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Three new research projects receive funding from the Novo Nordisk Foundation’s emergency coronavirus programme

The Novo Nordisk Foundation announces three new grants for coronavirus-related projects in Denmark. The total funding for the new projects amounts to DKK 6.6 million.

The new projects will focus on:

  • developing a decision support tool for the Danish authorities in connection with the COVID-19 epidemic;
  • monitoring the spread of COVID-19 among vulnerable citizens, with a focus on individuals with mental illness, alcohol and drug abuse as well as homeless people; and
  • developing artificial intelligence (AI) for characterizing COVID-19 infections via X-ray images.

The Foundation initially allocated DKK 50 million for the emergency fund but has chosen to exceed the original budget. The final deadline for applications was Friday, 3 April at 2 pm. The last applications are currently being processed, and the last round of grants will be announced next week.

An overview of the Foundation’s coronavirus-related projects is available here.

Read more about the three most recent projects below.

Estimation, simulation and control for optimal containment of COVID-19, Technical University of Denmark and Aalborg University: DKK 4,969,057
The project will develop a decision support tool for the Danish authorities. The aim is to limit the spread of COVIC-19 so as to shorten the epidemic, but without straining the healthcare system beyond its critical capacity in terms of number of intensive care beds, ventilators, etc. This will be done through mathematical modelling, simulation, control and optimization in relation to various possible interventions and measures available to the authorities, such as restrictions on social gatherings, closure of institutions, isolation of potentially infected individuals and isolation of vulnerable citizens. The models will be calibrated on a continuous basis and will thus utilize information provided by data as soon as data from hospitals etc. become available. The developed tool will be enable the authorities to select the combination of interventions and their duration that will have the optimal effect for society. The tool also describes how to establish a gradual and controlled reopening of society. The project will be carried out in collaboration between the Technical University of Denmark and Aalborg University.

Monitoring of the spread of COVID-19 among vulnerable groups, focusing on individuals with mental illness, alcohol and drug abuse as well as homeless people, Psykiatrisk Center København: DKK 1,023,780
Individuals suffering from severe mental illness, alcohol and drug abuse as well as homeless people have a high risk of infection and face a severe course of illness, as they tend to have existing somatic diseases and it can be difficult for them to follow the official guidelines for protection against infection, hygiene and social distancing. Many of them tend to gather in large groups, e.g. in shelters, group homes, care homes and psychiatric wards, which may potentially become infection epicentres. The project will map and monitor the development of the spread of COVID-19 among homeless people and people with mental illness, alcohol and drug addiction. We will compare data from Statens Serum Institut (SSI), which provide information on the spread of infection, with register-based data on mental illness and accommodation in psychiatric group homes and shelters as a measure of homelessness.

Applied artificial intelligence on COVID-19 imaging for risk assessment, Department of Computer Science, University of Copenhagen: DKK 610,000
X-ray images can be used to show infection patterns in the lungs. This project will develop artificial intelligence (AI) to be able to characterize the type of infection that is shown on x-ray images, the degree of infection as well as the extent to which it resembles a typical COVID-19 infection. This will provide additional knowledge for the risk model that is being developed in the project ”Applied Artificial Intelligence for real-time risk assessment of patients with COVID-19” at Rigshospitalet, also with support of the Novo Nordisk Foundation. The hope is that such models can be used by frontline staff when dealing with new COVID-19 patients as well as by planners in the health service. The project team is centred around existing clinical and epidemiological research groups at Rigshospitalet and Bisbebjerg Hospital who have an interest in AI, with support from a team of AI experts from the Department of Computer Science at the University of Copenhagen.

Further information

Christian Mostrup, Senior Programme Lead, phone: +45 3067 4805, [email protected]