 using virus sequences.

Dr Lycett said: “Myself and my team from the Roslin Institute and The Royal (Dick) School of Veterinary Studies are delighted to have received funding from the Chief Scientist Office for ‘Tracking the rise and fall of Scottish SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 using virus sequences’ as part of the Rapid Research in COVID-19 programme (RARC-19 programme).

“This project is making use of the amazing and growing collection of virus sequences from Scotland, and we are very grateful to the members of the COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium (COG) for their work. The funding from CSO is allowing us to analyse the current transmission patterns and create epidemiological models within and between regions of Scotland. These models show how the epidemic is progressing, helps predict what could happen through inference and simulations, and allows advice on when or how a low enough level of community transmission has been reached. So this project will be making an important contribution to the evidence-base to navigate our route out of lockdown.”