University of Glasgow to support COVID-19 response with new testing facility

The University of Glasgow will host a major COVID-19 testing facility in Glasgow, in support of current UK and Scottish governments and NHS efforts against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus pandemic. This is part of a series of measures to increase testing and response to the spread of the virus across the UK. It will be opened in collaboration with the Scottish government and industry experts from BioAscent Discovery and the University of Dundee’s Drug Discovery Unit.

The new testing centre will be able to provide capacity for substantially more SARS-CoV-2 tests per day, and will be located in the University’s Queen Elizabeth University Hospital campus. The site, currently the University of Glasgow’s Clinical Innovation Zone, is already designed to meet industrial-scale standards and will therefore be able to begin testing in mid-April.

The new testing facility will be staffed on a 24/7 basis by more than 500 volunteers, including highly-experienced molecular scientists, technicians and bioinformaticians – all with the relevant skills and experience to carry out SARS-CoV-2 testing. All have volunteered their services to assist the NHS at this critical time.

The Glasgow centre is one of a number of new hub laboratories to be opened in order to increase SARS-CoV-2 testing during the crisis. The centres will be coordinated by the Medicines Discovery Catapult, and the project supported by partners Thermo Fisher Scientific, BioAscent Discovery and the University of Dundee, Amazon, Boots and Royal Mail, alongside the Wellcome Trust.

Professor Dame Anna Dominiczak, University of Glasgow Vice Principal and Head of the College of Medical, Veterinary and Life Sciences, said: “The World Health Organization has been clear that testing is essential to push back the spread of this new coronavirus. I am pleased that the University of Glasgow can now offer the country this new, large-scale testing facility, in conjunction with our industry partners and the NHS.

“I am incredibly grateful to all colleagues who have volunteered their time, expertise and skills for this testing facility. As a result of their willingness to help, we have a team of highly skilled people, a clinical space and the core equipment to start work alongside our NHS colleagues immediately.”

The University of Glasgow is also providing supporting through its Centre for Virus Research (CVR), which recently was named one of 13 key centres in a pan-UK alliance of scientists, working on SARS-CoV-2 whole-genome sequencing. The centre will play a key role in the new £20 million COVID-19 Genomics UK Consortium, and work with partners to map how SARS-CoV-2 spreads and behaves in populations around the UK.

Scientists at the CVR are also involved in another newly announced £4.9 million pan-UK scientific project that seeks to increase our understanding of COVID-19 and its impact on the body.