COVID-19 Basic, Translational and Clinical Research Funding Opportunity

Applications are no longer being accepted.

Researchers across UCI are searching for ways to contribute to the effort of slowing and stopping the spread of COVID-19 and minimize its negative impacts. In order to support these efforts, a UCI Joint Research Fund—supported by multiple schools and the UCI Office of Research—was created to fund meritorious proposals.

Awarded projects and their summaries are below:

Citing this Award?

Please include the following when citing support in publications:

“UCI COVID-19 Basic, Translational and Clinical Research Fund"


Serosurveillance of Blood Bank Donor Specimens for SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies during COVID-19 Outbreak using Coronavirus Antigen Microarray

  • Saahir Khan, MD, PhD
  • Phil Felgner, PhD

Development, Validation, and Deployment of a COVID-19 Vulnerability Scoring System (VSS) with an Explainable Artificial Intelligence Approach

  • Daniel Chow, MD
  • Alpesh N. Amin, MD, MBA
  • Bernadette Boden-Albala, PhD, MPH
  • Daniela Bota, MD, PhD
  • Peter D. Chang, MD
  • Jennifer E. Soun, MD
  • Edwin Monuki, MD, PhD
  • Jung In Park, RN, PhD
  • Leslie Thompson, PhD
  • Xiaohui Xie, PhD

* The second video "Identifying vulnerable populations" represents a new award that expands on the scope of the previous award described in the first video.

A Small Animal Model of COVID-19

  • Donald Forthal, MD
  • Alan Barbour, MD
  • Anthony Long, PhD
  • Ilhem Messaoudi, PhD
  • Michael Buchmeier, PhD

Identifying Alternative Filter Materials and Mask Designs for the Rapid Production of Crowdsourced Medical Masks

  • Jonathan Realmuto, PhD
  • James Smith, PhD
  • Michael Kleinman, PhD
  • Terence Sanger, MD, PhD

Antibody-Dependent Enhancement of SARS-CoV-2

  • Donald Forthal, MD
  • Saahir Khan, MD, PhD

Surveillance at the frontlines: Prevalence of undetected COVID-19 among healthcare providers at UCI Medical Center

  • Ilhem Messaoudi, PhD
  • Miriam Bender, PhD, RN
  • Sanghyuk Shin, PhD
  • Dominik Wodarz, PhD
  • Valdimir Minin, PhD

Aptamer-based detection and blocking of the SARS CoV-2 spike glycoprotein

  • Andrej Luptak, PhD
  • Bert Semler, PhD
  • Michael Buchmeier, PhD

Cell-free, Cellular COVID-19 Vaccine

  • Young Jik Kwon, PhD
  • Donald N. Forthal, MD

Project Summary

Cell-free, Cellular COVID-19 Vaccine

Vaccines have been one of the pivotal means to protect people from infectious diseases over centuries. Among many societal and medical factors, the lack of a COVID-19 vaccine undoubtedly contributes to the unprecedentedly fast and wide spread of COVID-19. While anti-SARS-CoV-2 drugs would help treat patients with severe symptoms, effective vaccines are desperately demanded to protect those with a high-risk factor and also prevent the transmission of the diseases, saving tremendous financial, medical, and societal resources. In the current race in developing COVID-19 vaccines, RNA/DNA encoding viral proteins, purified SARS-CoV-2 proteins, and harmless SARS-CoV-2 viruses are used, but these traditional approaches have demonstrated limited success in preventing certain viral infections. In contrast, this proposed research aims to employ novel cellular vesicles from optimally primed antigen presenting cells (APCs) and develop a highly potent and safe vaccine against COVID-19. The study is based on a hypothesis that APCs can be reprogrammed to express and present SARS-CoV-2 spike glycoproteins, and extracellular vesicles from the reprogrammed APCs are capable of activating both humoral and cellular immunity by directly stimulating T cells (cell-free, APC-like vaccine), while simultaneously deliver the antigens to APCs in the body (ghost virus-infected cells). The proposed research fosters an interdisciplinary collaboration between basic and clinical researchers and positively impacts on the development and validation of the innovative cell-free, cellular vaccine platform, a UCI-owned patented technology, against primarily COVID-19 and potentially many other infectious and noninfectious diseases.

An Unbiased Epitomic Approach to Discovering Novel Protective Antigens and Antibodies for Rapid Treatment of Novel Corona Virus COVID19

  • Charles Glabe, PhD
  • Donald Forthal, MD

Developing Therapeutic Aptamers to Treat COVID-19

  • John C. Chaput, PhD

Project Summary

Developing Therapeutic Aptamers to Treat COVID-19

Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences John Chaput received a COVID-19 Research award from UCI to develop therapeutic aptamers to treat COVID-19 patients. These reagents represent a new drug class that would prevent the virus from negatively interacting with lung cells.

