Covid-19 research and innovation at the University of Surrey

Research and innovation at the University of Surrey is making a difference in the fight against Covid-19. 

The University of Surrey is working tirelessly to address the Covid-19 pandemic in a wide range of innovative projects. Driving research and innovation to help tackle the global crisis, our experts are working together and with industry from across society to understand Covid-19 and its impact on our lives. 

Microbiologists work to understand basic SARS CoV 2 biology with a view to identifying therapeutic targets

Professor Nicolas Locker is studying how viral proteins affect the stress response pathways in the infected host to identify possible targets for intervention against SARS-CoV-2. This can further help better understand how the virus adapted from bat to human. Professor Locker has also contributed to efforts led at the Vet School by Dr Dan Horton and Professor Roberto La Ragione, in developing novel diagnostic tests and supports the NHS testing by providing home-brewed detection reagents.     

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Professor Nicolas Locker

Leading academic investigates how important vitamin D is to Covid-19 

Professor Susan Lanham-New investigates how important vitamin D is to Covid-19. She has led on an international Consensus Paper specifically on Vitamin D and SARS-CoV-2 Virus/COVID-19 Disease, just published in the British Medical Journal.  She provides advice on Vitamin D to H.M Government including the Cabinet Office and Ministry of Defence. Together with Dr Andrea Darling, the Surrey UK Biobank Team is analysing the effects of ethnicity, body composition, smoking and vitamin D on Covid-19 cases and negative controls. 

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Professor Susan Lanham-New

Doctoral researcher supports national Covid-19 reporting

Postgraduate researcher Steve Falconer from the Department of Mathematics is helping the Royal College of GPs’ Research and Surveillance Centre with their weekly communications and respiratory disease reporting during the Covid-19 pandemic. Steve has had to temporarily move to part-time research for his PhD so that he can spend 2 days a week supporting this work. Steve is supervised by Dr Santitissadeekorn Naratip and Dr David Lloyd.

Postgraduate researcher Steve Falconer

New guidance to support psychological needs of nursing staff during Covid-19 pandemic 

Professor Jill Maben (pictured) and Dr Cath Taylor with Professor Jackie Bridges from the University of Southampton identify the stressors and challenges nurses face during the Covid-19 pandemic and have developed guidance offering strategies for nursing team members across health and social care settings to support their psychological wellbeing. The importance of peer and team support is highlighted in the guidance and outlines what managers, organisations and leaders can do to support nurses at this most critical of time. 

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View Dr Taylor's profile

Professor Jill Maben

Investigating what predicts compliance with rules related to Covid-19 lockdown

Led by Dr Sonia Ingoglia at the University of Palermo and other colleagues in Italy, Spain, France, and Norway, Dr Harriet Tenenbaum is involved in a study to look at what predicts compliance with rules related to lockdown in Italy, Spain, and France. Across over 2,000 participants, social competence and caring in one’s self-schema predict civic engagement and respect for following health-related governmental rules during the Covid-19 pandemic, which, in turn, were associated with trust in public institutions. 

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Dr Harriet Tenenbaum

Covid-19 data represented sonically and musically in ‘Covid-19 Listening Project’ 

Dr Enzo De Sena and Dr Milton Mermikides (pictured) from the Department of Music and Media have set up the Covid-19 Listening Project, dedicated to the sonic and musical representation of Covid-19 data. A choral piece and a genomic-spatial realisation have already been produced using the database of the National Center for Biotechnology Information. It is hoped this will help experts learn more about the virus by identifying anomalies and other clues.  

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View Dr De Sena's profile

Dr Milton Mermikides

Investigating functional change of antibodies in Covid-19

Professor Deborah Dunn-Walters and Dr Alexander Stewart are studying blood samples from Frimley Park Hospital to characterise the dynamics of class switching in B cells during Covid-19 infection. This is where disease-specific antibodies change their function, e.g. from IgM to IgG or IgA.  This will provide information to inform later studies assessing vaccine responses and may help to identify biomarkers of disease severity.  Together with Dr Natalie Riddell and Dr Fernando Martinez Estrada all samples undergo immunophenotyping.

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Professor Deborah Dunn-Walters

Developing a point-of-care Covid-19 test

Dr Anil Fernando (pictured) from CVSSP is working with Professor Roberto La Ragione, Dr Dan Horton and colleagues from the School of Veterinary Medicine and scientists from Lancaster University and Brunel University London to develop an inexpensive, rapid, point-of-care diagnostic test that can inform people if they have Covid-19 in 30 minutes. A mobile-based app for the device can control it, track users’ movements and contact anyone who has had a close interaction with a diagnosed person. 

