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hook used to open door with arm rather than handUWindsor engineers have designed hands-free door openers, one of 19 UWindsor COVID-related research projects WE-Spark Health Institute announced this week it would be funding.

Funding boosts local COVID-19 research

Researchers at the University of Windsor are heading 19 COVID-related projects funded this week by the WE-Spark Health Institute.

A joint venture of the University of Windsor, Windsor Regional Hospital, Hotel-Dieu Grace Healthcare, and St. Clair College, WE-Spark announced $143,000 in funding for local research related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Of that funding, $64,000 is coming from UWindsor’s Office of Research and Innovation.

“All of these projects will help solve the COVID-19 challenge and contribute to the well-being of our community,” said K.W. Michael Siu, UWindsor’s vice-president, research and innovation.

“I am delighted that the University of Windsor has been able to support, contribute and help fund these important research endeavours.”

The projects include developing earlier or easier tests to diagnose patients, analyzing supply chains to enhance delivery of drugs and healthcare equipment, and establishing a quality-control system so healthcare workers can use homemade masks.

There will be research into the links between vaping or e-cigarette use and potential COVID-19 complications; the psychological effects of the pandemic on healthcare workers, children, and families; COVID’S effect on small businesses; and why some communities are coping better than others.

Other research projects use a video game to show how COVID can be transmitted through communities and analyze physical activity during times of social isolation.

Some projects already underway, including developing locally-produced hand sanitizer and hands-free door pulls, also got funding.

“Right now, like no other time in our history, we depend on research to tackle this global health challenge,” said UWindsor biologist Lisa Porter, WE-Spark executive director.

“Locally WE-Spark is committed to mobilizing our research expertise and supporting new ideas and teams to ensure that the needs of the people in Windsor-Essex are met.”

WE-Spark developed the COVID-19 Rapid Response Grants to jump-start local research projects. Grant amounts ranged from $5,000 to $10,000, and some researchers are partnering with local industry and applying to other funding agencies to cover costs.

The COVID-19 Rapid Response Grants were open to researchers at any of the insititute’s partner organizations. The deadline to apply was April 10.

—Sarah Sacheli

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