Rushika Perera, Sue VandeWoude land COVID-19 research awards from the Boettcher Foundation

headshots of Rushika Perera, Sue VandeWoude, CSU scientists

This story was adapted from a news release developed by the Boettcher Foundation

Two research teams from Colorado State University have received grants from the Boettcher Foundation to fight COVID-19 and potential future pandemics. The foundation revealed the names of six grantees awarded a total of just under $1 million in biomedical research funding on May 15.

More than 120 grant applications were submitted for the foundation’s COVID Biomedical Research Innovation Fund. The awards will average $165,000 per team.

The award recipients from CSU include:

  • Associate Professor Rushika Perera, who is leading a team that is testing hundreds of existing drugs, compounds and chemicals to see if they might provide options to fight the virus that causes COVID-19. Brian Geiss, associate professor in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology, and David Paterson, assistant vice president for research, translation and commercialization, are handling logistics for the project, fielding inquiries from companies and establishing contracts.
  • University Distinguished Professor Dr. Sue VandeWoude, who is launching a pilot study to develop a COVID-19 surveillance testing approach that can be modified for different types of workers. The overall aim is to minimize the local risk of continued intermittent outbreaks among vulnerable populations, while pursuing a return to normal workforce productivity and function. Dr. Nicole Ehrhart, director of the Columbine Health Systems Center for Healthy Aging at CSU, is a co-investigator on this project.

“As a group, the six projects are innovative in how they are researching multiple facets of COVID-19 and its impacts on Coloradans,” said Boettcher Foundation President & CEO Katie Kramer in a news release. “We are proud to support these efforts at a time when biomedical research is a public health priority for response, treatment, and future pandemic prevention.”

Rick Miranda, provost and executive vice president at CSU, said that Perera and VandeWoude exemplify how the university’s scientists have stepped up in recent months to help find solutions to this global pandemic we’re experiencing.

“I’m incredibly proud of the work that they’re doing, along with other investigators at CSU and recent alumnae on their teams,” he said.

Other proposals funded

Additional researchers in Colorado who submitted winning proposals include:

  • Dr. James Crapo, National Jewish Health and BioMimetix
  • Dr. Elena Hsieh, University of Colorado Anschutz Medical Campus and Children’s Hospital Colorado
  • Dr. Kara Mould, National Jewish Health
  • Theodore Randolph, University of Colorado Boulder and VitriVax

The Boettcher Foundation has supported biomedical research in Colorado since the 1940s. Since 2008, the investments have included more than $15 million in research grants through the Foundation’s Webb-Waring Biomedical Research Awards. The awards have supported 68 Boettcher Investigators to establish their bioscience and biomedical research, several at Colorado State, encouraging Colorado’s top scientific minds to remain in-state.

“Colorado has long been home to incredible innovation, so it’s no surprise that we’re seeing an effort like this to support research around our state that could help us address this pandemic,” said Gov. Jared Polis.