The COVID-19 pandemic sparked a remarkable pivot for many scientists around the world and particularly for the experts in immunology and public health at Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. Dr. Tom Lynch, president and director and holder of the Raisbeck Endowed Chair, recently led a fast-paced and far-reaching conversation with Drs. Jesse Bloom, Neel Dey, and Ruth Etzioni on how the pandemic is changing biomedical research.
Watch the full event below or read the transcript.
Here are a few insights from the discussion:
We're using well-honed scientific muscles to solve a brand-new problem. The panelists said they are applying expertise they have built over the course of their careers to address an epic scientific and public health challenge. For Dr. Etzioni, that means using data and models to guide policy decisions, much as she has for prostate cancer. Dr. Bloom is decoding the coronavirus using tools he developed to study influenza. And Dr. Dey is studying the virus through the lens of his specialty, the microbiome.
A continued focus on cures for cancer. Many Fred Hutch researchers have incorporated coronavirus-focused projects without slowing their cancer research. Dr. Bloom commended the younger generation of new scientists, including his graduate students, for bringing creative ideas to the effort. And as Dr. Dey noted, "Coronavirus hasn’t diverted our attention, it has invigorated our lab to expand."
Be wary of relying on social media for science information. Scientists are making new discoveries about the coronavirus every day, and sorting truth from misinformation is challenging. Our panelists shared some of their favorite media sources, from Ed Yong at The Atlantic to the Timmerman Report to the Fred Hutch news service.