NSF awards $1 million grant to UB team led by CII members to help prepare for next pandemic “It won’t matter how good our early-warning system is if when we do issue warnings, the community doesn’t respond” says Jennifer Surtees Photos of Lead PI Surtees, and co-PIs E. Bruce Pitman and Laurene Tumiel-Berhalter.

NSF Awards $1 million grant to UB team led by CII members to help prepare for next pandemic

The grant addresses the lack of collaboration and trust among researchers, public health officials, government and the public that hampered the response to COVID-19. To build trust with the public, the UB team will build on its strong relationships with a number of local and regional partners.

They introduced genomic sequencing of the coronavirus to Western New York. They sampled wastewater to determine the level of the virus locally. They partnered with local groups to boost vaccinations and share scientific information in user-friendly ways.

“They” are UB faculty, whose collective efforts since the start of the pandemic have resulted in numerous projects that have tangibly benefitted the local population.

Now, many of those researchers have been awarded an 18-month, $1 million grant from the National Science Foundation aimed at developing ways to improve preparedness for the next pandemic.

“Given the wealth of cross-disciplinary innovations that UB faculty developed to help our community meet the many challenges of the SARS-CoV2 pandemic, it is entirely fitting that they have now been selected to lead cutting-edge research into how best to tackle and prepare for the next one,” says Venu Govindaraju, vice president for research and economic development.

The new award brings together a large, diverse team of UB researchers from such disciplines as genetics, environmental engineering, mathematical modeling and community-based participatory research, who leveraged their own expertise toward mitigation strategies during the SARS-CoV2 pandemic. Local community groups will also play a key role.

[Read More]