Six Faculty of Science and Engineering COVID-19 research projects funded

The University of Liverpool has repurposed £98,000 of its EPSRC Impact Acceleration Account funds to support six critical COVID-19 research projects.

The work spans a range of areas including nanomedicine, antiviral surfaces and materials, plasma-activated sanitation products, AI-based medical image analyses, diagnostics and data to support decision-making.

Impact Acceleration Accounts are strategic awards provided to institutions to support knowledge exchange and impact from their EPSRC funded research.

The repurposed funding is supporting six projects:

Professor Steve Rannard and Dr Tom McDonald, Department of Chemistry
Nanoparticle dispersions for pulmonary delivery of antiviral drugs to combat COVID-19
Limited ventilator availability is currently a global issue. This project aims to provide an alternative to ventilation by building upon ongoing solid drug nanoparticle formulation research of antivirals to develop therapeutic nebulised medicine options for COVID-19 treatment.

Professor Rasmita Raval, Department of Chemistry
Anti-viral surfaces and materials
Existing disposable anti-viral surfaces – that can be readily replaced for example as a new patient moves into a bay – will be optimised and translated to acquire anti-COVID-19 properties.

Professor James Walsh, Department of Electrical Engineering and Electronics
Plasma-activated aerosols for on-demand ambulance sanitisation
This work addresses an urgent need to increase the efficiency of ambulance cleaning procedures by using aerosolised plasma activated water for rapid ambulance sanitisation. Researchers will exploit the advantageous characteristics of plasma activated water to develop a low cost handheld sanitisation device, enabling crews to rapidly clean their own ambulance without large quantities of liquid disinfectant or returning the ambulance to a cleaning centre.

Dr Yalin Zheng, Department of Eye and Vision Science
AI-based medical image analyses to speed up accurate diagnosis of COVID-19
New artificial intelligence techniques will be developed for fast and accurate diagnosis of COVID-19 using automated interpretation of CT and X-ray images. The resulting software tools will be made publicly available free of charge after initial internal validations.

Professor Scott Ferson, Department of Civil Engineering and Industrial Design
Effect of diagnostic uncertainty in mass testing on the spread of COVID-19
This project aims to support clinical decision making through a robust estimation of the efficacy of the UK testing strategies during the ‘containment phase’. A second phase will develop analyses of a variety of testing strategies applicable at community and national level.

Professor Simon Maskell, Department of Electrical Engineering and Electronics
Capitalising on big hypotheses for significantly better decision support for COVID-19
This project will empower COVID-19 decision makers by developing a data fusion system to bring together key expertise from disparate sources to improve the holistic understanding of COVID-19. A prototype system could provide, for example, daily forecasts of ICU bed demands for each NHS region in the UK to help decision makers agree appropriate social distancing measures.

Professor Ric Williams, APVC for Research & Impact for Science & Engineering said: “We are committed to doing what we can to address the COVID-19 crisis that we all face, drawing upon our skills in science and engineering to offer new ways forward in the treatment, prevention, diagnosis and decision making for the pandemic.  These projects provide proof of concepts and we will work to develop more substantial bids to UKRI to further strengthen our contribution from across the University to work against this crisis.”

Click here to find out more about the University’s response to COVID-19.