Director's Message: Call to Redirect Efforts toward COVID-19

Needless to say, these are trying times for all. We are preoccupied with the added complexity of not only our health but that of our families, the health and safety of our co-workers, lab staff, students and hospital healthcare professionals, all of whom are risking their health to care for others.

I am grateful that President Barbara Snyder created an avenue for donations of personal protective equipment from our labs to the healthcare community, and to Dean Pam Davis and Mark Chance who have coordinated policy oversight to preserve our education and research programs across the campuses.

We in the cancer center recognize that our patients need diagnoses including surgery, treatment and safe practice management that includes telehealth and more complex coordination of care.

I am deeply saddened to hear of the loss of Floyd Cardoz who passed away from COVID-19 last week. Floyd was a favorite of our philanthropic efforts and a very strong supporter of our Young Scientist Foundation that helped to spur our R25 program for high school students. So this virus, which I would call a random act of viral violence, is affecting each and every one of us.

But, when we asked a week ago for our cancer research community to redirect their efforts toward COVID-19, we received an outpouring of responses, sending two proposals off to the National Cancer Institute for funding opportunities and passing along another 15 proposals behind them as I asked them to try harder to find funds!

The list of topics is impressive and some will quickly enter antiviral testing, others will assemble a coordinated database effort to support risk, prognosis and outcome management, and we expect 3-4 to rapidly be in the queue for novel therapeutics with U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) Investigational New Drug (IND) support. And finally, we are passing these proposals to the cancer development teams here at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland Clinic and University Hospitals for their efforts to secure funding.

Keep safe, keep your focus and contribute to stemming the spread and impact of COVID-19.