A $100,000 donation to Epworth HealthCare could help Melbourne researchers to better understand why COVID-19 affects some people differently.

The research project led by Epworth HealthCare infectious diseases expert Dr James McMahon, is building a Biobank of blood samples and throat swabs taken from COVID-19 patients admitted to hospitals across Melbourne during the pandemic.

Dr McMahon said the biobank is vital in helping doctors to better understand COVID-19.

“The research project has been collecting samples from COVID patients admitted to hospital since the pandemic began,” Dr McMahon said.

Clinicians, researchers and scientists with an expertise in infectious diseases, immunology and virology then perform detailed analyses on the samples.

“The project allows us to compare samples of people who have been infected, to understand why different people’s immune systems respond in different ways to the virus.”

It’s hoped the research will help identify markers in the blood and throat swabs that can be used to predict whether COVID-19 patients may have poorer outcomes. It could be possible to target existing medications or new drugs to use on different patients.

Until now, blood and throat swabs have only been taken from COVID-19 patients in hospital.

A $100,000 donation to Epworth HealthCare from the Ray William Houston Trust has allowed this expansion of Biobank, to collect samples from people who returned a positive test result to COVID-19, but weren’t hospitalised.

About the Ray William Houston Trust

In honour of his parents, William Henry and Vera Ellen Houston, Raymond Houston established a charitable trust within his Will to benefit a number of important social causes that both he and his parents were passionate about. One of their passions was medicine which has enabled this trust to participate in important research into COVID19. Raymond, a WWII veteran, was a devoted son and cared for his elderly mother until she passed away. Their family bond is memorialised in their charitable giving each and every year.

Philanthropy helps make our good hospital great. Your generosity directly funds equipment purchases, facility upgrades, research projects and patient care services which would otherwise not be available.