Ben-Gurion University of the Negev launches COVID-19 Taskforce


Ben-Gurion University of the Negev President Prof. Daniel Chamovitz announced the BGU COVID-19 Response Effort to harness the University’s vast brainpower, research skills and ingenuity to help cope with the coronavirus pandemic.

Prof. Daniel Chamovitz

“It is our moral obligation to contribute to coping with this pandemic,” Prof. Chamovitz said, urging BGU researchers to join the task force.

Prof. Chamovitz stated that the University would devote resources to bring the most promising projects to fruition.

“Since the outbreak of this coronavirus, it has become an international crisis that affects individuals, families, communities, and countries around the world,” Prof. Chamovitz says. “I am turning to you, our researchers, to make the coronavirus crisis and its repercussions your top priority, to be creative and practical in order to achieve significant contributions to the national and international challenges that stand before us.”

BGU Projects Underway

To date, more than 50 projects are underway. Among them are:

  • A 5-minute diagnostic test for people to take at home
  • Identifying antibodies that will inhibit viral infection
  • Self-sterilizing reusable facemasks
  • Support for the elderly and other vulnerable populations
  • Testing the occurrence of COVID-19 in wastewater
  • Development of a low cost emergency ventilator

Click here for a list and description of projects>>

A prototype of the self-sterilizing air filter mask designed by BGU’s Dr. Chris Arnusch

A New Reality on Campus

As everyday life around the world has been affected, the effects of coronavirus extend beyond the search for a vaccine. In addition to the University’s virologists, BGU scientists and students are addressing public health, public policy, engineering, information systems, economic, psychological, technological, tourism, and educational challenges.

Listen to an interview with Prof. Golan Shahar, a clinical health psychologist and the Zlotowski Chair in Neuropsychology at BGU, and an adjunct professor of child study and psychiatry at Yale University School of Medicine. He has been studying the Israeli public’s response.

Prof. Angel Porgador, deputy vice president for research and development and head of the BGU COVID-19 Response Effort; Dr. Roi Gazit, Shraga Segal Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Genetics; and Avishay Edri, a Ph.D. student in the Shraga Segal department who initiated the volunteer testing project

More than 100 BGU scientists and graduate students are volunteering to increase blood sample testing for COVID-19 at the Clinical Virology Lab at Soroka University Medical Center in Beer-Sheva.

Dr. Roi Gazit, a researcher in BGU’s Shraga Segal Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Genetics, says, “With many pairs of hands now available, we have quickly managed to reduce the backlog, easing the pressure on the lab team and, most importantly, quickly getting results to those who have been tested.”

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