Researcher puts database on the frontline for COVID-19

A man stands in front of a windowFiona Stanley Hospital surgeon Professor Toby Richards (pictured right) put research on the frontline for COVID-19 with the setup of a statewide database and biobank, enabling WA researchers to contribute data to global efforts, and in collaboration with the Australian National Phenome Centre, contribute to a new body of knowledge around the impact of COVID-19 on the body.

Despite the massive number of infections worldwide, the clinical trial data on COVID-19 treatments is poor based on less than 50,000 patients (0.05 per cent). In response, Toby setup the COVID Research Response (CRR) Trial to ensure WA could contribute data to aid in the search for COVID-19 treatments.

Toby, who is also Michael Lawrence Brown Chair of Surgery at The University of Western Australia (UWA), worked with Pathwest, the other Perth Metropolitan hospitals, the Australian National Phenome Centre (Murdoch University) and UWA to create the database, biobank and a state-wide process for data collection, ethics and governance, translational research, and clinical trial coordination for COVID-19 treatment research.

“Over the last year we’ve collected over 118 patient data sets and over 1500 bio samples from across all Perth metropolitan hospitals,” Toby said. “Hospital data was integrated into the REDCap system, including electronic consent, and serum samples into clinical pathways at Path West.”

“Sequential groups of patient data have provided a rich source of information for the development of potential COVID-19 treatments, and so far we’ve distributed this data for seven separate research projects.”

Toby and his team have collaborated internationally via the National COVID Research Group with data from WA being shared for research projects in the UK, America and Europe, resulting in two Lancet series manuscripts and nine translational science articles, and submission of a patent for new technology.

“The speed at which the global pandemic progressed highlighted the importance of collaboration and international research, and it was great to contribute to the worldwide fight against the virus,” Toby said.

“I hope the CRR will produce significant results with great benefit to patients, WA, national and international COVID-19 research, and serve as a platform to build research in WA moving forward.”

The database was based on a World Health Organisation International Severe Acute Respiratory and Emerging Infection Consortium (ISARIC) platform.

Read our research reports to learn more about research conducted across SMHS.

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Last Updated: 18/08/2021