COVID-19 Rapid Response Pilots

Amid the worst public health emergency in a lifetime, UF Health leaders have taken steps to speed novel coronavirus research, recognizing the urgent need to provide answers and options to the communities they serve. In April, the CTSI and the Office of the Senior Vice President for Health Affairs created a $2 million pilot research fund for scientists with translational projects that can be rapidly mobilized. The RFA drew unprecedented interest from research teams and resulted in projects spanning colleges and the translational spectrum, all focused on a single, urgent issue. Read more about individual projects in the stories and news releases linked below, and watch recordings of online seminars given by awardees.

CTSI Pilot funding awardees

Rapid-Response Translational Research Projects to Address COVID-19 Pandemic

This RFA was designed to support projects that could be accomplished in six months or less and would contribute new knowledge that could inform the COVID-19 response and/or lay critical groundwork for subsequent research while extramural funding opportunities emerged.

Dr. Elias Sayour consults with other scientists from the McKnight Brain Institute

The CTSI COVID-19 Task Force

About the Task Force

The CTSI COVID-19 Task Force supports the rapid-response pilot awards.

Pilot Awardees

Ashley Brown, PhD

Associate Professor, Institute for Therapeutic Innovation, UF College of Medicine

Ashley Brown, PhD

Jürgen Bulitta, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Pharmacotherapy and Translational Research, UF College of Pharmacy

Jürgen Bulitta, PhD

Elias Sayour, PhD

ssistant Professor of Neurosurgery and Pediatrics, Principal Investigator of the RNA Engineering Laboratory, Preston A. Wells, Jr. Center for Brain Tumor Therapy, UF Brain Tumor Immunotherapy Program.

Elias Sayour, PhD

rapid-response pilot awardee presentations

Translational Science of COVID-19 Seminar Series

The Translational Science of COVID-19 Seminar Series features UF investigators funded by the Rapid-Response Translational Research Projects to Address COVID-19 Pandemic pilot program.

News and Updates

May 14, 2020

Quicker reviews, designated funding is speeding COVID-19 research efforts at UF Health

University of Florida Health researcher Mark Brantly, M.D., and his team are working to evaluate a drug treatment for the novel coronavirus that might block the deadly inflammatory response caused by the disease that curtails the lungs’ ability to function.

Brantly lab

June 8, 2020

UF researchers study whether approved drugs can block transmission of virus behind COVID-19

A new study by University of Florida researchers aims to identify a drug or drugs that can potentially be used to prevent and/or treat infection with COVID-19 by interfering with a known behavior of the virus — the way it binds to its cellular receptor, facilitating transmission to the respiratory system.

Dr. Leah Reznikov and Dr. David Ostrov are shown in Reznikov's lab on June 5. (Photo by Jesse Jones)

All Pilot Project Awardees

Name college Department project title
Elias Sayour, MD, PhD Medicine Neurosurgery Nanoparticle vaccines targeting SARS CoV 2
Ashley Brown, PhD Medicine Medicine Identification of effective antivirals against SARS-CoV-2
Jürgen Bulitta, PhD Pharmacotherapy Pharmacy Developing innovative therapeutic strategies to combating Sars-CoV-2
Christopher Vulpe, MD, PhD Veterinary Medicine Physiological Sciences Identification of host determinants of SARS-CoV-2 infection
Robert Burne, PhD Dentistry Oral Biology Antiviral Potential of Commensal Streptococci
Gregory Sawyer, PhD Engineering Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering CLEARED: Culture of Living-biopsies for Emerging Airway-pathogens and REspiratory Disease (3D printing of lungs and SARS-Cov2)
Scott Brakenridge, MD, MSCS Medicine Surgery Immunophenotyping the COVID-19 Hospitalized Patients
Sarah McKune, PhD Public Health & Health Professions Environmental & Global Health Characterization of COVID-19 Infection and Family Resilience in Symptomatic and Asymptomatic School-Age Children
Lisa Merck, MD Medicine Emergency Medicine Epidemiology of COVID-19 in First Responders
Leah Reznikov, PhD Veterinary Medicine Physiological Sciences Targeted disruption of ACE2-SARS-CoV-2 interactions using small molecules
Carma Bylund, PhD Journalism | Medicine Public Relations | Hematology/Oncology Doctor-Patient Cancer Communications through Telemedicine during COVID-19
Christopher Harle, PhD Medicine Health Outcomes & Biomedical Informatics Rapid Development of Pandemic Models for Actionable Clinical and Administrative Decision Support
Benoit Giasson, PhD Medicine Neuroscience Novel antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein for therapeutic targeting
David Pascual, PhD Veterinary Medicine Infectious Diseases & Pathology Mucosal Subunit Vaccines for SARS-CoV-2
Nicola Sambuco, PhD Public Health & Health Professions Clinical & Health Psychology Exposure to COVID-19 trauma and risk factors for developing psychopathology
David Marra, PhD Public Health & Health Professions Clinical & Health Psychology Investigating Prevalence and Impact of Neurologic Manifestation in COVID-19 Positive Patients:A OneFlorida Research Consortium Study
Peter McFetridge, PhD Engineering Biomedical Engineering A Novel Approach to Induce Rapid Healing, and Minimize Proinflammatory Responses in Covid-19 critical care patients: A pilot stud
Frederic Kaye, MD Medicine Hematology & Oncology Randomized trial of bicalutamide to block TMPRSS2 in males with COVID-19 infection
Yan Gong, PhD Pharmacy Pharmacotherapy & Translational Research Genomics and Pharmacogenomics of susceptibility and severity of COVID-19 in the UK Biobank