School of Medicine launches new Long COVID seed grant award program


About 10 percent of post-COVID patients continue to experience COVID-related symptoms for weeks and months following a negative COVID test, a little-understood phenomenon known as "Long COVID," or Post-acute Sequelae of COVID (PASC). Long COVID symptoms include “brain fog,” long-term loss of smell, and cardiovascular and gastrointestinal issues. Research teams across UC Davis are conducting investigations of the clinical and pathophysiological aspects of Long COVID to increase understanding of its origins and impact.

On April 11, the School of Medicine announced the awardees of the school’s new Long COVID Seed Grant Program to help fund some of these investigations.

“Our new seed grant program is one of many ways the School of Medicine supports robust research to advance knowledge about the impact of SARS-CoV-2 and identify how we can better care for patients suffering from Long COVID,” said Susan Murin, interim dean of the School of Medicine.

Seed funding is internal funding for projects that show the potential to obtain external grants. The awardees of the seed grant program are working on promising and competitive Long COVID studies with high potential for future federal external funding.

The Long COVID seed grant awardees are:

  • Mark Avdalovic, professor and vice chair, Department of Internal Medicine, for his “Breath signatures to identify Long Covid” Avdalovic’s team is working to develop and validate a portable, rapid, accurate, and cost-effective breath diagnostic device for Long COVID.
  • Kim Barrett, vice dean for research at the School of Medicine and distinguished professor in the Department of Physiology and Membrane Biology, for The role of the microbiota-gut-brain axis in cognitive symptoms of Post-Acute COVID Syndrome This study investigates the possible association of Long COVID-related cognitive impairment with the microbiota-gut-brain axis.
  • Hiba Hamdan, assistant clinical professor, Department of Internal Medicine, Division of Nephrology, for the Kidney disease in the setting of Long COVID proposal. This study investigates the impact of COVID-19 on long-term kidney function.
  • C. Kent Lloyd, professor in the Department of Surgery and director of the UC Davis Mouse Biology Program, for the Establishing an in vivo model of PASC in a novel genetically-humanized polygenic mouse proposal. Lloyd’s team is working to determine if a specific genetically modified mouse is a suitable model to study Long COVID in humans.
  • Toby Steele, associate professor in the Department of Otolaryngology, for the proposal, “Olfactory Microbiome and Long-COVID Anosmia.” This study investigates the contribution of microbiota to long-term loss of sense of smell caused by COVID.

Award recipients will each receive $30,000 in total costs for a 12-month period beginning May 1, 2022, to support research-related expenses. The funded teams are expected to submit a progress report in the form of an initial application for submission to the National Institutes of Health or another federal funding agency by June 2023.