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COVID-19: Research Luxembourg is mobilising
Provision of equipment and specialised personnel, support for hospital staff, scientific studies
Research Luxembourg, a joint initiative of the main players in Luxembourg’s public research sector, is mobilising its knowledge and its human and material resources to help address the challenge of COVID-19. A task force has been set up in order to offer the health system the combined expertise available within the Luxembourg public research sector (LIH, LISER, LIST, LNS, University, FNR, under the coordination of the Ministry of Higher Education and Research).
The missions of this working group are:
Coordinate the provision of support from the national research community to healthcare providers and the government in order to contain the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Help identify and centralise a variety of priority activities, leveraging on the cross-sectoral expertise in molecular biology, epidemiology, clinical trials and fundamental research
Be the point of contact between the national research ecosystem, the clinical community and the authorities
The task force will focus on three pillars:
– a prevalence study to assess the extent of the spread of the virus and the number of asymptomatic individuals;
– a stratification study in which researchers attempt to identify risk factors that contribute negatively to disease progression;
– statistical simulations on the evolution, impact and spread of the COVID-19 pandemic to provide short- and medium-term projections and thus facilitate decision-making on when restrictions could be lifted.
Concrete actions have already been put in place. Research institutions have provided the health sector with equipment and specialised personnel. In this context, it is worthwhile mentioning the important mobilisation of doctors in training in the framework of the “formation spécifique en médecine générale”. Indeed, many of these future general practitioners have volunteered to support hospital staff in the four hospital establishments in Luxembourg.
To enable this initiative, the government, with the support of the University of Luxembourg and the doctors involved in this training, has adjusted the relevant regulatory framework and adopted the necessary measures to enable the deployment of these volunteers in the coming days. Likewise, nurses working in research as well as students in medicine are also being trained to support hospital staff.
Due to the international pressure exerted by governments and research funding agencies, almost all scientific data and publications on COVID-19 are freely accessible in digital form (machine readable). This data is a very valuable resource, easily amenable to text and data mining using artificial intelligence techniques. This is an area in which Luxembourg has strong expertise.
To accelerate these efforts and to stimulate new ideas and new collaborations between researchers, additional funding will be provided by the Luxembourg National Research Fund (FNR). Given the urgency of the situation, quick funding decisions will be ensured.
Research Luxembourg team players, RTL Today and SciLux have teamed up to launch a new series of podcasts showcasing science in Luxembourg and beyond. With a new episode every 2 weeks published on RTL Play, ‘SciLux powered by Research Luxembourg’ will showcase research activities and scientific cooperation in the Grand Duchy. The first episode features FNR PEARL Chair Dr Kathryn Hadler from the European Space Resources Innovation Centre (ESRIC).
To showcase the many paths of women in science in Luxembourg, and to inspire young girls to pursue their passion for science, the institutions that form Research Luxembourg are launching a video series, in collaboration with MEGA, the Ministry for Equality in Luxembourg. The videos are produced by FNR.
How many vaccinated people in Luxembourg want to get a booster? How many parents want to have their children vaccinated? Answers to these and other questions on the topic of vaccination are provided by a current representative survey conducted by FNR/science.lu in cooperation with researchers from Luxembourg.
We understand that researchers and research teams may go through a difficult period triggered by the COVID-19 pandemic During 2020 and 2021, research projects have temporarily been suspended or delayed and key parts of projects may have to be postponed for a significant amount of time. Therefore, the FNR wishes to offer flexibility in the handling of grants and grant proposals for projects affected by the pandemic. *last update 8 February 2022*
Following the fast-track FNR COVID-19 Call in 2020, the FNR has opened a new FNR COVID-19 funding instrument. There is no Call per se – projects can be submitted anytime from 21 April 2021 to 15 October 2021. Retained projects will be funded with up to 125,000 EUR for a maximum of 12 months.
CON-VINCE, a national research project aiming to evaluate the prevalence and dynamics of the spread of the COVID-19 disease within the Luxembourgish population, was launched at the beginning of April under the umbrella of the Research Luxembourg COVID-19 Task Force. Following the successful recruitment and first testing effort of more than 1800 participants over the age of 18, a first publication has now been uploaded on the preprint server medRxiv (Reference: MEDRXIV/2020/092916) and will be soon submitted for peer-reviewed scientific publication.
Various partner agencies of the FNR have launched calls for proposals concerning Sars-CoV-2 offering international consortia to submit proposals for research projects tackling COVID19. The calls will be handled under the lead-agency procedure and FNR is prepared to finance the Luxembourg part (eligible to FNR support) of successful projects.