The grants aim to spur quick results in research on the virus Research grants worth a total of $12 million are being made available to Hong Kong universities to foster Sars-related scientific study. The University Grants Committee's research grants council (RGC) is inviting applications for a share of a $10 million fund to support research that can produce quick results. The city's two medical schools will also receive emergency grants of $1 million each for Sars-related research. The council's biology and medicine panel, headed by Charles Bangham, head of the Department of Immunology of the medical faculty at London's Imperial College, will screen applications and decide next month on the successful applications. The money will be available from July. RGC chairman Kenneth Young, of Chinese University, said the approved projects should produce results useful for combatting Sars within one to two years. 'This is an emergency measure. We want to support projects that can produce quick results. Projects that require a longer period of studies can still seek support by applying for our annual competitive earmarked grants,' he said. '[And] there are other resources in the community which can support similar research.' The government has earmarked $500 million for a new fund for university research on infectious diseases, one of a series of anti-Sars measures announced by Chief Executive Tung Chee-hwa. A special adviser to the RGC panel, Rosie Young Tse-tse, said the panel was expecting to support research in pursuit of accurate diagnosis of the disease, possible vaccines and treatment methods for Sars, and understanding of the forms of transmission of the virus. Professor Young, a former dean of the University of Hong Kong's medical faculty, said: 'Sars is a big disaster for mankind. But it is also a big chance for local scientists to contribute to studies on infectious diseases. For example, we are still not sure whether the transmission of the virus is just through droplets or airborne, or whether the coronavirus is truly what causes the disease.'' She said funding could also be provided for studies on possible drugs for treating Sars, or research on diagnosis techniques. Established in 1991, the RGC funded 691 projects worth $428 million in last year's annual funding allocation exercise. Thirty per cent of the funding granted was related to biology and medicine.