COVID-19: Nathalie Grandvaux and Andrés Finzi Receive $1.8M from the CFI and the Government of Quebec


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Nathalie Grandvaux and Andrés Finzi see their projects funded through contributions from the Canadian Foundation for Innovation (CFI) and the Quebec government.

Under the CFI’s Exceptional Opportunities Fund, the Minister of Innovation, Science and Industry, Navdeep Bains, announced an investment of nearly 28 million dollars in research infrastructure.

For her project “Level-3 containment laboratory for the study and exploitation of the innate immune response in the fight against SARS-CoV-2”, Nathalie Grandvaux, a regular researcher with the Immunopathology Research Theme, received a grant totalling nearly $535,000. This financial support will allow her to purchase equipment for one of the cell culture rooms dedicated to the study of SARS-CoV-2, located in the CRCHUM’s level-3 containment laboratory (CL3), which meets the most stringent international standards. The purchase of a high-performance platform for analyzing antiviral and pro-inflammatory responses (Cytation 5, Biotek) will also help accelerate the identification of therapeutic targets that can be tested in preclinical studies.

With the arrival of this new equipment, the CL3 will increase Quebec’s research capacity in tackling the current and any future pandemic. It will also make it easier to train research professionals and students in handling and studying the virus and developing antivirals and vaccines.

Andrés Finzi’s project, “In-depth characterization of the SARS-CoV-2-specific B and T cell responses during and after COVID-19 disease”, earned him funding amounting to a little less than $1.3M. Embarking on this venture with him are co-investigators Nicolas Chomont and Dr. Daniel Kaufmann. Thanks to the grant, this Immunopathology Research Theme team will be able to invest in two pieces of state-of-the-art equipment: a bio-layer interferometer (Octet RED96 System, Sartorius) and a high-speed cell sorter (BD FACSAria Fusion).

These two cutting-edge technologies will allow the researchers to precisely define anti-SARS-CoV-2 antibodies’ recognition mode (bio-layer interferometer), to isolate, characterize and clone unique SARS-CoV-2-specific B cells (high-speed cell sorter), and define the molecular profile of SARS-CoV-2-specific T cells.

In both cases, the CRCHUM and the Faculty of Medicine also respectively injected $50,000.

In the official press release, Navdeep Bains commented, “Canadian researchers and scientists are helping to protect our health and safety and are key to finding our way out of the COVID-19 pandemic. With this funding through the Exceptional Opportunities Fund, the Government of Canada is ensuring these talented Canadians have the equipment and tools to support them in their very important work.”

Another CRCHUM researcher, Frédéric Leblond, benefited from a CFI grant of nearly $550,000 through his status as a professor at Polytechnique Montréal