Scientists in a lab wearing protective clothing


Our scientists are at the heart of Scotland’s and the UK’s response to the global coronavirus pandemic.

"Collaborations are critically important to ensuring an effective response to outbreaks like this.

The largest group of virologists in the UK is based at our MRC-University of Glasgow Centre for Virus Research (CVR), and they are working on a range of research areas related to COVID-19, including treatment, virus behaviour, health complications and the wider effects of the pandemic on society. 

Partnership is core to our approach and our scientists are collaborating with colleagues across the UK, including working closely with Public Health England to understand linkages across the UK in an effort to shut down ongoing transmission.  

Professor Massimo Palmarini is Director of the CVR: “We have the facilities to handle samples from infected patients, we are well placed to conduct pivotal research into emerging diseases such as COVID-19,” he says. “In the coming weeks and months, our scientists will continue to work in collaboration with NHS Scotland, sequencing the virus, as well as conducting further research into SARS-CoV-2, its mechanisms of action and potential therapies.” 

Sequencing the virus

The rapid sequencing of COVID-19 samples is essential to further research into the virus and will eventually help to create vaccines against the disease. Our team of scientists at the CVR will continue to sequence virus samples for as long as the outbreak lasts, and make the genomic information publicly available immediately thereafter, to enhance efforts worldwide to tackle the disease. 

Dr Ana Filipe, Head of the CVR’s Viral Genomics facility, who led the efforts to rapidly sequence this virus said: “The rapid turnaround of the sample and interpretation of the data was only possible due to excellent coordination between clinicians, diagnostic labs, and research partners. These collaborations are critically important to ensuring an effective response to outbreaks like this.  

Major boost for COVID-19 testing 

We’re also hosting a major COVID-19 testing centre at our Clinical Innovation Zone, located at the Queen Elizabeth University Hospital campus in Glasgow 

"It is vital that we can marshal all of Scotland’s resources in a great, national effort.

Staffed by more than 500 skilled volunteers, it will substantially increase testing capacity for the virus and support national and international efforts to tackle the pandemic. It has been established in collaboration with the Scottish and UK governments, along with the NHS and industry partners and will be the biggest network of diagnostic testing facilities in British history, alongside other Lighthouse Lab sites. 

Professor Sir Anton Muscatelli said: “I am indebted to the many people from across our University community who have worked so hard to establish this Centre, but whose hard work is of course only just beginning.  

“As we seek to get through this crisis, it is vital that we can marshal all of Scotland’s resources in a great, national effort – and the University of Glasgow will continue to do everything we can to help in the fight against this virus.”