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University of Calgary

Three University of Calgary research teams are adding their expertise to the global fight against COVID-19.

The teams come from three separate disciplines — medicine, public policy and social work — and have received more than $1.6 million in funding from the federal government to explore ways to mitigate the outbreak.

The medical team, led by Dr. Dylan Pillai, will work to develop fast, effective and portable testing that will help health-care workers diagnose patients affected by the virus both in and out of the hospital setting.

"We’re proposing an algorithm that can detect any epidemic virus in a patient sample, identify the DNA or RNA sequence of that virus and then develop a point of care tool that we can take to patients," Pillai told CTV News.

The plan will essentially bring the "laboratory to the patient," which is a change in the testing approach that could potentially help to stem the spread of the virus.

"We don’t want individuals who are infected coming into waiting rooms and hospitals and spreading the virus to other patients," said Pillai.

Dr. Myles Leslie and his team will examine effectiveness of response and preparedness policies and explore how they are being transmitted and implemented in frontline health-care settings.

“We’re the people studying where are the breaks, who is listening to who, where is the policy going, is it actually hitting the ground in acute care in the hospitals and in your family’s doctor’s office,” Leslie said.

The social work team, led by Dr. David Nicholas, will take a look at the impact the outbreak has on pediatric patients with pre-existing conditions and their families.