University of Dundee

School of Life Sciences Response to COVID-19

Our School is home to world-leading life science experts and many of them are now contributing towards the world effort to understand and combat the coronavirus pandemic.

None of this essential work could take place without our support staff who maintain the day-to-day activity in our research complex that is allowed to continue at this time.

You can support the research taking place into coronavirus at the University of Dundee by supporting the Coronavirus Research Fundraising Campaign. For more information click here.

  • Drug Discovery Unit Biology Lab

Research projects and activity

  • Reagents and Services Team 2021

    The MRC PPU’s collaboration with the MRC CVR in Glasgow to generate a SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus Toolkit has yielded its second important publication.

  • SARS-CoV-2 in human intestinal cells

    Scientists at the University of Dundee and the EMBL’s European Bioinformatics Institute (EMBL-EBI) have published online some of the largest and highest resolution images yet recorded of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the cause of the Covid-19 pandemic.

  • Michele Tinti

    Michele Tinti, a postdoctoral researcher in Mike Ferguson’s lab, has competed on the international stage to search for a stable mRNA sequence in order to create a stable COVID-19 vaccine. Michele teamed up with Gilles Vandewiele and Bram Steenwinckel, PhD students from Department of Information Technology (INTEC) of the University of Ghent, and achieved fourth place out of 1,636 teams.

  • Professor David Gray - credit: John Post

    The University of Dundee has helped establish Scotland’s central COVID-19 testing facility at the University of Glasgow in support of the national response to the coronavirus pandemic. Professor David Gray, Head of Biology in the Drug Discovery Unit in the School, played an integral role in the design and implementation of the Scottish testing centre and has also advised on operating procedures.

  • The University of Dundee is working with partners around the world as part of an expanding effort to rapidly repurpose existing drugs against Covid-19. Professor David Gray, Head of Biology at the Drug Discovery Unit, Professor Andrew Hopkins and the pharmaceutical company Exscientia, a spin-out from the University are part of the international collaboration established by Calibr at Scripps Research.

  • Professor Doreen Cantrell

    Professor Doreen Cantrell is the lead academic representing Dundee in the UK Coronavirus Immunology Consortium. Doreen and colleagues will be involved in studying the role the immune system plays in determining variation in susceptibility to primary infection and how this varies over time.

  • Researchers from the Medical Research Council Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit (MRC-PPU) are working in partnership with the Drug Discovery Unit (DDU) to study an enzyme found within the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which causes COVID-19 infection. This protein aids the spread of COVID-19 and the researchers hope to find ways of blocking its function.

  • Professor Geoff Barton

    Researchers from the Universities of Dundee and Oxford have made a discovery that helps explain why variations in the virus that causes Covid-19 spread so rapidly. The Dundee-Oxford team found that most, but not all, of the common mutations in Spike individually strengthened binding to ACE2, a protein found on the surface of our cells. This work is published in eLife.

  • coronavirus

    The University of Dundee’s contribution to a major Covid-testing facility has been recognised at the 6th Scottish Knowledge Exchange Awards. The COVID-19 Collaborative Response Award was made to the Lighthouse Laboratory in Glasgow, a project that has involved Prof David Gray from the School.

  • Royal Navy with van to collect robots from SLS

    At the end of March, the laboratory of Professor Angus Lamond in the School, handed over two highly specialised Thermo KingFisher Flex robots to the Royal Navy, for urgent transportation to the first consolidated national diagnostic centre in Milton Keynes.

  •  Conchita Fraguas Bringas. Photo Credit: Cindy Zetino

    A University of Dundee graduate has discovered key information that will help scientists better understand the virus responsible for the Covid-19 pandemic. Conchita Fraguas Bringas’ has had her research into SARS-CoV-2 published in the journal Access Microbiology, a rare achievement for an undergraduate. Remarkably, Conchita’s computer-based bioinformatics project was undertaken while under the strict Spanish lockdown and while she was completing the final exams of her Biological Sciences degree.

  • COVID-19 Protein Portal logo

    To facilitate vital research on SARS-CoV-2, Wellcome and UKRI have brought together a consortium of leading centres of protein engineering and production to launch the COVID-19 Protein Portal. The COVID-19 Protein Production Consortium (CPPC) includes several research centres from across the UK including the MRC Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit at the University of Dundee.

  • MRC PPU CVR coronavirus toolkit logo

    MRC PPU and MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research scientists have generated expression plasmids, proteins and antibodies against all 28 proteins encoded for by SARS-COV2 and 10 other Coronavirus proteins. They are available on their new website:

  • Seven new papers have been published this month in The Biochemical Journal, representing a major collaboration between multiple groups at the Francis Crick Institute in London, University College London and The University of Dundee.  Led by John Diffley at the Francis Crick Institute, with important contributions in Dundee from the groups of Yogesh Kulathu and Karim Labib in the MRC Protein Phosphorylation and Ubiquitylation Unit, together with Vicky Cowling in the division of Gene Regulation and Expression, the idea was to ‘repurpose’ existing drugs to combat the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19. 

  • Proteomics Facility

    Professors Doreen Cantrell and James Chalmers has been awarded funding from the Chief Scientist Office in Scotland from their Rapid Research in Covid-19 (RARC-19) funding call. The project will study host biomarkers of acute respiratory distress syndrome in COVID-19 infection. It will utilize our world leading centre for mass spectrometry proteomics.

  • Drug Discovery Unit Biology Lab

    The Universities of Dundee (via the Drug Discovery Unit in the School) and Edinburgh are playing key roles in a €77.7 million pan-European consortium seeking to accelerate the development of therapies for Covid-19 and future coronaviruses. CARE (Corona Accelerated R&D in Europe) is a 5-year project bringing together the expertise of 37 partners across the continent, as well as China and the US, to form a comprehensive drug discovery engine. The project is funded by the Innovative Medicines Initiative (IMI), a partnership between the European Union and the European pharmaceutical industry.

  • Working together, researchers at the MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research in partnership with the University of Dundee Drug Discovery Unit will use the funding from the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator to rapidly screen a large collection of existing approved medical treatments for other diseases to find any that would be effective against SARS-CoV-2, the virus which causes COVID-19. They will also conduct research into whether any combination of these molecules may have anti-SARS-CoV-2 potential when acting together against the virus.

  • Scientists at the Universities of Dundee and Glasgow are combining their expertise to aid the global battle against coronavirus. The collaboration brings together world-leading researchers at Medical Research Council-funded units at both institutions to generate biological tools to study the virus and identify ways of defeating it.

    Further background on the science behind this story and how sheep and bacteria are helping in this fight was provided by Dr Paul Davies in an article in the Conversation.

  • The University of Dundee has provided supplies of PPE equipment to Dundee City Council for use by front line public health, social and community care workers across the city.

    Facemasks, gloves and other equipment was gathered from across the University, including Life Sciences, to be used by council staff who are working in the community to deliver vital services through the coronavirus pandemic, providing care, support and comfort to vulnerable people across Dundee and Tayside.

  • Professor Paul Wyatt

    The Drug Discovery Unit (DDU) has received €5 million of funding to develop antiviral treatments for Covid-19 and future coronaviruses. This significant investment by the COVID-19 Therapeutics Accelerator, initiated by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Wellcome and Mastercard, will enable DDU scientists to begin work immediately. The project will focus on identifying safe, orally dosed candidate drugs with the potential to tackle acute infections and reduce transmission in the general population.