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

uf college of medicine

Scott Brakenridge, MD, MSCS

Assistant Professor of Surgery on the acute care surgery team, UF Health, Department of Surgery

Scott Brakenridge, MD, MSCS

UF College of Medicine

Ashley Brown, PhD

Associate Professor, Institute for Therapeutic Innovation

Ashley Brown, PhD

UF COLLEGE OF PHARMACY

Jürgen Bulitta, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Pharmacotherapy and Translational Research

Jürgen Bulitta, PhD

UF COLLEGE OF DENTISTRY

Robert Burne, PhD

Louis and Marge Atkins Endowed Professor, Distinguished Professor, Department of Oral Biology, Associate Dean for Research

Robert Burne, PhD

UF COLLEGE OF JOURNALISM AND COMMUNICATIONS | uf college of medicine

Carma Bylund, PhD

Professor, Department of Public Relations, Division of Hematology & Oncology, College of Medicine, Member, UF Health Cancer Center

Carma Bylund, PhD

UF COllege of Medicine

Benoit Giasson, PhD

Professor, Department of Neuroscience, Investigator, CTRND and McKnight Brain Institute

Benoit Giasson, PhD

UF COLLEGE OF PHARMACY

Yan Gong, PhD

Associate Professor, Department of Pharmacotherapy & Translational Research

Yan Gong, PhD

UF COLLEGE OF MEDICINE

Christopher Harle, PhD

Professor & Chief Research Information Officer, Department of Health Outcomes & Biomedical Informatics

Christopher Harle, PhD

UF COLLEGE OF MEDICINE

Frederic Kaye, MD

Professor of Medicine, Medical Director of the Thoracic Oncology Program, Director of the Lung Cancer Center, Division of Hematology & Oncology

Frederic Kaye, MD

UF COLLEGE OF PUBLIC HEALTH & HEALTH PROFESSIONS

David Marra, PhD

Post-Doctoral Associate, McKnight Brain Institute, Department of Clinical Health & Health Psychology

David Marra, PhD

UF COLLEGE OF ENGINEERING

Peter McFetridge, PhD

Associate Professor, Integra LifeSciences Term Professor, Graduate Coordinator, Department of Biomedical Engineering

Peter McFetridge, PhD

UF COLLEGE OF PUBLIC HEALTH & HEALTH PROFESSIONS

Sarah McKune, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Environmental & Global Health

Sarah McKune, PhD

UF COLLEGE OF MEDICINE

Lisa Merck, MD, MPH, MA, FACEP

Associate Professor, Vice Chair Of Research, Department of Emergency Medicine

Lisa Merck, MD, MPH, MA, FACEP

UF COLLEGE OF VETERINARY MEDICINE

David Pascual, PhD

Professor of Immunology, Department of Infectious Diseases & Pathology, Emerging Pathogens Institute

David Pascual, PhD

UF COLLEGE OF VETERINARY MEDICINE

Leah Reznikov, PhD

Assistant Professor, Department of Physiological Sciences

Leah Reznikov, PhD

UF COLLEGE OF PUBLIC HEALTH & HEALTH PROFESSIONS

Nicola Sambuco, PhD

Post-Doctoral Associate, Department of Clinical & Health Psychology, Center for the Study of Emotion and Attention

Nicola Sambuco, PhD

Uf coLLEGE OF ENGINEERING

Gregory Sawyer, PhD

Ebaugh Professor, Department of Mechanical & Aerospace Engineering

Gregory Sawyer, PhD

UF COLLEGE OF MEDICINE

Elias Sayour, PhD

Assistant Professor, Departments 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, MD, PhD

UF COLLEGE OF VETERINARY MEDICINE

Christopher Vulpe, MD, PhD

Professor, Department of Physiological Sciences

Christopher Vulpe. MD, 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

April 7, 2020

UF Health making coronavirus testing available to first responders and ER employees

Local first responders and emergency room employees who do not have symptoms of the novel coronavirus but nonetheless worry they have been exposed to it can now receive testing at University of Florida. Health.

COVID19 UF Test and Trace at UF Student Health Care Center.

April 23, 2020

UF study looks at the extent to which children contribute to coronavirus transmission

A new University of Florida study aims to gain a better understanding of the role children play in community transmission of COVID-19.

A student in the College of Nursing's online Nurse Practioner program completes her clinical studies at Gainesville's Eastside Clinic.

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)

July 27, 2020

CTSI pilots, task force spark COVID-19 innovation

For UF researchers, pausing and resuming work brought challenges and sparked creativity as hundreds of teams across campus took aim at COVID-19.

MBI researchers are back to work in their labs in pursuit of new treatments for some of the most vexing neurological conditions

All Pilot Project Awardees

Name college Department project title
Scott Brakenridge, MD, MSCS Medicine Surgery Immunophenotyping the COVID-19 Hospitalized Patients
Ashley Brown, PhD Medicine Medicine Identification of effective antivirals against SARS-CoV-2
Jürgen Bulitta, PhD Pharmacy Pharmacotherapy Developing innovative therapeutic strategies to combating Sars-CoV-2
Robert Burne, PhD Dentistry Oral Biology Antiviral Potential of Commensal Streptococci
Carma Bylund, PhD Journalism | Medicine Public Relations | Hematology/Oncology Doctor-Patient Cancer Communications through Telemedicine during COVID-19
Benoit Giasson, PhD Medicine Neuroscience Novel antibodies to the SARS-CoV-2 spike protein for therapeutic targeting
Yan Gong, PhD Pharmacy Pharmacotherapy & Translational Research Genomics and Pharmacogenomics of susceptibility and severity of COVID-19 in the UK Biobank
Christopher Harle, PhD Medicine Health Outcomes & Biomedical Informatics Rapid Development of Pandemic Models for Actionable Clinical and Administrative Decision Support
Frederic Kaye, MD Medicine Hematology & Oncology Randomized trial of bicalutamide to block TMPRSS2 in males with COVID-19 infection
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
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
David Pascual, PhD Veterinary Medicine Infectious Diseases & Pathology Mucosal Subunit Vaccines for SARS-CoV-2
Leah Reznikov, PhD Veterinary Medicine Physiological Sciences Targeted disruption of ACE2-SARS-CoV-2 interactions using small molecules
Nicola Sambuco, PhD Public Health & Health Professions Clinical & Health Psychology Exposure to COVID-19 trauma and risk factors for developing psychopathology
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)
Elias Sayour, MD, PhD Medicine Neurosurgery Nanoparticle vaccines targeting SARS CoV 2
Christopher Vulpe, MD, PhD Veterinary Medicine Physiological Sciences Identification of host determinants of SARS-CoV-2 infection