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Director’s Reflections at the End of 2020

The year 2020 is coming to an end. We have battled historic wildfires, racial injustice, murder hornets, and a global pandemic that shook the world. At a time when it would be easy to brush off a tough year as we face the dawn of a new one, I find myself more grateful than ever. Grateful for the clinicians, nurses and staff who don extra PPE and adapt to rapidly changing policies to not only treat our patients, but find ways to comfort them while battling a virus that demands isolation. Grateful for the workforce who set up home offices and adjusted to Zoom meetings, long hours and balancing work and home under one roof. Grateful for the parents who became teachers and IT experts while juggling the very same Zoom meetings and responsibilities. You are the omnipresent beacons of hope lighting our way to the new year, and for this I thank you.

Thank you for the central roles you have played, putting our department at the forefront of this pandemic. During a time when the whole world was watching, you reminded people of the importance masks, social distancing and our responsibility to ourselves and our neighbors. You shared resources and came up with creative solutions to deal with shortages. You dove headfirst into COVID research to better understand the virus and what we can do to help. You took on new leadership roles, became national experts and even treated the President of the United States after his diagnosis. In short, you made us look good.

Thank you for going above and beyond the call of duty. During the first surge, it became clear that it would not be the last. Instead of enjoying the lull, our clinical and administrative leaders used the time between surges to plan and prepare, putting us in a better position for the future. Our investigators submitted more grant proposals and were approved for more funding than recent years despite having to close labs and adhere to reduced capacity regulations. Our residency programs jumped at the chance to create videos and improve their web presence instead of being deterred by the prospects of a virtual interview season.

As 2020 comes to a close, I’d like to express not only my gratitude for each of you, but my optimism for the future. This pandemic has awakened a reverence for the role of science in understanding the virus, identifying the role of the spike protein and engineering a portfolio of therapeutics at an unprecedented pace. We have begun distribution of a vaccine that took only 11 months to create. Before this, the quickest vaccine to ever have been developed, the mumps vaccine, took four years to reach the public. This alone is worthy of celebration. And our team has been at the forefront of clinical trials and innovations to help vanquish COVID-19. Alongside the personal and professional challenges this year has brought, your success continues to blossom in all three arms of our tripartite mission. Thank you for your unwavering commitment to excellence. If we can make it through a year like 2020, imagine what else we can do.



Mark Anderson