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UNSW researchers and project staff have been seconded to NSW Health to support the fight against COVID-19. 

In this first phase of the partnership, 13 experts from two of the University’s premier public health research centres – the Kirby Institute and the School of Public Health and Community Medicine – have joined public health teams in Homebush to increase the operational and research capacity of NSW Health.

Professor Rebecca Ivers, Head of the School of Public Health and Community Medicine, said that UNSW was eager to provide support to the NSW Government in whatever way possible.

“Our experts in public health surveillance, research design and administration will support the incredible teams already working on COVID-19 at NSW Health. They will largely be working on public health containment and contact tracing, and will bring a wealth of knowledge from UNSW’s experience and expertise in responding to infectious disease outbreaks,” said Professor Ivers. 

The Kirby Institute’s Director, Professor Anthony Kelleher, said that these types of partnerships are essential to Australia’s response to COVID-19.

“We must rapidly increase our understanding of COVID-19. Knowledge of this virus, how it moves through communities and what prevents its spread will the form the basis of the tools we use the combat it,” said Professor Kelleher.

“The Kirby Institute has a long history of research partnership with NSW Health. Our existing networks, relationships and surveillance systems will help support both the extraordinary day-to-day operations and essential new research on COVID-19.”  

Professor Vlado Perkovic, Dean of Medicine at UNSW, said the innovation and adaptiveness that drives research at the university set the faculty in a good position to respond.

“The reason UNSW Medicine exists is to address health challenges like COVID-19. The Kirby Institute laboratories have been upgraded to undertake essential research on COVID-19, clinical trial discussions are taking place across the faculty, and our clinical schools are organising to provide frontline medical support for COVID-19.

“These extraordinary times call for extraordinary responses. As our teams mobilise; this is the first of many UNSW Medicine initiatives and partnerships to support the fight against COVID-19.”