QuestCap Inc. makes timely $1-million investment in Sunnybrook to establish research group dedicated to fighting COVID-19


Canada NewsWire

TORONTO, April 1, 2020 /CNW/ – On behalf of QuestCap Inc., Stan Bharti, Co-Chair of QuestCap, has announced an immediate investment of $1 million in Sunnybrook’s COVID-19 research. With these funds, Sunnybrook will establish the Sunnybrook Translational Research Group for Emerging and Respiratory Viruses (SERV).

Led by infectious diseases physician and microbiologist Dr. Samira Mubareka, SERV’s work will focus on three crucial streams of research: vaccines and therapeutics, virus biology and transmission prevention. Dedicated investment in SERV means Dr. Mubareka and her team will be able to accelerate the pace of further research into COVID-19 at a crucial time.

“This is extremely time-sensitive research,” says Dr. Mubareka. “As a scientist on the frontlines, I have seen the devastation this virus can cause. We all feel the effects of physical distancing as our lives are fundamentally changed. This is why support from our community is so important right now. The more we understand how this virus behaves, the better we can limit its spread as we race to find a treatment or vaccine. This investment will be put to work immediately toward our human and operational funding needs to rapidly accelerate research into COVID-19.”  

“Now is the time to dedicate as many resources as possible to stopping the spread of this highly contagious virus,” explains Dr. Andy Smith, Sunnybrook’s President and CEO. “On behalf of Sunnybrook, I would like to extend my deepest thanks to Stan Bharti and QuestCap Inc., for stepping up with this inspiring investment. Your support will have a direct impact on the lives of countless people in our communities, across Canada and around the world.”

Sunnybrook has been at the global forefront of the COVID-19 pandemic since the first Canadian case was identified, both clinically and on the research front. Dr. Mubareka, along with clinical microbiologist Dr. Robert Kozak and a team of close collaborators, has led Sunnybrook’s research response efforts since the earliest days of the pandemic. Their work has been globally significant, leading to early implementation of a hospital-based COVID-19 test. Most crucially, on March 10, 2020, their team isolated the agent responsible for the ongoing outbreak of COVID-19. The isolated virus is helping researchers in Canada to develop better diagnostic testing, treatments and vaccines, and gain a better understanding of the virus’s biology, evolution and clinical shedding.

With these crucial tools in hand, QuestCap saw an opportunity to give this research a major boost at a critical juncture. “As countries grapple with the effects of COVID-19, there has been a collective global effort to help minimize the impacts of this deadly virus.  QuestCap, through its investment platform, is looking to do its part by providing a critical investment to help fund the vital research being conducted by Dr. Mubareka, Dr. Kozak and their teams.” 

“At a time of global uncertainty as COVID-19 continues to devastate people, families and entire countries, the urgency of research has never been greater,” says Dr. Kullervo Hynynen, Vice President of Research & Innovation at Sunnybrook. “Yet, often times, there simply isn’t enough funding for research. I am deeply grateful to Mr. Bharti and QuestCap for this clear statement on supporting the power of research to save and change lives.”

About the research

SERV is a three-pronged COVID-19 research response program, consisting of the following critically important areas of focus:

1. Virus biology (genomics): Identifying the genetic sequence of a virus is an essential step for identifying key targets for treatments and vaccines. It also tells the story of origin and its relation to other viruses. This approach provides precision genomic data, which will be essential for outbreak investigation. Funds for SERV allow Sunnybrook scientists to turn around whole genome viral sequences at the site of care: Sunnybrook.

2. Vaccines and therapeutics: Our ability to identify and isolate the virus that causes COVID-19, based on samples from infected patients, allows us to collaborate on antiviral research and conduct our own vaccine and transmission work. With SERV, Sunnybrook will share our findings about the virus within the Canadian research and diagnostic community, thereby driving further innovative solutions to the COVID-19 pandemic.

3. Transmission prevention: As part of a World Health Organization’s effort to evaluate risk to health-care workers of providing certain support measures, such as high-flow oxygen use, Sunnybrook is building a simulation space for live virus experiments using mannequins with funds for SERV. This is important because protecting care providers is key to preventing the spread of the virus within hospitals.                         

About Sunnybrook

Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre is inventing the future of health care for the 1.3 million patients the hospital cares for each year through the dedication of its more than 10,000 staff and volunteers. An internationally recognized leader in research and education and a full affiliation with the University of Toronto distinguishes Sunnybrook as one of Canada’s premier academic health sciences centres. Sunnybrook specializes in caring for high-risk pregnancies, critically ill newborns and adults, offering specialized rehabilitation, and treating and preventing cancer, cardiovascular disease, neurological and psychiatric disorders, orthopaedic and arthritic conditions and traumatic injuries. The hospital also has a unique and national leading program for the care of Canada’s war veterans.

SOURCE Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre

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