Dear colleagues,

Early this month, we announced a VCU COVID-19 Rapid Research Funding Opportunity with support from the Office of the Vice President for Research and Innovation and the Wright Center for Clinical and Translational Research. Today, we are pleased to share news of the initial recipients to receive funding under this program.

Nearly 70 faculty members applied for the support, aimed at encouraging researchers across a broad range of subjects to quickly expand their work to address and diminish the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the health system and our community.

To date, we have selected 20 proposals, nearing $200,000 in funding. Considering the many outstanding proposals received, we decided to increase the overall funding to a total of $300,000. We thank the members of the VCU COVID-19 Rapid Research Funding team for their efforts in reviewing the applications, and congratulate the first 20 recipients of the VCU COVID-19 Rapid Research Funding:

Somaya Albhaisi, MBBCh, School of Medicine, “Virginia Commonwealth University Registry of SARS-CoV-2”

Adam Blandin, Ph.D., School of Business, “Real Time Labor Market Estimates During the 2020 Coronavirus Outbreak”

Gregory Buck, Ph.D., School of Medicine, “Epidemiology and Evolution of SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19 and the Human Microbiome”

Daniel Conway, Ph.D., College of Engineering, “Characterizing the Importance of Nuclear-cytoskeletal Transport in SARS-CoV-2 Viral Pathogenicity”

Dwayne Ray Cormier, Ph.D., School of Education, “Exploring PreK-12 Public School Systems' Pandemic Preparedness During COVID-19 School Closures”

Paul Dent, Ph.D., School of Medicine, “Developing Chaperone Inhibitors as Anti-viral Therapeutics”

Danielle Dick, Ph.D., College of Humanities and Sciences, “Acute Impact of the COVID-19 Pandemic on VCU Students”

Elsie Harper-Anderson, Ph.D., Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs, “An Analysis of the Economic Impact of COVID-19 and the C.A.R.E.S. Act on African-American Workers and Businesses in Virginia”

Kathryn Howell, Ph.D., Wilder School of Government and Public Affairs, “Data for Prevention of Eviction and Proactive Engagement with Tenants and Landlords”

Rebecca Martin, Ph.D., School of Medicine, “Extreme Droplet Digital PCR for Improved SARS-CoV-2 Virus Detection and Absolute Quantification”

Michael McVoy, Ph.D., School of Medicine, “Development of Broad Spectrum Antivirals Targeting Virus-GAG interactions”

Benjamin Nicholson, M.D., School of Medicine, “VCU COVID-19 Emergency Ventilator: An Automatic Bag Valve Ventilator with Optional Positive End Expiratory Pressure”

Michael Peters, Ph.D., College of Engineering, “In-Vitro Testing of a Small Helical Peptide Binder (ACE2 Decoy Peptide) to SARS-CoV-2 Spike Protein: A Fight Fire with Fire Approach”

I. Scott Ramsey, Ph.D., School of Medicine, “Rapid Identification of COVID-19 Antiviral Drugs Targeting a Novel Viral Ion Channel Protein”

Thomas Roper, Ph.D., College of Engineering, “Proposal for In-vitro Testing of VCU Proprietary Antivirals Against Coronaviruses”

Lawrence Schwartz, M.D., School of Medicine, “Human Mast Cell Tryptase Is a Therapeutic Target in COVID-19 Caused by SARS-CoV-2”

Nicholas Thomson, Ph.D., School of Medicine, “Responding to Intimate Partner Violence During the COVID-19 Outbreak”

Wei-Ning Wang, Ph.D., College of Engineering, “Development of an Antiviral Face Mask to Capture and Inactivate Novel Coronavirus”

Yaoying Xu, Ph.D., School of Education, “Examining the Impact of COVID-19 on International Students from China at VCU”

Guizhi Zhu, Ph.D., School of Pharmacy, “Self-applicable Microneedle Patches of COVID-19 mRNA Vaccine for Mass Vaccination”

Thank you to all who applied for the VCU COVID-19 Rapid Research Funding Opportunity. We appreciate the creativity, resourcefulness and desire to help in the fight against the pandemic demonstrated in the proposed projects and look forward to announcing additional recipients.


P. Srirama Rao, Ph.D.
Vice President for Research and Innovation

F. Gerard Moeller, M.D.
Director, C. Kenneth and Dianne Wright Center
for Clinical and Translational Research
Associate Vice President for Clinical Research