Brown University School of Engineering

BrunO2 project, Tripathi Lab earn University COVID-19 Research Seed Fund awards

April 30, 2020

Four engineering professors on fast-track list of innovative projects to be funded by University.

Brown Engineering professors Dan Harris, Jacob Rosenstein, Anubhav Tripathi and Roberto Zenit, are among the 15 teams of Brown faculty researchers receiving funds from a newly created University seed fund. Brown established the fund to fast track innovative research proposals that directly address the urgent needs of the COVID-19 pandemic. A total of $350,000 was awarded to support research with the potential for significant and rapid impact on human health and research that could create products of immediate need for the healthcare system in Rhode Island and the nation.

“Helping to solve society’s most crucial problems is one of the University’s highest priorities,” said Provost Rick Locke in a statement to the university. “Faculty are central to this endeavor through their research, teaching, and service. With the world in crisis, we are inspired to see the Brown community coming together to be part of the leading edge of COVID-19 research.

“Brown also has a special responsibility to make valuable contributions to Rhode Island through our research and service, and advance innovation in our home community, and these funded projects will do that as well,” he said.

Harris, Rosenstein and Zenit are part of a team of Brown faculty and students who are working on BrunO2, a do-it-yourself ventilator design made freely available online that can be easily deployed in resource-strapped situations. Ventilators are among the most critical aspects of COVID-19 treatment, and this project is aimed at speeding their production through a new design using 3D printed and off-the-shelf parts that can be produced rapidly and locally.

Tripathi is teaming with Alpert Medical School professor and infectious disease expert Rami Kantor, M.D., to develop a molecular surveillance tool and capacity to monitor spread of the virus regionally and beyond. Its goal is understanding if, and how, genotypic variants of SARS-CoV-2 might impact patient outcome; the investigation of the viral mutability under treatment selection pressure; and transmission dynamics of the virus in Rhode Island and beyond, informing public health interventions.

For the full list of COVID-19 seed award recipients, please see the University announcement: http://brown.edu/go/COVID19seedawards