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Thomas Ashton Institute

Thomas Ashton Covid-19 Response Group

8 July 2020

The TAI is well placed to contribute to the research effort in response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Institute was formed to advance knowledge and ensure research is applied directly to the work place ensuring it is safer, healthier and more resilient.

This is now more important than ever as the world contends with the challenge of coronavirus (COVID-19).  The outbreak has required our people to act decisively and our work moved off campus.  This was vital to protect the safety, health and wellbeing of our staff and visitors.

Through the past few weeks - the pioneering spirit of Manchester – the courage and capability to do things differently - has been evident in the response of our people. 

The University of Manchester has a rich history of breakthrough research and of social responsibility, where people help to tackle global challenges. This is an unprecedented time but our academics have rapidly come together to apply their knowledge to investigate COVID-19, with work underway on all aspects of the disease, such as diagnosis and treatments, mathematical modelling and the effects on individuals and communities.

Covid cells on a blue background with hands providing a shield over 3 human figures

The virus has not hampered our ability drive to forward the work of the Institute and we have been able to continue to explore new research opportunities and form relationships within academia and beyond.  Our breadth and unique perspective, allows us to quickly field unique teaching and learning packages to ensure new cohorts of students have the information and training needed to understand risk in the post-COVID workplace.

The Institute's achievements during lock-down include:

  • Successfully implementing safe remote working.
  • Continued delivery of our monthly Operational Management Team meetings, theme lead meetings and virtual workshops.
  • The submission of 2 tenders to the HSE; DSP Phase 2 and the Health Science Framework Agreement.
  • The submission of proposals including Healthy ageing catalyst, COVID-19 Gig workers and a NERC CDT led by MERI.   
  • Continued engagement and proposal development with HSE and key stakeholders including; creating a PhD proposal around Floating Offshore Platforms, contributing to a shared research programme and preparing a 'digital technologies' bid.
  • Creation of a COVID-19 Institute response group, drawing member form across the Campus.

In direct response to the crisis, the Institute has formed a rapid response group in order to coordinate our research activity in this area.  Members of the group are drawn from across the University and HSE and meet regularly to assess the changing research landscape.

Areas for proposed future research include:

Risk – including understanding, managing, communicating to public and workforce.

  • Exposure – including pathway, interventions, PPE effectiveness, surveillance, public health.
  • Return to work – including use of technologies, job disruption, impact on health/well-being, transport and infrastructure.

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