New COVID-19 rapid research funding for York professors


TORONTO, Monday, March 23, 2020 – Three more York University professors will receive $703,217 in funding for COVID-19 related research to better inform the best way forward, the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) announced. Two other York researchers are co-applicants on another $666,667.

Announced recently, this new funding follows a previous COVID-19 rapid research funding announced on March 6 by CIHR for three other York projects.

The researchers from the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies (LA&PS) and the Faculty of Science will look at how supply chain disruptions are affecting medical and pharmaceutical industries and how social media is spreading misinformation, fostering racism and xenophobia, and hindering the capacity of public health officials to communicate scientific facts. They will also evaluate how intervention strategies can help decision-makers identify the type and intensity of control measures needed for containment.

“York University is thrilled that three additional researchers from the Faculty of Liberal Arts & Professional Studies and the Faculty of Science will receive funding for COVID-19 rapid research projects,” said Interim Vice-President Research & Innovation Rui Wang. “This new funding will contribute to a global effort and could have a huge impact on how information is delivered, supply chains work, and the rate of disease transmission in future outbreaks.”

Funding will come from CIHR in partnership with the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada, the Social Sciences and Humanities Research Council, the International Development Research Centre, and Genome Canada.

Professor Harris Ali of LA&PS and the Advanced Disaster, Emergency and Rapid Response Simulation (ADERSIM) facility at York and Associate Professor Fuyuki Kurasawa of the Department of Sociology in LA&PS, will receive $308,183 to study how social media misinformation shapes public health and lay responses to COVID-19, and what public health strategies and public policies can be adopted to combat it and its stigmatizing social impacts. They will track misinformation about COVID-19 on Western social media platforms, such as Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and Reddit, and Chinese social media platforms, such as WeChat, Weibo, Tencent, and Toutiao. Read more in today’s Conversation Canada piece.

Computational epidemiology Professor Seyed Moghadas of the Department of Mathematics and Statistics in the Faculty of Science will receive $264,434 from CIHR to develop new and adapt existing mathematical models to predict the scope of disease transmission, potential outbreaks, and clinical attack rates. He will also project what services hospitals will require and assess the effects of interventions, such as quarantine, self-reporting, isolation and school closures. In addition, he will evaluate the effectiveness of a vaccine and best distribution scenarios based on population age and risk.

Associate Professor (Decision Sciences) Fuminori Toyasaki of the School of Administrative Studies in LA&PS and ADERSIM will receive $130,600 from CIHR to study countermeasures to the supply chain disruptions in medical and pharmaceutical industries. His project will focus on the supply chain disruptions that medical and pharmaceutical industries are currently facing as a result of strategic hoarding by suppliers and consumer panic buying. In addition, he will explore the feasibility of two countermeasures – a collaborative stock sharing/transshipment system and an incentive contract with a potential second source that can produce highly customized medical and pharmaceutical items.

Professor Jianhong Wu of the Faculty of Science and director of ADERSIM is leading a national COVID-19 math modelling team. The Fields Institute for Research in Mathematical Sciences has received $666,667, along with local and international partners, to mobilize this national network of infectious disease modellers to develop mathematical technologies to assess transmission risk of COVID-19 and project outbreak trajectories. Co-applicants include Associate Professor Ali Asgary, deputy director of ADERSIM and the School of Administrative Studies in LA&PS, Professor Jane Heffernan and Professor Huaiping Zhu, director of the Centre for Disease Modelling in the Faculty of Science, and Professor Adriano Solis of the School of Administrative Studies in LA&PS. These researchers are evaluating public health interventions for its prevention and control, and to inform public health policy makers. Their goal is to conduct multi-scale modelling to assist in the development of effective intervention and mitigation strategies.

For more information, visit the CIHR project website.


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