University of Limerick Response to COVID-19 – Overview of Research Programmes, Collaborations and Support Initiatives
The UL Critical Operations Team & Executive Committee (COTEC) created a UL COVID Action group to coordinate the many activities in progress and emerging across campus in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Here you will find an update on all of those activities as well as a call out to anyone else supporting the COVID-19 efforts in any way to get in contact with the group. The COVID Action Group is under the supervision of UL Vice President Research Professor Norelee Kennedy and as in institution and community, it wishes to acknowledge and applaud the extraordinary efforts of UL staff in reaching out to help in a very challenging and truly unprecedented situation.
While my primary responsibility is to the staff and students, I am conscious of the challenges faced by our community in the Mid-West and thinking how UL can help. UL’s Covid-19 Action Group is working to coordinate the work of many in the university towards this goal. The work is aimed at tracing and testing for Covid-19, manufacturing PPE, contributions to modelling the spread of the virus in Ireland and to new technology for tracing, training management staff in the HSE and even the planning for a field hospital on campus in the UL Sport Arena. President Dr Des Fitzgerald.
At a national level, UL staff are advising and informing government through the National Epidemiological Group, DPER, the National Advisory Group and the Department of An Taoiseach Research Group, on how best to manage the emerging impacts from COVID-19.
To coordinate and plan the many activities that UL staff are involved with in response to COVID-19 we formed the UL COVID-19 Action group. The group captures the activities on a daily basis as well as meets as various sub-groups to brainstorm ideas and responses to the many requests we received. Its wonderful to see such support from UL staff and students in response to COVID-19 in addition to their normal work. The positivity, commitment and purpose of the group is commendable. VPR Professor Norelee Kennedy.
Some of the initiatives already underway include key contributions to building and testing models for case numbers and hospital demand; assessment of contact tracing software for national roll out; the adaptation and implementation of software within the hospital for tracking hospital acquired infection; the development of an online platform for the support of teachers and schools in the provision of interactive teaching tools for Leaving Cert students; provision of reliable and trustworthy information to the public through #COVIDWATCHIRL; development of an evidence based clinical guidance platform for healthcare staff and the provision of PPE to the Gardaí and staff who remain on campus.
Across the University, staff/departments have been generous with their expertise, supply of materials and infrastructure, where individuals collaborate closely with HSE staff to respond to their urgent need for critical supplies.
UL is helping the HSE with contact tracing and a number of our staff have already expressed interest in volunteering to support. We are also working closely with the HSE on the provision (if needed) of a field hospital.
UL has an extensive group of volunteers contributing to all aspects of the COVID-19 crisis. We want to acknowledge your generosity and thank you for this effort.
This list is not exhaustive and serves merely to illustrate some of the work underway. Other initiatives are under development, where collaborative programmes with colleagues from other HEIs and industry will be pivotal to making a difference in this challenging time.
A meeting held in early April with the people known at that point to be involved in some way with the COVID response offered an opportunity to explore UL’s response to the national research funding calls to ensure a coordinated, internationally aligned and strategic approach. Such an approach is championed by all the HEIs through their Presidents and Vice Presidents Research. The meeting also provided a very useful forum for idea exchange, identification of new synergies across disciplines as well as an opportunity to make new, albeit, virtual acquaintances.
If there is any other activity happening to support the COVID-19 response please feel free to contact Norelee Kennedy or Sinead O’Doherty to let them know.
COVID-19 responses from University of Limerick
Accommodation, Labs, Medical facilities, Research infrastructure, Rooms/Halls etc.
Laboratory testing, medical and nursing students/staff, catering, contact tracing etc.
Staff/students, expertise (public health experts, representation on expert advisory groups etc.)
Including the value of same where possible such as medical equipment, lab equipment and consumables, PPE and similar equipment etc.
Other areas of collaboration
Details on the SFI/EI/IDA rapid response funding call can be found here
These will include but are not exclusive to the following
- Adoption of COVID related Clinical Trials into Ireland
- Development of academic-industry collaboration to alleviate supply chain
- Covid Modelling studies to integrate with international studies
- Adaptation/adoption of COVID software focused programmes
- Implementation Science project to support real-time decision making
- Epidemiological study
- COVID- testing protocols
COVID Research projects at ULCOVID research
Graphs tracking COVID-19 case numbers with Professor Liam Glynn and Dr Mike O'Callaghan in association with UL and Irish College of GPs. See all the graphs here or watch the animations below.