The highly collaborative project, which was a proof-of-principle study to investigate the laboratory, data, and logistical requirements needed to run a programme of regular COVID-19 testing in an asymptomatic population, has been awarded the Chancellor's Award for Outstanding Achievement.
The Norwich Testing Initiative was delivered by the Earlham Institute, the University of East Anglia (UEA), the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals, the John Innes Centre, the Quadram Institute and The Sainsbury Laboratory - all based on Norwich Research Park. Working with partners across the Norwich Research Park, the Earlham Institute established and delivered a testing programme that saw over 3,000 samples from more than 800 people analysed in the first stage of the project.
Building on this success, the second phase of the Norwich Testing Initiative made tests available for the returning students to address concerns over asymptomatic transmission on university campuses.
Sarah Cossey, Director of Operations at the Earlham Institute, said: "It’s been a wonderful project to work on. The partnerships that have been built will enable the Norwich Research Park to be agile and draw upon the wide range of disciplines and expertise that exist across its partners to meet future national and regional life science and health needs."
As well as the publication of two papers, results and materials from the project were made publicly available to help inform the wider research community about how coronavirus community surveillance testing might be targeted in response to localised outbreaks of the virus, as well as providing a template approach for others to adapt and apply in their regions.
The UEA Innovation and Impact Awards shine a light on projects that have created significant impact beyond academia, with the Norwich Testing Initiative as the only nominee for the coveted Chancellor’s award.
The second phase of the Norwich Testing Initiative has recently been published in the Journal of Public Health.