A surveillance-based approach to estimating uncounted COVID-19 cases

  • Bernadette Boden-Albala, DrPH
  • Ilhem Messaoudi, PhD
  • Tim Bruckner, PhD 

Structure-based development of broadly-neutralizing anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies

  • Rongsheng Jin, PhD

Serologic Surveillance of Health Care Workers for SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies During COVID-19 Pandemic Using a Coronavirus Antigen Microarray

  • Saahir Khan, MD, PhD
  • Sebastian D. Schubl, MD, FACS
  • Philip L. Felgner, PhD

Comprehensive Specimen Database For The Study Of Covid-19 Pathology And Outcomes

  • Robert Edwards, MD, PhD
  • Daniela Bota, MD, PhD
  • Suzanne Sandmeyer, PhD
  • Dan M. Cooper, MD
  • Kai Zheng, PhD
  • Frank Zaldivar, PhD
  • Saahir Khan, MD, PhD
  • Ilhem Messaoudi-Powers, PhD

Virus BioResistor to Detect Anti-SARS-CoV-2 Antibodies for COVID-19 Disease Status Monitoring

  • Gregory Weiss, PhD
  • Reginald Penner, PhD
  • Philip Felgner, PhD

Detection of SARS-CoV-2 in human sewage as a marker of COVID-19 epidemic

  • Sunny Jiang, PhD

Low Cost Camera Based Microarray Imager

  • Philip Felgner, PhD
  • Rafael Ramiro de Assis, PhD
  • Per Niklas Hedde, PhD

Accelerating pipelines toward COVID-19 therapies and vaccines using high-throughput single-cell functional screening

  • Weian Zhao, PhD
  • Donald Forthal, MD
  • Philip Felgner, PhD

Coping with cascading threats: A prospective study of responses to the COVID-19 pandemic in a nationally representative sample of Americans

  • E. Alison Holman, PhD
  • Roxane Cohen Silver, PhD

Rapid on-demand evolution of binding proteins against coronavirus

  • Chang Liu, PhD

Targeting the coronavirus poly(A) tail as a therapy

  • Yongsheng Shi, PhD

Host determinants of disease severity in SARS-CoV-2-infected patients

  • Ilhem Messaoudi, PhD
  • Weining Shen, PhD
  • Don Forthal, MD
  • Michael Buchmeier, PhD

Preparing UCI to participate in studies involving recovered COVID-19 patients' blood products for clinical application and Research

  • Minh-Ha Tran, PhD
  • Don Forthal, PhD
  • Alpesh Amin, MD
  • Dan Cooper, MD
  • Daniela Bota, MD, PhD

Host determinants of disease severity in SARS-CoV-2 infected patients

  • Sanghyuk Shin, PhD
  • Ilhem Messaoudi, Ph.D
  • Bernadette Boden-Albala, PhD
  • Dominik Wodarz, PhD
  • Valdimir Minin, PhD

Longitudinal surveillance of health care works for correlation of SARS-CoV-2 antibody profiles with occupational risk and clinical immunity

  • Saahir Khan, MD, PhD
  • Sebasitan Schubl, MD
  • Phil Felgner, PhD
  • Huw Daview, PhD

ER utilization among undocumented immigrants during the COVID-19 pandemic

  • Annie Ro, PhD
  • Tim Allen Bruckner, PhD

Healing @ Home: A Geriatric ED Feasibility Study to Reduce Hospital Admissions During the COVID-19 Pandemic

  • Lisa Gibbs, MD
  • Sonia Sehgal, MD
  • Julie Rousseau, PhD, RN
  • Jennifer Roh, MD
  • Jung Ha Lee, PhD, RN

Development and validation of an improved mouse model for investigation of coronavirus infection and pathology

  • Grant MacGregor, PhD
  • Kim Green, PhD
  • Tom Lane, PhD
  • Eric Pearlman PhD

Covid 19 Unity Project: How social and economic disruption impacts trust, solidarity and risk reducing behaviors among vulnerable LatinX residents of Orange County, from before to during the pandemic - A community-engaged mixed-methods longitudinal cohort study

  • John Billimek, PhD
  • Vanessa Kauffman

Risk for COVID-19 Infection and Substance Use Patterns Among Substance-Using Homeless Adults

  • Adey Nyamathi, PhD
  • Sanghyuk Shin, PhD
  • Lillian Gelberg, MD
  • Alicia Chang, MD
  • Saahir Khan, MD
  • Ilhem Messaodi, PhD

UCI CHOC Health School Restart

  • Dan Cooper, MD
  • Erlinda Ulloa, MD
  • Diana Stephens, MBA

Orange County Health Equity COVID-19 Community-Academic Partnership: Informing a Contact Tracing Initiative

  • Alana LeBron, PhD
  • Sora Park Tanjasiri, DrPH, MPH
  • Salvador Zarate, PhD
  • Abigail Reyes

Predicting and Preventing Behaviors that Risk the Spread of the Novel Coronavirus/COVID-19

  • J. Zoe Klemfuss, PhD

Use of Self-Regulation Training with Heart Rate Variability Biofeedback via Telehealth in the Management of Stress in COVID-19 Frontilne Trainees

  • Darlene Lee, ND, MSW
  • Arvin Jenab, ND
  • Shaista Malik, MD, MPH, PhD