COVID-19: Impact on Biomedical Research

There has been a lot of discussion these days about the COVID-19 pandemic and its short- and long-term effects. And with good reason! The impact of the pandemic has hit us all in so many ways – physical and mental health, work and family responsibilities, economic challenges, educational timelines, to name just a few. But there is relatively little in the lay or biomedical literatures about the likely long-term effects of the pandemic on biomedical research and those who do it.

People and families affected by neurological disorders depend critically on neuroscience and neurology research for new answers and solutions to the disorders that challenge them. What impact has the COVID-19 pandemic had on this research and its workforce, and which of these effects are likely to outlast the pandemic itself?

AAN President Orly Avitzur, M.D. moderates a panel featuring (from left to right): Nina Schor, M.D., Ph.D., Merit Cudkowicz, M.D., and Brenda Branwell, M.D.
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Pioneer Mentors

In addition to this post, I recently co-wrote about the importance of recruiting and retaining women in the field of neurology in an editorial published in the journal Neurology*

Although it hurts me to admit it, I am what the New York Times would call “a woman of a certain age”.  As such, I was mentored and nurtured as a scientist and physician largely by men, almost all of them white and almost all of them much senior to me.  This was not at all a bad thing.  It was as it was then and I was grateful for their guidance and vote of confidence.  Indeed, these men were, themselves, outliers and pioneers – men who welcomed a woman as a trainee and then colleague were not particularly common in science and medicine in the 1970s.  But there were two remarkable women who did take me under their wings and usher me into science and medicine with a woman’s approach.  These women – Sofia Simmonds, Ph.D. and Maria New, M.D. – were neither perfect nor doing exactly what I wanted to do.  But they fueled my passion for intellectual pursuit and alleviation of human suffering and showed me I did not have to become someone or something else to be a part of that world.  Here are their stories.

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