Lille: A task force for the coordination and support of research projects on Covid-19 infection

In March 2020, the university-affiliated hospital of Lille (CHU), the Université de Lille, the CNRS, the Institut Pasteur de Lille, the French national research institute for digital science and technology (INRIA), the École Centrale de Lille and the Université Lille Nord-Europe project (labelled I-SITE) set up a task force originating from the French Committee for Biomedical and Public Health research (CRBSP) to manage and support research projects on COVID-19.

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In Lille, medical care and research united in the fight against COVID-19

This task force brings together researchers, decision-makers from Lille’s public research community, as well as clinicians and biologists, who are on the front line of infection control and patient care.

“The initiatives of the Lille research community to fight against COVID-19 are multiplying; there are not only therapeutic trials, clinical and fundamental research on the Coronavirus, but also support for research units in terms of human resources, equipment and reagents for viral care and diagnosis activities and for the management of research samples. This is highly positive. The coordination among these various participants makes it possible to provide new responses to patients’ needs every day,” David Launay, the CRBSP President and task force coordinator explained.

Deployment of technical, human, and financial resources

The task force’s missions are to:

  • Support the implementation of research projects and clinical trials,
  • Secure and share necessary funds,
  • Facilitate/pool the creation of biological cohorts and collections,
  • Coordinate the support of research units in terms of equipment and human resources,
  • Deliver information.
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Since the beginning of the epidemic, CHU research professionals have joined forces in an extensive effort to ensure support for “bedside research” by implementing more than 60 active projects in record time, 30 of which are promoted by the CHU,” Karine Faure, as head of the Infectious Diseases Department at the Lille CHU and Frédéric Gottrand, as vice-president of research for the Lille CHU’s executive board noted.

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Joining forces

This coordination process is conducted in conjunction with the Local Health Agency (ARS). For example, a survey intended for all research units has been built by the task force to estimate both human and technical capacities that can be mobilised by research units.

The challenge here is to extend COVID-19 biological diagnostic capabilities under the leadership of Pr. Thierry Brousseau, as head of the Biology/Genetic Pathology Unit of the CHU, which was tasked with coordinating the steps to organise and extend these biological diagnostic activities.

“It was natural for us to coordinate all institutions involved to support both fundamental and clinical research teams which, by necessity, develop specific health projects during a pandemic,” Régis Bordet, as Director-General of I-SITE ULNE, said.

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