PHF Awards Grants to OU Health Sciences Center for COVID-19 Research

Published: Monday, April 20, 2020

The Presbyterian Health Foundation (PHF) is awarding $175,000 to the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center for researchers to launch investigations into the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19. These funds will be augmented with $125,000 from the OU Health Sciences Center for a total of $300,000 in seed grant funding.

The OU Health Sciences Center anticipates funding 12 pilot projects at $25,000 each. Research projects will focus on the cellular and molecular aspects of SARS-CoV-2 infection, host immune responses to the virus, detection, and clinical characteristics of COVID-19. The awards are considered seed funding that will allow researchers to launch investigations, then leverage their discoveries to earn federal funding from the National Institutes of Health.

“PHF’s regular support of seed grants, like this round announced for COVID-19 research, is at the heart of what we do,” said PHF President Tom R. Gray, III. “Helping Oklahoma researchers launch new COVID-19 research projects and potentially leverage external funding to move their discoveries forward not only supports an important sector of our local economy, but is a great investment in the public health of Oklahomans, especially during this unprecedented time in our lives.”

PHF has been a major funder of research programs at the OU Health Sciences Center. Since 2014, PHF has granted $16.1 million toward research funding, which scientists have used to further their investigations and acquire necessary equipment. Researchers have leveraged the total amount of PHF funding to earn $121.5 million in additional research grants from multiple federal funding sources.

With the outbreak of a global pandemic, PHF funding will again be crucial as researchers pursue answers concerning COVID-19, said James Tomasek, Ph.D., Vice President for Research at the OU Health Sciences Center. Because the virus has never been seen before in humans, there are many unanswered questions; uncovering those answers will hold the key toward improved patient care, vaccine development, and methods of controlling the virus in the future.

“Research is an integral component of the response to COVID-19, and we are grateful to PHF for its generous support. It will allow our researchers to launch a number of different projects into the behavior of the virus and methods to better detect and treat it,” Tomasek said. “Our research community is eager to investigate the intricacies of the virus and contribute to the global effort against the pandemic.”