Pathways Issue 5: Research to Combat COVID-19 | Page 3


Dear friends and colleagues ,
It ’ s been more than six months since everything changed . The COVID-19 pandemic , with its physical distancing , virtual meetings and PPE , is still with us . As a global health-care community , we ’ ve witnessed sudden illness and tragic loss . But we ’ ve also come through this together and in new ways that have forever transformed our approach and our capability to respond now and in the future .
It can be hard to see a silver lining during a public health crisis , but the improved state of our health systems and structures , galvanized by COVID-19 , will serve us well moving forward . One thing is clear — we can ’ t go back to the way we worked before this pandemic .
Here in British Columbia ( B . C .), the success of the rapid public health response to COVID-19 has been exceptional . It demonstrates what can happen when boundaries blur and policy-makers , health professionals , researchers and industry come together to think more holistically about prioritizing , coordinating and translating research towards minimizing the impacts of the pandemic .
Across Canada , we ’ re home to some of the world ’ s finest researchers . Many Canadians are likely unaware B . C . researchers sequenced the SARS genome in 2002 and developed a prototype vaccine . The Ebola vaccine came from Winnipeg . And at the University of British Columbia , we ’ re part of a community of scientists — locally and globally — pursuing and contributing new knowledge to accelerate the translation of COVID-19 research to patient care . This new level of collaboration , which combines different skills and multiple partnerships , has vastly improved our ability to develop new treatments , therapies and a vaccine , which are now moving quickly through clinical trials and into the approval process . The return on investment is very real .
Indeed , the pandemic has underscored the value of research in the quest for greater health and well‐being . Research fuels data , and data fuels research and innovation . For example , in March we launched the COVID-19 Clinical Research Coordination Initiative ( CRCI ) initially , jointly with the Provincial Health Services Authority to align our provincial research activities , data-sharing and resources to shorten timelines and accelerate discoveries and solutions . The CRCI now includes an impressive roster of academic , health , industry , regulatory and funding partners , and aligns strongly with the BC Centre for Disease Control and the B . C .’ s Ministry of Health and its COVID-19 Strategic Research Advisory Committee to further accelerate research and discovery .
It ’ s been more than six months since the pandemic began . It ’ s been an extraordinary time , a sad time . But we ’ ve grown upward together and we should all feel pride in being part of a health-care community that ’ s helping lead the fight against COVID-19 — provincially , nationally and globally . We now have the tools to respond more rapidly and effectively to the next wave or new pandemic . As long as we retain the infrastructure , continue the investment and nurture our networks , we ’ ll fulfill our promise to transform health for everyone . The old way of doing things is over . The new age of collaborative research-based health care has just begun . We have a long way to go , but we ’ ll get there together .
Yours in good health ,
Dermot Kelleher MB , MD , FRCP , FRCPI , FMedSci , FCAHS , FRCPC , AGAF Dean , Faculty of Medicine Vice-President , Health The University of British Columbia