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COVID-19: two projects retained for the Paris-Saclay University exceptional research program

Paris-Saclay University as well as its component institutions and member-associated universities , their partner national research organisms, and the LERMIT, CHARMMMAT, LASIPS and NanoSaclay laboratories of excellence (LabExs) collectively decided to release funds for research projects targeting the COVID-19 pandemic. Chosen in an internal call for proposals, 27 projects will cumulatively receive €915,700 in financing. Among the laureates are the CNRGH and IRCM, with their respective projects COVIDOGEN and BIOTHETARCOVI.

Published on 21 June 2020

The extraordinary health crisis currently sweeping the globe makes only more obvious the crucial role that scientific research plays in the future of humanity. Around the world, universities are not only crossroads at which knowledge is gained and transmitted to young generations, but also battle lines ready to face the immense challenges in innovation in front of us.

From the very start of the COVID-19 pandemic, like many of its counterparts, Paris-Saclay University has been mobilizing its competencies. As a key part of its efforts, the university, with its partners, launched a dedicated, exceptional research program involving an internal call for proposals.

That program comprises :

-> a short-term objective of participating in international research and contributing to knowledge production to better control the pandemic and limit immediate health consequences;

-> a long-term objective of anticipating post-crisis research and constructing a sustainable  post-COVID-19 world."

Of the 23 projects retained (total of 46 submitted) by the jury for a cumulative funding of €795,700, two were the fruit of divisions within the François Jacob Institute of Biology :

  • The first is COVIDOGEN, or "Integrated genetic analysis of susceptibility, evolution and response of patients infected by SARS-CoV-2," proposed by Jean-François Deleuze of the National Center of Human Genomics Research (CNRGH). This project will involve mixed genetic studies (candidate genes and pangenomic association studies) on host predisposition to SARS-CoV-2 infection combined with an analysis of viral genome variants in the CORIMUNO cohort. It aims at identifying stratification and treatment markers and furthermore providing data on viral strain diversity to aid the development of vaccines. The transdisciplinary COVIDOGEN project will call upon the competencies of other institute divisions such as IRCM and IDMIT.
  • The second is BIOTHETARCOVI, or "Characterization of biomarkers and therapeutic targets of COVID-19-associated inflammation," proposed by Paul-Henri Romeo of the Research Laboratory on Repair and Transcription in Hematopoietic Stem Cells (LRTS) within the Research Institute of Cellular and Molecular Radiobiology (IRCM). This project has three primary objectives: (1) characterize biomarkers that may predict the intensity of the inflammatory reactions observed in severe cases of COVID-19; (2) search for possible deregulation of the KEAP1-NRF2 signaling pathway, which inhibits inflammation progression; (3) assess KEAP1-NRF2 activator molecules as a path toward therapies able to prevent extreme inflammatory responses.

The exceptional research program illustrates the determination of the partner institutes and work communities to, in coherency with their missions, take part in the production of knowledge to better battle the COVID-19 pandemic. The program takes existing, national and international calls for proposals and initiatives into consideration, with the goal of reinforcing their effectiveness or forwarding complementary projects.



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