UC Riverside will lead a multi-campus consortium tasked with researching the origins of COVID-19, which might ultimately lead to methods of stopping its propagation, it was announced Wednesday.

UCR received a $1.75 million University of California Multicampus Research Programs & Initiatives — MRPI — award for the purpose of forming a “Coronavirus Assembly Research Consortium.”

Physics professor Roya Zandi will be the principal investigator overseeing the project, which also involves UC Davis and UC Merced.

“This consortium will aim to understand the physical principles underlying the formation of coronaviruses,” Zandi said. “We will also explore the impact of some drugs on the assembly process.”

Scientists are still sorting out the elements at work in the replication of SARS-COV-2 pathogens and their assembly pathways, using in vitro experiments and computer simulations to gain understanding.

However, a complete picture is lacking, and having one may enable researchers to improve methods of combating COVID-19 and its cohorts, according to UCR.

“With the goal of determining ways to disrupt viral assembly, this consortium will investigate the roles of structural proteins in SARS-CoV-2 assembly, using an integrated, multidisciplinary approach across multiple scales and environments,” Zandi said.

The grant funds are required to be expended over the next four years.

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