Lancaster University Battles COVID-19


Covid emergency fund

COVID-19 – How your University Made an Impact 

 

No part of the UK has remained untouched by the impact of COVID-19, but from the beginning Lancaster University has been part of global efforts to understand this virus and its impact on both the UK’s national population and on the northern communities in which it is integrated.  

The pandemic has been a shock, which will require us all to adapt. Lancaster has always prided itself on being a powerful contemporary player, rooted in its community and at the top of the game on research. These values have given it the flexibility to respond on a global level, without individuals being neglected.  

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AT THE SHARP END 

Virology expertise in the Department of Biomedical and Life Sciences, especially that of Dr Muhamad Munir on influenza viruses, coronavirus and the molecular mechanisms of inter-species pathogenesis of viruses - put Lancaster on the frontline of pandemic science and research. 

  • A team led by Dr Munir developed a new smart testing device for COVID-19 incorporating artificial intelligence, image processing, molecular virology working with researchers at Brunel University London and University of Surrey. It is capable of detecting COVID-19 in 30 minutes using an intelligent smartphone application, at any location with very minimal training even by people self-isolating. The team is also working on adding a tele-medicine functionality to the mobile app which can control the device, track the user’s movement. 
  • Lancaster University opened its own labs to offer greater capacity for COVID-19 testing of NHS staff and patients after an approach from the University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust (UHMBT). University staff from Biomedical and Life Sciences worked with employees from the diagnostic labs at UHMBT using NHS-supplied testing kits, to speed up results and relieve pressure on the struggling health service. 
  • At the Environment Centre and the UK Centre for Ecology and Hydrology, scientists donated specialist equipment they commonly use to identify viruses in army worms, to help in the global fight against COVID-19. The kit was collected by the military from the campus and delivered to scientists in Milton Keynes, analysing swabs to identify the COVID-19 genome from DNA samples.  
  • New emergency-style palliative care guidance to meet the needs of COVID-19 patients too sick to benefit from a ventilator were addressed for the first time by Lancaster researchers. In a paper published in The Journal of Pain and Symptom Management, the researchers explained how palliative care needs to adapt in order to help make the best decisions and support families during the pandemic. 

 

TECHNICAL HELP 

A team of Lancaster University engineers and technicians focused their technical expertise in 3D printing, casting and injection moulding to make thousands of curtain hooks per week to help patients retain their dignity in hospital despite the overstretched services. They also made hundreds of headbands for protective face visors for local NHS Trusts. 

 

SUPPORTING NHS RESEARCH 

 *Michael West, Professor of Organisational Psychology from Lancaster University’s Management School (LUMS) has been serving on the NHS England/Improvement COVID-19 national task force for staff support and wellbeing. His videos based on research for NHS Wales (HEIW) and for NHS England/Improvement focus on compassionate leadership, looking after colleagues and working in crisis teams. His research looks at employee engagement and exploring factors that enable teams to be most effective.  

  • Departmental Administrator in Mathematics and Statistics, Lauren Emery, transformed her spare bedroom in lockdown into a production line to print 3D face shields for frontline NHS staff. She, and her partner, Stephen McEvoy (who completed his MSc at Lancaster last year) bought a 3D printer, formed a Facebook group and made face shields for £1 per shield. They have been supplying GP surgeries, hospitals and care homes in the Lancashire and Cumbria area, including 60 that will be delivered to the North West Ambulance Service. 
  • A Lancaster psychologist was part of a UK team researching the experiences of UK oncology staff working during the COVID-19 crisis. Claire Hardy from the Centre for Organisational Health and Well-Being is the lead psychology researcher in a team brought together by The Royal Marsden NHS Foundation Trust in London. Collaborators were looking to increase understanding of working in the NHS during the pandemic and to help shape existing and future policies. 

 

WORLD STAGE 

Lancaster University brought together some of the world’s leading economists, including two Nobel Laureates, at a special online event to discuss behavioural insights into the COVID-19 crisis. Nobel Prize-winning Economists, Professor Vernon Smith and Professor Robert Aumann, joined more than 350 people from around the world for the Lancaster University 2020 Behavioural and Experimental Conference

 

SOCIAL CARE 

A novel UK-wide study has been brought together to look at the impact of social service closures due to coronavirus on the lives of older people, people with dementia and unpaid carers. An expert team of NHS, voluntary and academic collaborators from Lancaster University, the University of Liverpool, UCLAN, University of Bradford, and UCL, examined the impact of self-isolation on wellbeing.  

 

COVID-19 EMERGENCY SUPPORT FUND 

The Coronavirus pandemic presents an unprecedented global challenge. We have established the COVID-19 Emergency Support Fund to help us respond to this fast-developing situation.  

As an institution, we are contributing in many ways to help the global response to the pandemic. This includes our scientists working on various projects such as fast testing and new operating models to protect front-line medical staff from the virus. We are collaborating closely with the NHS, local government, our regional community and local businesses, harnessing the resources of the University to support national and regional efforts wherever we can. We are also continuing to look after the welfare of our students, whether they remain on our campus or are forced to study remotely. 

Vitally, we want to support our medical school students and recent graduates who are working on the front-line to help combat the virus. These students are now providing essential support to hospitals across the North West. We want to ensure that they do not fall into financial difficulties during this challenging time and ultimately, thank them for their selflessness and dedication. 

“Forthose of us at home who face the challenge of self-isolation and social-distancing from those we love, being unable to contribute physically to this global effort can leave us feeling helpless. Any donation you can make will help us respond positively to the challenges of Covid-19 and together we can make a real difference." 

Professor Dame Sue Black, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Engagement 

To contribute to this emergency fund visit https://www.lancaster.ac.uk/giving/covid19-emergency-fund/       

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