Science Minister Andrés Couve and the national director of the National Research and Development Agency (Agencia Nacional de Investigación y Desarrollo, ANID), Aisén Etcheverry have announced the 63 projects that will be financed by the COVID-19 Scientific Research Fund. They made the announcement from the Las Camelias Patio at La Moneda Palace.
This unprecedented competition will provide funding of up to 90 million Chilean pesos (US$111,000) to research projects for a year so they can generate solutions and new knowledge about the pandemic and its consequences.
Minister Couve highlighted that “this call is an unparalleled example of the interest in and rapid response from the research community and the National Research and Development Agency to this pandemic. We congratulate the 63 selected projects, which reveal the diversity and great capacity there is in Chile for generating knowledge, which right now is geared to responding to a wide variety of questions that have emerged as a consequence of the pandemic. Each project contributes towards understanding from different disciplinary perspectives and strengthens the role of research in Chile's development.”
“Science has to take a long-term view but must also play an active role in the current situation. This has been successfully put to the test during this health crisis, and we have succeeded in raising funding within a record period of time to support the work being carried out today by the scientific community,” added ANID national director Aisén Etcheverry. She emphasized that 1,056 applications were received in just 23 days, a significant number considering the extraordinary situation in Chile.
Forty-six per cent of the projects selected are linked to medicine and health sciences, areas of knowledge that have been key to finding out more about the virus and how it affects people. Some of them address topics like immunity, treatment and epidemiological studies.
Meanwhile, 32% of the projects are from different fields of social science and are designed to look at topics like the impact of the Coronavirus on educational processes, communication and teleworking during lockdown.
Among the projects from other disciplines are some related to engineering and technology on topics like predictive modeling or artificial intelligence; natural sciences for developing genome studies; and humanities related to teaching topics; as well as agricultural science.
At institutional level, 17 of the proposals selected are from Universidad de Chile, 9 from the Pontificia Universidad Católica de Chile, 6 from Universidad de Concepción, 5 from Universidad de la Frontera, along with 18 other institutions from different parts of Chile.
In terms of geographical distribution, in addition to the high participation from the Metropolitan Region, 8 projects are from the Biobío Region, 5 from the Araucanía Region and 4 from the Valparaíso Region.
In the context of the Science Ministry and ANID’s agenda on gender, which seeks to bring greater balance to the scientific system, the officials highlighted the fact that 44% of the projects selected for COVID-19 scientific research funding are led by women and over 50% of all the research teams include women researchers. “The most diverse teams do better science and as a system we need to seek the best results, both in excellence and equity,” added ANID director Aisén Etcheverry.
Another important aspect of this competition is that the research teams selected must share their results and make all the information generated available to the community, including the databases and the products they generate. This access must be free of charge, unrestricted and allow the information to be freely reused in accordance with existing open access practices.