Special Call for Research Proposals on COVID-19 in RMDs

Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) first emerged in Wuhan/China leading to a cluster of respiratory infections. The disease caused by SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus disease 2019, COVID-19) rapidly spreads worldwide. Patients with Rheumatic Musculoskeletal Diseases (RMDs) may be at particular risk for COVID-19 as they show an intrinsically higher risk for infections.

In addition, many of the treatments used for RMDs, such as glucocorticoids or disease modifying anti-rheumatic drugs have the potential to increase infection risk. Therefore, a better mechanistic understanding and clinical knowledge on the impact of COVID-19 in RMD patients is urgently needed.

FOREUM is highly alert to these developments threating patients with RMDs and therefore organizes an ad hoc research campaign to better understand the impact of COVID-19 on RMD patients.

FOREUM instigated a call for research propsal to support projects in the folowing areas:

  • Investigations that provide insights into the clinical course of COVID-19 in patients with RMD compared to non-RMD patients (international registers, cohorts, clinical studies)
  • Projects that address diagnostic and therapeutic challenges of SARS-CoV-2 infection in RMD patients
  • Research on pathogenic mechanisms (e.g. cytokine release syndrome) in the context of COVID-19

32 full proposals were received, peer reviewed and thoroughly evaluated. As a result, five projects are being funded.

Whole Genome Sequencing in thrombo-inflammatory disorders triggered by SARS-CoV-2: machine learning applied to extensive immunological, genetic, and clinical datasets and implications for systemic rheumatic diseases
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The impact of COVID-19 and national COVID-19 policies on people with rheumatic diseases; the CORE (COVID-19 in rheumatic diseases) project
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Telomere length in COVID-19: Biological aging and susceptibility to severe disease
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Deciphering a specific signature of the immunosenescence induced in COVID-19+ patients versus rheumatoid arthritis patients
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Assessing the impact of COVID-19 on Rheumatic and Musculoskeletal Disorders in primary care: an observational study of UK national primary care electronic health records
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