University answers Health Secretary’s call for help


Sighthill equipment goes on loan to support Covid-19 testing drive

Date posted

17 April 2020

11:14

Edinburgh Napier is using its resources to boost the national drive to increase testing for COVID-19 by sending equipment from its School of Applied Sciences to support health authorities on both sides of the border.

thermo cycler machines

The move follows a request for help from the Health Secretary.  Matt Hancock wrote to Principal Andrea Nolan on April 10 about the critical need for lab equipment to support the national effort to defeat coronavirus, and listed a number of priority items.

Professor Gary Hutchison, Dean of Applied Sciences, secured permission to return to the Sighthill campus with his family during the national lockdown to identify materials on the Government help list which have now been collected by a military team as a temporary loan.

The equipment loaned by the University includes four thermo cycler machines, used as part of the molecular biology process to determine if a patient test is positive or negative for the virus. 

Following collection by the army, they will now be sent to test centres across the UK to support the drive to increase testing.

In a separate development, Professor Hutchison has been in dialogue with NHS Scotland procurement and NHS National Services Scotland to make them aware of what equipment the University has.

nursing personal protective equipment 

As a first step, Personal Protective Equipment including body suits, masks, gloves and aprons is now being gathered for collection to support staff involved with the COVID-19 testing programme and other frontline activities.

Professor Hutchison said: “Assembling the correct equipment to meet testing needs in this time of national emergency is a huge logistical challenge.

“As Dean, I am proud that our School is doing what it can to support this national scientific effort, our local scientists and frontline health professionals as best we can in this time of need.”

Staff at the Merchiston campus have also been supporting health workers by making scores of face masks on a laser cutter, and a ventilator has been transferred from the University to the intensive care unit at Edinburgh Royal Infirmary.

Portrait of Gary Hutchison




School of Applied Sciences

Our applied approach to science and social sciences makes a positive impact both nationally and internationally. Through our strength in research, and our reputation for 5-star teaching (QS), our graduates are recognised as work-ready from day one.