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August 10, 2020

Harrington Discovery Institute and Morgan Stanley GIFT Cures Announce Campaign to Fund Cures for COVID-19

By Chad Felton

As novel coronavirus cases continue to increase in the United States and throughout the world, the Harrington Discovery Institute at University Hospitals, in collaboration with Morgan Stanley Global Impact Funding Trust Cures, is raising funds for research to bring an end to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Officials confirm the money will support Harrington’s COVID-19 Rapid Response Initiative to provide critical funding to selected scientists developing novel antiviral therapies, next-generation vaccines and vaccine alternatives that fight COVID-19, and most importantly, avert future pandemics.

In response to an urgent call for proposals earlier this year, Harrington received hundreds of applications from physicians and scientists at 122 universities and health systems across the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom to yield one of the world’s largest portfolios of COVID-19-related drugs.

“The response to our call for proposals far exceeded our expectations,” said Harrington President Dr. Jonathan S. Stamler. “The quality of science and potential for clinical impact is truly remarkable.”

According to UH, the selected projects span four major areas of need in the fight against COVID-19, with the overarching goal of actively advancing treatments into clinical trials by the end of the year:

  • Novel therapies to prevent causes of coronavirus mortality
  • Broad-spectrum antiviral therapies
  • Next generation vaccines and vaccine alternatives to avert pandemics
  • Emergency countermeasures/preventative health care strategies for first responders and emergency medical personnel to be administered either once or short term

“We were only able to fund 12 award winners, but frankly there are probably 50 projects here that show promise to protect the nation and the world,” said Stamler, who also serves as professor of cardiovascular innovation and medicine at UH and Case Western Reserve University.

Funding a single Harrington-developed vaccine or antiviral drug requires upwards of $1 million in grant funding, Stamler added.

“If we are to develop breakthrough treatments for patients, we need to raise as much support as possible from our local Cleveland community and across the nation,” he said. “This is an opportunity to restore human health and the world’s economic well-being.”

As the virus knows no geographical boundaries, Harrington reports it is also activating an international network to help support novel therapies for viral mutations that threaten to prolong the pandemic.

Melanie Schnoll Begun, president of Morgan Stanley GIFT Cures, said through Harrington’s collaboration, philanthropists have a trusted opportunity to expand and accelerate critical treatments for COVID-19 while “strengthening the path to protect us from the next pandemic and other diseases of the greatest unmet needs.”

Alongside the swift pivot to support the COVID-19 Rapid Response Initiative, Morgan Stanley GIFT Cures remains committed to curating new opportunities to advance high-potential drug development across multiple disease areas, she added.

“As we think about the pandemic’s ripple effects into the health care system, our collaboration with more important than ever,” Begun said. “Delayed screenings and care may turn one public health crisis into many others. Morgan Stanley GIFT Cures’ parallel opportunity to accelerate cures for life-threatening non-COVID-19 diseases, such as cancer, neurodegeneration, rare diseases and diabetes, is a powerful complement for forward-thinking, strategic philanthropists.”

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