Skip to Main Content

UNF receives COVID-19 Research Grant from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation

The University of North Florida is among 15 winners of the first Research Accelerator grants funded by the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation as announced by the COVID-19 Research Consortium, the Health Care Cost Institute and Datavant. The grant program is to ensure that researchers have the resources they need to leverage the COVID-19 Research Database to study the direct and indirect impact of COVID-19.

UNF will receive funding towards a project on “Telehealth Disparity: Investigating the Predictors for Low Utilization among Minority Populations.” UNF researchers include Dr. Cynthia Williams, health administration associate professor in the Brooks College of Health, and Dr. Richard Shang, management assistant professor in the Coggin College of Business.

Their research will investigate social determinants of health, health status and health behavioral causes for low telehealth utilization. Drs. Williams and Shang will examine cross-cultural factors, gender differences and other social factors that contribute to inequities in access and health outcomes.  This work will inform socially and culturally sensitive interventions to promote equity in technology-enabled healthcare among minority populations.

The COVID-19 Research Database is the result of a cross-sector partnership of leading health organizations that resulted in the availability of a secure repository of HIPAA-compliant, de-identified and limited patient-level data sets. With more than 250 million unique patients and 85 billion records, this database is the largest secure repository of real-world data made freely available to public health and policy researchers studying the pandemic.

The first round of grants prioritized research proposals that investigate the roles of gender in the pandemic. The goal is to accelerate evidence for policies that mitigate the effects of the current pandemic and strengthen future disaster preparedness. The grant program received hundreds of applications from 20 different countries.

The COVID-19 research database enables public health and policy researchers to use real-world data to better understand and combat the COVID-19 pandemic. The database is pro-bono, cross-industry collaborative, and composed of institutions donating technology services, healthcare expertise and de-identified data.

UNF research will begin this summer and will be featured in the COVID-19 Research Database Grand Rounds webinar series later this year.