uOttawa-led pan-Canadian network receives $9 million from CIHR to track COVID-19 variants of concern

Posted on Friday, March 26, 2021


A project spearheaded by a researcher at the University of Ottawa’s Faculty of Medicine has been awarded $9 million in Canadian Institutes of Health Research (CIHR) funding to create a national network for better researching and responding to the global threat COVID-19 variants pose.

Led by Dr. Marc-André Langlois, the Coronavirus Variants Rapid Response Network or CoVaRR-Net, will enable the real-time assessment of both the immune response to the virus variants and whether these variants are resistant to existing vaccines. The findings will provide decision makers with guidance regarding drug therapy, vaccine effectiveness, and other public health strategies.

“CoVaRR-Net is poised to contribute to the Canadian effort to mitigate the impact of harmful variants of concern (VOC) on citizens of Canada and on the world population. This project constitutes a harmonized and rapid approach for real time assessment of the possible threat of SARS-CoV-2 variants and will serve as a blueprint for future pandemics to safeguard the health of all Canadians,” says Dr. Langlois, who is the Canada Research Chair in Molecular Virology and Intrinsic Immunity and Full Professor in the Department of Biochemistry, Microbiology, and Immunology at the University of Ottawa. “This network will act as Canada’s integrated platform for determining how VOCs impact Canadians from diverse communities and demographics and for tracking how SARS-CoV-2 is mutating in real time.”

Dr. Langlois and his team will collaborate with the Public Health Agency of Canada’s National Microbiology Lab (NML), the Canadian COVID-19 Genomics Network (CanCOGeN), provincial and territorial public health labs, and other national and international bodies.

The project is supported by various uOttawa partners, including:  

  • Amy Hsu, Assistant Professor in the Department of Family Medicine and Investigator at the Bruyère Research Institute; 
  • Angela Crawley, Assistant Professor in the Faculty of Medicine and Scientist at the Ottawa Hospital; 
  • Melissa Brouwers, Director of uOttawa’s School of Epidemiology and Public Health; 
  • Jeremy Grimshaw, Full Professor in the Department of Medicine and Senior Scientist at the Ottawa Hospital;  
  • Doug Manuel, Professor in the Faculty of Family Medicine and Senior Scientist at the Ottawa Hospital
  • Justin Presseau, Assistant Professor at uOttawa and Senior Scientist at the Ottawa Hospital. 


CoVaRR-Net members and research partners include:

  • Bruyère Research Institute
  • Ottawa Hospital Research Institute
  • Université de Montréal
  • Dalhousie University
  • University of Calgary
  • Université Laval
  • Sinai Health System
  • University of Toronto
  • University of Saskatchewan
  • McGill University
  • University of British Columbia
  • Simon Fraser University
  • University of Regina
  • SPOR (Strategy for Patient Oriented Research)
  • Saskatchewan Health Authority
Dr. Marc-André Langlois

Dr. Marc-André Langlois


Back to top