Final round of COVID-19 seed funding awarded


The Ohio State Office of Research awarded a total of more than $770,000 in expedited COVID-19 seed funding. Credit: Courtesy of TNS

Eleven new COVID-19-related research projects received a total of $310,000 from the Ohio State Office of Research in the final rounding of funding, the university announced Tuesday. 

The third round of COVID-19 Seed Fund projects address anti-inflammatory therapy on the lungs, vaccine efforts, data management, mental health, the history of pandemics, diagnostic tests, non-English COVID-19 media, low-cost alternatives for a diagnosis and ways to increase compliance with COVID-19 guidelines, according to a Tuesday press release. 

“The university’s multidisciplinary approach positions Ohio State to provide innovative solutions to combat the COVID-19 pandemic,” Morley O. Stone, the senior vice president for research, said in the press release. 

The three rounds of seed funding totaled more than $770,000 for 24 projects, according to the release. Six projects were awarded a total of more than $263,000 April 17, and seven projects were awarded a total of nearly $204,000 April 23.

Natalia Higuita-Castro, an assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, is leading a project to deliver anti-inflammatory therapies to lungs damaged by COVID-19, according to the press release. These therapies will be designed to decrease inflammation and give the patient’s immune system a better chance to fight the virus. 

“Your own immune system has to do the work and overcome the infection, but we are shifting that balance from a severe inflammatory state to a more balanced state, to potentially aid faster recovery and reduce lung damage,” Higuita-Castro said.

Higuita-Castro’s project was awarded $39,000, Dawn Larzelere, spokesperson for the Office of Research, said.

Daniel Strunk, an associate professor in the Department of Psychology, is leading a study that will evaluate social, economic and health stressors related to COVID-19, analyze their correlation with anxiety and depression and use coping strategies to try to lessen their impact. The project was awarded $37,800. 

Abhay Satoskar, a professor in the Department of Pathology, is leading an effort to develop a vaccine against COVID-19 that creates a strong, long-term immune response. The project was awarded $26,500.

Ayaz Hyder, an assistant professor in the College of Public Health, is developing data-management tools to support university-associated agencies’ and organizations’ COVID-19 response. The project was awarded $20,000. 

Purnima Dubey, an associate professor in the College of Medicine, was awarded $30,000 to test if a vaccine using a specific part of the coronavirus can provoke an immune response in the body. 

Nicolas Breyfogle, an associate professor in the Department of History, was awarded $20,000 to create and share multimedia lessons on the history of pandemics to expand public understanding of the current pandemic. 

Prosper Boyaka, a professor in the College of Veterinary Medicine, is leading a project to identify the best design for a coronavirus vaccine using the chemical compound Alum to enhance the body’s immune response. The project was awarded $25,000. 

Carlos Castro, an associate professor in the College of Engineering, is a part of a team working to develop a rapid COVID-19 diagnostic test. The project was awarded $37,329. 

Glenn Martinez, a professor of Hispanic linguistics, was awarded $30,000 to evaluate sources, trust, satisfaction and comprehension of COVID-19-related news by people in Columbus who communicate in Spanish. 

Dan Shu, an associate professor in the College of Pharmacy, was awarded $35,000 to lead a project to develop a fast and low-cost alternative to the COVID-19 test that detects the coronavirus early.

Richard Petty, a professor in the Department of Psychology, was awarded $9,375 to lead an interdisciplinary collaboration to study ways to increase compliance with COVID-19 guidelines such as social distancing and mask-wearing.