Dr. Trevor Dummer collaborates on national COVID-19 project

Dr. Trevor Dummer, an Associate Professor at SPPH and National Scientific Co-Director of CanPath (the Canadian Partnership for Tomorrow’s Health), is one of the co-Principal Investigators leading a team of CanPath researchers who have been awarded a $2.1 million grant from the Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR). Their project, SUrveying Prospective Population cOhorts for COVID-19 pRevalence and ouTcomes in Canada (SUPPORT-Canada), will use CanPath data and biological samples in order to identify the factors that contribute to COVID-19 susceptibility, severity and outcomes in the Canadian context.

Since the emergence of COVID-19 earlier this year, clinicians and researchers have raced to better understand the novel disease. For the past several months, however, the focus has been on controlling the spread and identifying putative treatments, leaving limited capacity to provide an accurate estimate of infections in the population. SUPPORT-Canada will help address this missing – but important – data through serological surveillance, which will allow for improved estimates of prevalence and a better understanding of the disease’s evolution over time.

In addition, much remains unknown about the underlying health conditions, behavioural and environmental factors that lead to a wide range of disease course. Dr. Dummer leads the component of the study assessing the role that genetics, co-morbidities and the built environment play in shaping COVID-19 severity, susceptibility and immunological response. Dr. Dummer adds, “by identifying the underlying genetic, environmental, and physiological factors that place an individual at increased risk, SUPPORT-Canada will help inform prevention and treatment strategies, and improve the targeting of resources for future research into the virus.”

The CIHR grant will be awarded through the Ontario Institute for Cancer Research, which is a partner with the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health in supporting CanPath. SUPPORT-Canada will be built out from CanPath, Canada’s largest population cohort, in partnership with the Toronto-based University Health Network (UHN), along with support from numerous research platforms, industry collaborators and service providers. Read more about the initiative on CanPath’s website, or through CIHR.