The Experientia Foundation has joined the IOCB Tech initiative, donating one million CZK to Czech scientists to help in the fight against coronavirus. The private foundation was founded by the scientist couple Hana and Dalimil Dvořák. Its donation will be divided equally between two Czech sites that in recent weeks have been working without external financial support to develop new methods of testing for SARS-CoV-2 and tackling related interdisciplinary issues. The two recipients are the Institute of Molecular and Translational Medicine of the Faculty of Medicine of Palacký University in Olomouc and the IDEA Think Tank at CERGE-EI as part of their “IDEA anti Covid-19” research agenda.

“From the start, we felt it was our civic duty to contribute to the fight against coronavirus,” the Dvořáks explain. “We consulted the academic institutions coordinator for coronavirus testing, Dr Jan Konvalinka, to determine where our support would be most needed at this moment, and we will get it to those institutions fast.”

One donation from the foundation will go to the Institute of Molecular and Translational Medicine of the Faculty of Medicine of Palacký University in Olomouc, where a team headed by Dr Marián Hajdúch is working on the development and optimization of diagnostic methods associated with the preparation of samples for testing for COVID-19 as well as on exploring the molecular basis of resistance to coronavirus infection seen in younger people. As Dr Hajdúch explains, “Understanding this phenomenon will allow us to identify at-risk individuals in the population, and we then have the potential to use this knowledge for targeted pharmacological interventions that increase the resistance of seniors to infection.”

The other recipient of the Experientia Foundation’s exceptional donation will be the IDEA Think Tank affiliated with the CERGE-EI institute, a joint academic venture between the ASCR Institute of National Economy and Charles University. As part of its IDEA anti Covid-19 research agenda, the academic think tank is focusing on technical aspects of the testing process such as efficiency gains and optimization of population testing, as well as epidemiological modelling in relation to demographic structure, and anticipating the course of the epidemic to help determine the optimal timing of government restrictions and provision of economic and social support, including impact on the education and training sector. “It is becoming increasingly evident that the Czech Republic lacks some of the knowhow we need to solve some of the broader challenges associated with the epidemic effectively,” says Dr Münich, head of the IDEA Group at CERGE-EI. “To develop this knowledge, we need to build close connections between the natural sciences on the one hand, and mathematics, statistics, econometrics, economics and behavioural sciences on the other.”

“I am very grateful to the Experientia Foundation for this initiative,” adds Dr Jan Konvalinka of Charles University and IOCB AS CR in Prague. “One million CZK is a large sum in academia, and the donation will of course play an important financial role, but its symbolic value is equally important,” the academic institutions coordinator for coronavirus testing explains.