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TACKLING COVID-19 TOGETHER

IISER Pune has launched the initiative "Tackling COVID-19 Together" to address the COVID-19 pandemic through exchange of information and resources. A combined effort of IISER Pune faculty members, students, and staff along with the other partnering organisations, this programme includes setting up of a testing centre on the campus, carrying out research on COVID-19, and reaching out to communities beyond the campus. Some of these initiatives are highlighted below; a detailed listing can be viewed here.

TESTING FOR COVID-19

Given that expanding the Nation’s capacity for testing for COVID-19 is the most crucial element in effectively managing the spread of the pandemic, IISER Pune is preparing to set up a COVID-19 testing facility on the institute campus. Our Action Team for COVID-19 Testing is working towards establishing the required physical infrastructure and getting standard operating procedures in place, keeping in mind safety and physical distancing precautions. The Institute hopes to begin testing soon, pending a review and approval of our preparations from the ICMR. 

RESEARCH ON COVID-19 AND SARS-CoV-2

Our team is pursuing their research efforts against COVID-19 even as the lockdown is on. Some of these are in the ideation and planning phases while in a few others work has already been initiated and is in progress. Some of these projects include collaborators from outside IISER Pune. 

Ventilators and PPE

Ventilators assist patients with breathing and personal protection equipment (PPE) keeps doctors safe while working to treat patients. Ventilators are limited in number and are expensive. To meet a likely increase in demand, our researchers have developed a low-cost ventilator prototype and are looking to partner with a manufacturer for production. Work on making antibacterial and antiviral spray-coating for personal protection equipment is also ongoing.

Diagnostics

Simpler and inexpensive methods to diagnose COVID-19 can help in greatly expanding the testing capacity, even if as preliminary screening methods. A group at the institute is assessing if loss in sense of smell can be employed as an early indicator for COVID-19. Nano-biosensor platforms and carbon nanotube based surveillance are some of the advanced technologies that are planned to be tested for their potential in diagnosis. Work is underway on a peptide-based diagnostic assay for the detection of SARS-CoV-2 through S-protein epitopes and on the development of fluorescence-based peptide diagnostics without secondary antibodies.
 
Prevention and Treatment

Some of our research groups plan to look for lead candidates for the development of vaccines and are working on chemical inhibitors that could help us find potential drug candidates.

Molecular and Modelling Studies

Our researchers plan to study the biological features of SARS-CoV-2:  features that define the function of the virus, that cause the development of the disease, and those that damage metabolic pathways following an infection. Using a computational modelling approach, our team members also plan to produce an infectious diseases hotspot map for India with predictive capabilities.

COMMUNITY SERVICE AND 
PUBLIC ENGAGEMENT

A team of volunteers from the campus is in the process of making short educational videos to address myths surrounding the virus and is working on preparing relief kits with dry ration and hygiene products to high-risk families in the neighborhood adjoining the campus. 

A rapid COVID-19 related literature explorer, based on the contextual similarity of research articles, is being worked on. A website prototype has been deployed  http://coronastory.in and the team has carried out annotation of COVID-19 research article dataset for NLP research community.

Members from the MANAV team on campus are creating a tool that can curate COVID-19 related published information from Twitter, rate the content and make it easily accessible to a general readership. MANAV also runs a regular online quiz on COVID-19 to engage students with verified information on the pandemic.

IISER Pune intends to execute the above activities to their meaningful completion and also initiate more such activities to fight the COVID-19 pandemic. We invite contributions from corporates and individuals alike; every rupee counts in such tough times. You can make your contributions to IISER Pune through electronic funds transfer; please visit https://www.iiserpune.ac.in/donate/ to CONTRIBUTE NOW. For more information and tax-related queries, please write to giving-to@iiserpune.ac.in.

 

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