17 July 2020

The first round of projects to receive funding under the NSW Government’s $25m COVID-19 Research Grants program has been announced.

Seven projects worth $3.3m have been funded through the program, which was announced in March as part of the state’s response to the virus.

NSW Health Acting Deputy Secretary, Population and Public Health, Sarah Thackway, said the grants were divided into diagnostics, prevention, and public and population health.

“This funding is for research and clinical trials to tackle COVID-19, but also to support initiatives that focus on targeted research to assist with the response to the pandemic, including its impacts on the healthcare workforce, vulnerable populations, and regional, rural and remote communities,” Ms Thackway said.

“The challenge we are facing is enormous, and tackling it requires a significant and coordinated effort.

“It’s wonderful to see some of NSW’s leading infectious disease researchers come together and rise to the challenge to minimise COVID’s impact.

“The funding boost will also support our university and research industries as we continue to battle the disease.”

Funded projects include using genome sequencing to help track the source of COVID cases in the community, developing new tests for immunity markers in the blood of people who have recovered, using viral proteins to test for the virus, looking at the pandemic response in Aboriginal communities, and adding COVID data to the 45 and Up health study, which has been collecting information since 2006

NSW Chief Health Officer, Dr Kerry Chant, said even months into the pandemic, there were still many unknowns about the virus, and ongoing research was key.

“The world’s population has no pre-existing immunity to COVID-19 and whilst there are significant global collaborative efforts underway to develop an effective vaccine, this could still be some time away,” Dr Chant said.

“This research will help to better understand and minimise the health, social and economic impacts of COVID-19 in NSW.”


  • Prof Vitali Sintchenko, University of Sydney - Enhanced genomic tracking of COVID-19 importations and transmissions in NSW
  • Prof William Rawlinson, NSW Health Pathology – Improved Confirmatory Diagnosis of SARS-CoV-2 infection using Protein Mass Spectrometry
  • Dr Linda Hueston, NSW Health Pathology – Development, Evaluation and Validation of ELISA Assays for both the Diagnosis of CoVID-19 and Utility in Seroprevalence in Communities


  • Assoc Prof Joanne Bryant, Uni NSW – A rapid qualitative assessment of COVID-19 health needs in an urban Aboriginal community

Public and population health

  • Professor Kathleen Clapham, University of Wollongong – A place-based pandemic response to the strengths and vulnerabilities of Aboriginal communities in south-eastern New South Wales.
  • Prof Kim Usher, University of New England – Impact of COVID-19 on Indigenous Australians’ preventive health behaviours: A mixed methods study
  • Dr Martin McNamara, Sax Institute – 45 and Up: COVID Insights