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NEWS20 May 2020NEWS

Latest News on MSCA projects researching COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2 and related topics


The MSCA funds numerous projects whose work builds better policies, resources and strategies in the fight against COVID-19 and infectious diseases


The current COVID-19 outbreak has not caught EU-funded research off guard. The Marie Skłodowska-Curie Actions of the European Commission are supporting outstanding researchers in finding solutions to challenges posed by the novel coronavirus disease COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.

This page will be regularly updated with MSCA projects, results and testimonials relevant to COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2 and related topics.


  • EPIORGABOLISM – Diabetic nephropathy modelling in hESC-derived 3D kidney organoids


EPIORGABOLISM is studying how SARS-Co-V2, the coronavirus responsible for the 2019 novel coronavirus disease (COVID-19), interacts with and infects kidney cells. Together with the lung, the kidney is one of the main organs affected by the COVID-19 disease. Dr Carmen Hurtado, researcher of EPIORGABOLISM, is currently generating human kidney organoids from human pluripotent stem cells.

The use of human organoids allows to test treatments against coronavirus in an agile way, dramatically reducing the time human drug trials take. Hurtado is part of international research team has identified a drug capable of blocking the effects of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The findings have been partially supported by EPIORGABOLISM and published in the journal ‘Cell’.

Find out more

Trial drug shows promise in fighting coronavirus

Watch the testimonial of Carmen Hurtado, researcher of the EPIORGABOLISM project

  • HONOURs – Host switching pathogens, infectious outbreaks and zoonosis; a Marie Sklodowska-Curie Training Network


HONOURs is teaching 15 talented young researchers, including coronavirologists, to become “preparedness-experts”. The project involves 11 laboratories, all at the forefront of novel virus investigations and characterizations. HONOUR reacted in January 2020, immediately after the emergence of COVID-19, by starting work on SARS-CoV-2. A synthetic biology virus culture system was developed to swiftly evaluate therapy options, next to rapid tests to determine virus shedding on location. The quality of protective immunity was evaluated, and a search started on the most suitable animal model to battle the virus and provide therapy options. HONOURs is devoting its expert knowledge to fight this coronavirus and provide therapy options.

Find out more

HONOURs: Virus Outbreak Preparedness and COVID-19

Visit the HONOURs website



  • COV RESTRIC – Unravelling species barriers of coronaviruses


COV RESTRIC targeted the precise mechanisms that allow coronaviruses to jump across species. Dr Stephanie Pfänder, researcher of COV RESTRIC, worked on various virological aspects of emerging viruses – with a focus on emerging coronaviruses. Her work has the potential to lead to novel strategies to protect cells against coronavirus infection. This is crucial to fight the COVID-19 pandemic – and to help insulate society against future coronavirus outbreaks.

Find out more

Read the testimonial of Stephanie Pfänder, researcher of the COV RESTRIC project

Host proteins involved in species barriers of viral infections



  • PANGAIA - Pan-genome Graph Algorithms and Data Integration


Researchers involved in PANGAIA are investigating how massive amounts of genome sequence data can be ordered and analysed for their use in biomedicine. Their work has important implications in areas such as bacteria and virus research, investigation of drug resistance mechanisms and vaccine development: big data technology can help to identify the characteristics of new strains of viruses such as SARS-CoV-2 and bacteria by comparing their genomes.

Find out more

Identifying large data sets to help coronavirus research

Identifying pathogenic genes in virus strains at a glance

  • MIDIDP - Modelling Infectious Diseases in Dynamic, relocated, refugee populations


In order to assist policy-makers in mitigating outbreaks, MIDIDP has created realistic models to simulate the spread of infectious diseases in under-vaccinated refugee populations in Europe and neighbouring countries. Dr Hasan Güçlü, researcher of MIDIDP, has created a model that simulates the spread of COVID-19 in populations with variable demographics.

Find out more

Read the testimonial of Hasan Güçlü, researcher of the MIDIDP project




  • DIS2 - Disability and Disease during the 1918 Influenza Pandemic: Implications for Preparedness Policies


As the current COVID-19 pandemic shows, people with disabilities are at increased risk for complications and death as they are often neglected in epidemic responses. Dr Jessica Dimka, researcher of DIS2, is exploring disability as a risk factor in pandemics. Using the 1918 Spanish influenza pandemic as a model, the project seeks to promote more equitable public health plans and interventions. Dimka points out that people with disabilities must be considered in all pandemic strategies: their lives, livelihoods and rights are not expendable.

Find out more

Read the testimonial of Jessica Dimka, researcher of the DIS2 project

Read Dr Jessica Dimka's blog




  • THEMIS - Protecting Human Rights and Public Health in Global Pandemics


THEMIS is an interdisciplinary research project that reacts to the increasing occurrence of global pandemics, like the caused by the present COVID-19 disease, and restrictive public health measures taken to respond to these threats. Using a rights-based approach, Dr Patrycja Dąbrowska-Kłosińska, researcher of THEMIS, intends to create a better understanding of how to prepare for, and respond to, global pandemics.

The project seeks to offer a vital reference for policy-making at national, regional and global levels – one that prioritises fair pandemic preparedness to cross-border health threats. The project has offered critical guidance during the current COVID-19 pandemic, which has required a previously unimagined scale of coordinated, public health-control measures as well as consideration of human-rights implications worldwide.

Find out more

Read the testimonial of Patrycja Dąbrowska-Kłosińska, researcher of the THEMIS project

  • MFP - Martí I Franquès COFUND


Since the emergence of COVID-19, several fellows involved in the Martí i Franquès COFUND project have been working on solutions to the current crisis. Researchers are developing an epidemiological mathematical model that infers the status of the epidemic, thereby monitoring and estimating the impact of interventions on the spread of COVID-19.

In parallel, another group of researchers is implementing an original virtual screening protocol to reposition approved drugs. This would allow predicting which of them could inhibit the main protease of the virus (M-pro), a key target for antiviral drugs given its essential role in the virus replication.

Find out more

Read the testimonial of Benjamin Steinegger, whose research is developing a mathematical framework to monitor and estimate the impact of interventions on the COVID-19 pandemic

Project outcomes

Modelling the impact of interventions on the spread of COVID-19

Prediction of novel inhibitors of the main protease of SARS-CoV-2

  • EPFLinnovators - The launch of a new industrial PhD programme at EPFL


Several fellows involved in the EPFLinnovators project are working on solutions to COVID-19 since the start of the crisis. Teams of researchers are developing subunit vaccines against the SARS-CoV-2 virus, investigating the potential use of cyclodextrin derivatives to prevent and treat the infections caused by SARS-CoV-2, and analysing the mechanical aspects of SARS-CoV-2 entry into cells.

Project outcomes

Subunit vaccines against SARS-CoV-2

Non-toxic cyclodextrin derivative against viruses at micromolar concentration

Variations in clathrin mediated endocytosis on a mammalian cell membrane

Related information

Projects working on COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2 and related topics

The European Research Area (ERA) corona platform has published a list of MSCA and other Horizon 2020 projects linked to COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2 and related topics.

Results relevant to COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2 and related topics

The Horizon Results Platform has set up a dedicated page with results developed by MSCA and other Horizon 2020 projects relevant to COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2 and related topics.

Further reading on COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2 and related topics

The CORDIS portal has set up a dedicated page with CORDIS articles about COVID-19, SARS-CoV-2 and related topics, including several articles featuring MSCA projects and fellows.


The MSCA on social media

The MSCA social media are continuously updated with testimonials of MSCA fellows, supervisors, coordinators and projects working to find solutions to challenges posed by COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.

The MSCA can found on social media at:


MSCA Funding