CSIC launches coordination team and global health platform to tackle COVID-19

These updates are republished press releases and communications from members of the Science|Business Network

A Covid-19 Coordination Team was created to assess the CSIC’s full research and technical capacity to tackle SARS-CoV2. The team is integrated by six scientists, the Vice-president for Scientific and Technical Research and the director of the president’s office and ensures full integration of activities and resources within the institution.
Regarding the financial resources of the institution, specific budget has been allocated for prioritised and strategic projects. In addition to the research capacities, the CSIC has coordinated of some technical facilities - PCR, 3D printers or reagents, for instance - and made them available to central and regional authorities.

The Thematic Platform “Global Health” has been created to manage and centralise CSIC’s research activities to tackle the pandemic crisis. This platform, promoted by the CSIC's Vice Presidency for Scientific and Technical Research, is coordinated by Dr. Margarita del Val, from the “Severo Ochoa” Centre for Molecular Biology (CBMSO-CSIC-UAM) and supported by a committee of experts in the different areas involved. It comprises more than 150 research groups of different disciplines that will address the challenges posed by the pandemic to try to bring solutions in the short, medium and – specially – long term, including the two groups from the National Centre for Biotechnology (CNB-CSIC) and the Catalan Institute of Nanoscience and Nanotechnology (ICN2) that have already been granted national and European projects to tackle the SARS-CoV2.

One of the keys of the Global Health platform is to have a comprehensive vision on all aspects of the pandemic: from the origin, prevention and treatment of the disease, to containment measures, social impact and communication to society, particularly education. It also includes three cross-cutting working groups: innovation, information sources, and data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) applications. With the support of the MAPFRE Foundation, that gave an important donation to the CSIC for research on coronaviruses, Global Health activities have already started with twelve projects. These projects will provide a better understanding of the virus transmission mechanisms, its dynamics, and its clinical and epidemiological characteristics. They will also develop new diagnostic technologies, test new antiviral combinations and contribute to the development of an effective new antigen-based vaccine.

In addition, about 60 proposals from research groups from all over Spain involved in the Global Health platform, many of them in consortia with Universities, Hospitals and other institutions, were sent in response to the open call of proposals from the Institute of Health Carlos III (ISCIII).

The CSIC President’s specific internal instructions were sent to all the CSIC personnel to normalise all activities within the 120 Centres in Spain. Aligned with National temporary regulations, these instructions include measures such as
teleworking, flexibility for some “ad-hoc” administrative proceedings or restricted access to work while keeping essential services and activities for research.

There is a permanent surveillance and attendance of the CSIC’s President and her team to the requests of the Ministry of Science and Innovation concerning any aspect related to the crisis. This includes the management of the specific
research €4.5 million budget that the National Government has allocated to CSIC and the additional coordination of actions promoted by Regional Governments.

Finally, the CSIC is completely aligned with the measures taken at National level, included and updated at the “OECD Survey on the STI policy responses to Covid-19” site https://stiplab.github.io/Covid19/Spain.html

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