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View Professor La Ragione's profile

View Dr Horton's profile

Dr Anil Fernando

Doctoral researcher contributes to national taskforce on mental health

Emma Wadey has temporarily interrupted her PhD write-up to fulfil a role as Clinical Lead for the National Mental health and Learning Disability & Autism COVID-19 response cell, providing clinical advice and oversight. Emma is Head of Mental Health Nursing in NHS England and NHS Improvement and has been supervised by Professor Sara Faithfull and Dr Anne Arber.

Emma Wadey

Investigating the contribution of lockdown measures during the Covid-19 outbreak

Professor Inga Prokopenko (pictured), Mr Kostiantyn Rudomotkin, Dr Marika Kaakinen and Dr Zhanna Balkhiiarova are investigating the contribution of lockdown measures, including social distancing for prolonged period of time during the Covid-19 outbreak. POSEIDON-PHACT study implements an online questionnaire about individual physical activity and wellbeing . This international multi-centre study already collected data from 625 respondents and will enable the development of preventive measures to maintain individual psycho-physical health. 

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View Mr Rudomotkin's profile

View Dr Kaakinen's profile

Professor Inga Prokopenko

Examining the wellbeing of young people during the Covid-19 lockdown

Dr Eleanor Ratcliffe (pictured) and Dr Birgitta Gatersleben are working with a local sixth form college to examine the wellbeing of young people during lockdown and their (use of) their living environment. Preliminary findings of the survey support the predicted importance of access to private spaces and natural environments for hedonic (mood) and eudaimonic (feeling connected to others, having a sense of purpose) wellbeing under lockdown.  

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View Dr Gaterslaben's profile

Dr Eleanor Ratcliffe

Studying risk perceptions associated with Covid-19 in different European and South American countries 

Dr Birgitta Gatersleben is working with Dr Fátima Bernardo from the Universidade de Évora in Portugal to study risk perceptions associated with Covid-19 in different European (UK, Spain, Portugal, Germany) and South American countries (Brazil, Chile). The study examines whether risk perceptions differ between countries, change over time (due to Government responses) and are related to place attachment. Preliminary findings point to some expected differences, however, in general this global pandemic appears to affect perceptions across the world in similar ways.  

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Dr Birgitta Gatersleben

Surrey academic helps develop privacy focused Covid-19 tracing app

Professor Glenn Parry proposed a privacy-preserving tracing app, using technology from his previous research, in the Hack-From-Home COVID19 hackathon. 822 participants from 62 countries joined and the team he helped form won the event with their HealthTraffic app. The collaborators, now led by Case Western University, were granted £7,000 and have created the ShareTrace Covid-19 tracing and health monitoring app, which they hope to deploy in the US. 

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Professor Glenn Parry

Doctoral researcher pauses PhD to return to clinical practice

Duncan Hamilton, a newly-registered nurse, has continued working in clinical practice on a local respiratory ward. Duncan has co-authored an article in Nursing Standard about ethical practice during the pandemic and acknowledged in an editorial on staff wellbeing in the Journal of Clinical Nursing. Duncan is supervised by Professor Jill Maben and Dr Cath Taylor in the School of Health Sciences.

Duncan Hamilton

Global study launched to examine impact of Covid-19 on health and wellbeing 

Dr YingFei Héliot, in collaboration with researchers at LSE and Nottingham Trent University, has launched a global study to examine the impact of Covid-19 on mental health and wellbeing. It aims to uncover social implications such as resilience, health attitudes and behaviour, political standing, and responsiveness as citizens. The study will provide evidence-based guidance for policy makers in dealing with population-based emergencies and foster growth after experiencing crisis and traumatic events. 

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YingFei Heliot

Team helps NHS predict levels of care required by patients by looking for tractable biomarkers of disease severity

Dr Mel Bailey and colleagues in Chemistry are collaborating with the Immunology Section to collect blood and sebum samples from Covid-19 patients at Frimley Park Hospital.  In conjunction with the UK Mass Spectrometry Coalition, they will undertake metabolomics, lipidomics and proteomics.  They are looking for tractable biomarkers of disease severity in order to help the NHS predict the levels of care required by patients at early stages of disease.  The study is supported by volunteers from Surrey’s Postgraduate research community who received funding from EPSRC. 

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Dr Mel Bailey and team

Link identified between dietary selenium and outcome of Covid-19 disease

Professor Margaret Rayman has led an international team of researchers in identifying a link between the Covid-19 cure rate and selenium status. Selenium is an essential trace mineral known to affect the severity of a number of viral diseases in animals and humans; its intake varies markedly across China. The Covid-19 cure rate in different Chinese cities was found to be significantly associated with selenium status, measured by the amount of selenium in people’s hair in those cities. 

