17 researchers win COVID-19 seed grants


UC Davis researchers have a role in nine of the 25 COVID-19-related projects that recently received seed grants averaging about $50,000 from CITRIS and the Banatao Institute, a systemwide UC initiative headquartered at Berkeley.

The AmbuBox, seen as a prototype here, is under development in a UC Davis research project.
The AmbuBox, seen as a prototype here, is under development in a UC Davis research project.

Here are the projects with UC Davis researchers, 17 in all, listed with colleagues from other campuses:

  • “A Multicampus Infrastructure to Advance Telehealth Implementation for Low-Income Californians in Response to COVID-19” — Lorena Garcia, UC Davis Department of Public Health Sciences; Denise Payan, UC Merced; and Hector Rodriguez, UC Berkeley. Their project will create a data infrastructure enabling researchers to study how replacing face-to-face visits with telemedicine services affects clinical outcomes for low-income patients.
  • “Augmented Reality Video-Assisted Clinical Care for Remote Management of COVID-19” — Ian Julie, UC Davis Department of Emergency Medicine, and Narges Norouzi, UC Santa Cruz, aim to extract clinically useful information from a live video stream, augmented with patient information such as blood oxygen saturation level, respiratory rate and heart rate in real-time. The goal is a tool to enable clinicians to rapidly evaluate COVID-19 patients, including remotely. 
  • “Discovery of Symptom Phenotypes and Trajectories for COVID-19 Adaptive Interventions”  An all-UC Davis team — Jill Joseph and Katherine Kim, Betty Irene Moore School of Nursing; Xin Liu, Department of Computer Science; and Joanne Natale, Department of Pediatrics — will create an innovative science platform to collect comprehensive data on patient symptoms and test results and apply machine learning methods to predict infection and illness. This will help make better use of public health resources.
  • “Estimating the Local Spread of COVID-19 around Long-Term Care Facilities in California using Social Interaction Networks with Spatial Information” — Martin Cadeiras and Diego Pinheiro, both of the UC Davis Department of Internal Medicine; and Miriam Nuño, UC Davis Department of Public Health Sciences. This project will develop new models to predict how outbreaks of COVID-19 in long-term care facilities can affect the local community, based on social interaction networks and human mobility data.
  • “AmbuBox: Fast-Deployable Low-Cost Ventilator for COVID-19 Emergent Care” — Andrew Li, UC Davis Department of Surgery, and Tingrui Pan, UC Davis Department of Biomedical Engineering. Their objective is to develop a low-cost clinically viable ventilator. The AmbuBox is based on standard manual resuscitators that are readily available (AmbuBag), and the overall cost of parts to assemble the AmbuBox would be less than $100. Read more and watch a video about the AmbuBox prototype.
  • “Ionizing Air to Trap COVID-19 Virus to Prevent Airborne Transmission” —  Saif Islam, UC Davis Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering, has a goal of developing an air ionizer and purifier that can trap viruses and prevent their spread in hospitals, offices and manufacturing plants. The device will be based on semiconductor nanostructures and will avoid generating harmful ozone gas.
  • “At-Home Personalized Monitoring of Exhaled Breath Inflammatory Biomarkers for Known or Suspected COVID-19 Patients” — Cristina Davis, UC Davis Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering; and Nicholas Kenyon and Michael Schivo, UC Davis Department of Internal Medicine. This team has developed a rapid, noninvasive diagnostic platform for monitoring lung infections from exhaled breath. The test can be self-administered by patients. The goal is to allow clinicians to monitor COVID-19 patients while they are recovering at home.
  • “Integrated Quantitative Microbial Risk Assessment and Geospatial Analysis of SARS-CoV-2 in Wastewater for Vulnerable Populations” — Maureen Kinyua, UC Davis Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; and Colleen Naughton, UC Merced. This project will use information technology to quantify the associated risk of SARS-CoV-2 infection for wastewater treatment operators and neighboring communities, developing a vulnerability map of 38 wastewater treatment plants in the Bay Area.
  • “Vine Robot for Automated Nasopharyngeal Swabbing” Gabriel Elkaim, UC Santa Cruz and Lin Zhang, UC Davis Health. Nasopharyngeal swabbing (NPS) is currently the preferred choice for sampling recommended by the CDC. Patients report discomfort from the NPS test, and the test potentially exposes healthcare workers to viral infection. This proposal will develop a flocked polyester nasopharyngeal swab that is both narrower in diameter and more flexible, to reduce patient discomfort and will automate the process using a “vine” robot to protect healthcare workers.

See all of the projects that won COVID-19 seed grants from CITRIS and the Banatao Institute.