Trudeau Institute’s efforts to combat COVID-19 and tick-borne illnesses have received a $150,000 boost from the Cloudsplitter Foundation.
The gift from Cloudsplitter, which supports organizations dedicated to improving the environment, economies and lives of people in the Adirondacks, will support a new lab established by Trudeau in 2020.
Lee Keet, chairman of Cloudsplitter’s board of directors, joined the group’s director, Chenelle Palyswiat, to present the first, $50,000 installment of the grant at Trudeau on Friday, February 5.
“Given what we know about the virulence of COVID, this is an especially rewarding grant to make,” Keet said during the presentation.
Initially, the new lab was intended to combat Powassan virus, a potentially deadly disease spread by ticks. COVID-19, though, expanded the scope of the lab’s work. One group of researchers in the lab, led by Dr. Priya Luthra, is investigating how those viruses operate; another, led by Dr. Felix Sheinerman, will adapt and optimize existing drugs to treat the disease.
“Over the past 10 months, Trudeau’s research teams have jumped head-first into the fight against coronavirus,” said Atsuo Kuki, Trudeau’s president and director. “Cloudsplitter’s generous support validates our effort. At the same time, this grant means that when the threat from COVID subsides, we’ll be able to take a running start at Powassan—a menace that isn’t standing still, even as our attention is dominated by coronavirus.”
Cloudsplitter’s gift will enable Trudeau’s lab to add staff as well as acquire advanced equipment enabling research on viruses and experimental therapies.
“I’m applying the lessons I learned from my previous work with Ebola, Zika and influenza to develop new approaches to combat coronavirus,” said Dr. Luthra, who attended the presentation. “One of the reasons I joined Trudeau last year is because of our extensive history making inroads into persistent diseases. I’m thankful to the Cloudsplitter Foundation for recognizing both our track record and potential, and ensuring we have the resources to make a real difference in 2021 and beyond.”