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Professor Margaret Rayman

Smart Separations steals show with its Covid-19 solution at European Innovation Council’s ePitching

Smart Separations, a microfiltration technology company, based at the Surrey Research Park, is finalising testing on its anti-viral air transmission units which can be used to remove coronavirus and other viruses and bacteria from the air. Smart Separations has just been crowned winner of an e-Pitching session to the European Innovation Council for its nano technology-based smart coating, which destroys viruses, bacteria and mold. It can be used on air and surfaces, two of the main ways that Coronvirus spreads. 

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Hugo Macedo, founder of Smart Separations

Eurofins County Pathology now set to deliver 5,000 Covid-19 antibody tests a day 

Eurofins County Pathology, a high-quality diagnostic service provider, has been involved in the provision of the antibody testing kits for Covid-19 from the outset and has now expanded its laboratory space on Surrey Research Park to increase its provision of tests. To help meet the urgent need for increased testing, Eurofins County Pathology has benefited from being located on Surrey Research Park, with the team responding quickly to provide suitable extra laboratory space in Surrey Technology Centre. 

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Eurofins County Pathology - Covid-19 test

Ergomed announces provision of clinical research services for Covid-19 

Located on Surrey Research Park, Ergomed plc, provides specialised services to the pharmaceutical industry. It is currently involved in a clinical research study of a monoclonal antibody for Covid-19 patients who have developed serious respiratory complications.   

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Ergomed and coronavirus research

Igenomix UK repurpose its laboratory to deliver Covid-19 PCR tests 

Located on Surrey Research Park, Igenomix UK, a medical laboratory offering genetic tests for fertility treatment, has diverted its resources to carry out Covid-19 PCR tests for both its private and NHS patients as well as their network of clinicians. 

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Igenomix PCR test

Using scientific modelling to understand Covid-19 

Dr Pete Barbrook-Johnson is part of a team led by Durham University providing Covid-19 analysis and modelling to NHS trusts in the north-east of England. This work is helping decision-makers understand the uncertainty around forecasts models are providing them and allowing them to combine the outputs of many models rather than rely on a few. Pete is also working with colleagues in the Centre for the Evaluation of Complexity Across the Nexus (CECAN) to explore the impacts of Covid-19 on rural areas. 

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Dr Peter Barbrook-Johnson

Analysing respiratory data of patients with Covid-19

Professor Philip Aston will be working with Iceni Labs, Royal Papworth Hospital and KCL analysing respiratory data of patients with Covid-19. Iceni Labs have developed a non-contact device for monitoring chest motion which the Royal Papworth Hospital will be using to collect data from Covid patients. This data will be analysed using the Symmetric Projection Attractor Reconstruction method at Surrey in order to determine the characteristic breathing patterns associated with progression through the disease and in response to treatment. 

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Professor Philip Aston

Studying how different types of face masks can protect from the infection of SARS-CoV-2 in public built spaces 

In response to the current global public health crisis, Professor Prashant Kumar plays an active role in the clean air community. Currently, he is participating in two Royal Society Rapid Assistance in Modelling the Pandemic (RAMP) volunteer initiatives and is part of an international effort making a case for the recognition of airborne transmission. Among others, his team is studying the impact of lockdown on air quality in different cities, including ODA countries, and how different types of face masks can offer protection from the infection of SARS-CoV-2 in public built spaces. 

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Professor Prashant Kumar

Reviewing practices in world cities for dealing with Covid-19 

Professor Lampros Stergioulas and colleagues from Surrey Business School are reviewing practices in cities around the world in dealing with the Covid-19 crisis. Reviewed issues include social isolation and other wellbeing and psychological effects, supply chains and public information actions. This research aims to produce policy-making recommendations to support evidence-based policy making and informed decision support in dealing with the Covid-19 crisis. 

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Professor Lampros Stergioulas

Studying the role of blood coagulation activation and development of thrombi that occurs in lungs of Covid-19 patients

Professor John McVey is working with collaborators at the Royal Free London NHS Trust to understand the role of blood coagulation activation and the development of thrombi that occurs in the lungs of patients with Covid-19. They are profiling a range of markers of inflammation, lung and blood vessel damage as well as blood coagulation in the plasma of these patients. It is hoped this will further our understanding of this life-threatening complication of this devastating infection and lead to more effective treatment. 

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Professor John McVey

Examining the impact of new technology used in video court hearings

Professor Nigel Fielding (pictured), Professor Sabine Braun and colleagues from the Department of Sociology and the Centre for Translation Studies have published an evaluation of Video Enabled Justice offering insights for courts, court users and others at a time when the Covid-19 pandemic has necessitated a rapid increase in the use of courtroom technology. The evaluation was commissioned by the Home Office in partnership with the Sussex Police & Crime Commissioner.

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View Professor Braun's profile

Professor Nigel Fielding

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