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To address the need for increased testing, Ulster University has prioritised a number of initiatives to support local health care trusts and key workers.

In partnership with Western Health & Social Care Trust, researchers from the School of Biomedical Sciences have increased testing capacity tenfold at Altnagelvin Hospital.  joined The Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute and Queen’s University Belfast to form a Covid-19 consortium, using existing supply chain connections to secure vital testing equipment, reagents and robotics, allowing for enhanced testing at the Western Trust, without compromising supplies to other regional testing centres.

The initiative has resulted in the completion of over 1000 Covid-19 viral tests at Altnagelvin since efforts began in early April, illustrating the power of cross-sector collaboration with academia.

In an effort to scale up testing further, Professor Tony Bjourson and his team have identified a robotic DNA purification machine which could increase output to as much as 500 tests a day.

Crowdfunding Success

To finance the initiative, Ulster University launched a campaign that successfully crowdfunded donations in excess of £112,000 needed to purchase the machine, which is set to be in operation as early as the second week in May.