Dear friends,

I wanted to thank everyone in the MCRI community for your thoughtful messages of support since my last email to you. Your kindness and consideration is a great source of encouragement to everyone at the Institute during these uncertain times.

Working together with the global medical research community is vital to overcome COVID-19 and minimise its impact. The Institute is very proud to be making an important contribution to that effort. Let me share with you an overview of our progress to date.

What is MCRI doing to tackle COVID-19?

We have assembled a multi-disciplinary team of researchers drawing together experts in clinical epidemiology, clinical trials, immunology, virology, social science and public health to tackle this crisis from all angles. In collaboration with key partners we are driving forward a comprehensive research program on the Melbourne Children's Campus, all working together to find out how COVID-19 affects children and those who care for them.

Our work has already begun

The first and most time critical of our research initiatives was announced last week. BRACE is a preventative vaccine trial to help boost the immune systems of our frontline health care workers, upon whom we are all so critically dependant at this time.

We were able to get this trial up and running within three weeks – a process that would usually take up to 12 months to complete – with study protocols and ethics approval all finalised in record time. The trial has been endorsed by the Director-General of the WHO, Tedros Adhanom, who has called for global support and assistance in the fight against COVID-19.

Thanks to generous philanthropic support from Sarah and Lachlan Murdoch, The Royal Children's Hospital Foundation and a group of committed donors, we commenced the clinical trial on Monday. Almost 600 of an eventual 4000 healthcare workers have been recruited into the trial.

Our hope is that by improving the immunity of our frontline healthcare workers we can help them overcome the virus more efficiently should they become infected and importantly provide critical time to develop and validate a specific anti-COVID-19 vaccine.

The Institute is seeking further funds to expand this trial and will keep you informed over the coming weeks.

Our other research

As I shared with you in my previous message, we are working hard to maintain our vital research programs. In recent years, we have invested in our infrastructure, technology and people, and are well placed to continue our important child health research programs during this difficult time. This is only possible thanks to our community of amazing supporters and donors, who have supported MCRI over many years. Thank you for your continued generosity and commitment to our research and staff during this time.

Keeping in touch

I look forward to sharing more details of the other COVID-19 projects under development with you in my next communication. Until that time, we have created a new dedicated webpage so that you can keep up to date with the latest news in our COVID-19 research initiatives.

I encourage you to reach out to our Engagement & Philanthropy team. They are ready to provide additional information about any of our COVID-19 or existing research initiatives you might be interested in, and available to talk with you over the phone. You can contact the team on (03) 9936 6362 or .

We look forward to hearing from you. In the meantime, please take care of yourself and your loved ones.

All best wishes,

Professor Kathryn North AC
Murdoch Children's Research Institute