Professor Dame Jessica Corner

April 3, 2020, by Rob Ounsworth

COVID-19: thank you for your resilience, dedication and compassion

An update from Professor Dame Jessica Corner

I would like to once again update our research community on our continued response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) crisis and share with you the latest updates of how our commitment to each other and society is truly making a difference.

Many of us feel disorientated in these extraordinary circumstances but I am grateful and proud that your resilience ensures our mission is unwavering: to deliver research and share expertise that has the power to change lives.

Your wellbeing

I appreciate that many of you are juggling many priorities at this time. Family and caring commitments must come first and your health and wellbeing remains the University’s absolute priority. Our staff wellbeing guide has useful resources and advice that I would encourage you to explore.

It is gratifying that colleagues are coming together in many creative and supportive ways, whether through virtual lunchtime book clubs, or after-work drinks (thank you Microsoft Teams!)

The Biodiscovery Institute is inviting everyone at the University to welcome the first shoots of spring by growing sunflowers on their windowsills or gardens, and sharing these rays of sunshine via social media with #WeAreUoN, #RayOfSunflower and #MillionSunflowers.

These unprecedented times also  offer an opportunity to reflect and develop skills. The Graduate School, for example, is ensuring online training and support is available to researchers during the campus shutdown.

Our commitment to our community and the UK

We can all take pride in the continuing response of many hundreds of our students and colleagues to the COVID-19 crisis.

The University is drawing up guidance for those who are keen to support communities who need help the most. Whether offering skills to the NHS frontline, through acts of compassion and neighbourliness, or by working with partners across our communities.

This includes the hundreds of MedSoc members who are joining colleagues in the NHS, or the host of postgraduate researchers (PGRs) keen to lend their skills, whether by helping in labs and hospitals or across local support organisations.

While this response is truly amazing, we have a responsibility to ensure staff and students are protected, as well as trying to ensure that our partners can get the support they need.

Before considering a secondment or volunteering, please read this update.

Please also see the Graduate School’s message to PGRs as it prepares further guidance, PGRs are asked to contact the for support and advice.

Vital equipment, expertise and #unisupport

Universities in Nottingham are also coming together to help protect scientists testing for the virus.

We are providing Category 2 Cell Culture Cabinets, which are highly controlled environments that protect skilled scientists whose work is critical in turning the tide against the coronavirus.

The 28 cabinets were collected from the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University by British Armed Forces in five 7.5 tonne trucks, which indicates the scale of the operation and is also testament to how Universities for Nottingham are working together for the greater good.

The Midlands Innovation universities (Aston, Birmingham, Cranfield, Keele, Leicester, Loughborough, Nottingham and Warwick) meanwhile came together to increase the impact of our collective efforts in response to the crisis.

For more on our response and how the higher education sector is working together to fight COVID-19, look out for #WeAreUoN and #unisupport on Twitter, making sure to follow @UoNResearch.

COVID-19 and research

We are undertaking vital research into the virus, offering expert advice to government and local healthcare partners and helping develop personal protective equipment.

The way this challenge is bringing researchers together from across disciplines is inspiring, such the immunologists, virologists and health professionals who are developing novel testing systems for COVID-19 antibody detection, which will help us better understand the pandemic and also help people back to work.

The Mathematical Medicine and Biology Research Group is contributing to UK efforts in understanding the development and modelling of the pandemic, while the Faculty of Engineering is involved in the 3-D printing of components for ventilators and developing novel equipment to help support care.

The newly launched Nottingham Covid Research Group is investigating lung disease and the effect of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Digital research

Free and immediate access to cloud high performance computing resources are available to researchers who are working to mitigate the impact of COVID-19. For more information on this global resource, which aims to enhance international collaboration and speed up development of test kits and vaccines, visit techagainstcovid.

We are also monitoring usage of our High-Performance Computer to assess if prioritised access would benefit COVID-19-related research.

For more information please contact the your digital research team

Funding and research operations

Our research funders have been looking at upcoming funding calls, and some deadlines have been extended.

Please refer to Research and Innovation’s COVID-19 pages and funder websites, especially if submitting a funding application over the next few weeks.

Over the coming months there will also be opportunities to apply for individual fellowships, including Wellcome Trust, BBSRC David Phillips and Discovery Fellowships, Marie Sklodowski-Curie Individual Fellowships and European Advanced grants.

The EPSRC New Horizons call will provide the opportunity to develop new transformative research ideas, and Newton, GCRF and Royal Society funds are available to work internationally.

Details are available on the Research Development and Funding SharePoint, or directly from funders.

COVID-19 SharePoint

Visit the Research and Innovation COVID-19 SharePoint site for the latest information and updates on research activity. In the past few days, we’ve added an FAQ page and provided updates from funders including NIHR, Department for International Development and the Royal College of Physicians.

Research Excellence Framework (REF)

Submission to REF has been postponed by Research England until further notice, however the census dates are unchanged.Colleagues involved in REF preparations have shown agility in modifying their plans of work. Tasks for environment statements have been rescheduled and our REF team continue to refine planning, including delaying some aspects of work on outputs and focusing on finalising evidence of impact.

Stay in touch

Please contact to share initiatives that can better support us as individuals or bring our universitycommunity closer together.

You may also find these web pages useful:

Daily updates, helplines and advice from the University on COVID-19
Research and Innovation’s COVID-19 resources for researchers
#WeAreUoN and our response to the crisis

My thanks once again for your extraordinary dedication and my very best wishes to you and your loved ones.

Jessica Corner's signature

Professor Dame Jessica Corner
Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange



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