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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Disability vs. This Ability

There can be no question that events and circumstances beyond our control can provide us with experiences and understanding that change our world view and juxtapose us with people with whom we might otherwise not have anything in common. For example, after a spinal cord injury, an astrophysicist and a long-distance truck driver might have a shared understanding of disability, recovery, and the courage to succeed despite a “new normal”. But in all other respects, they remain different people with different interests, capabilities, training, and passions. All too often, though, the society around an individual with a disability defines that person primarily by their disability. It is as if who and what they were for most of their lives cease to matter.

The assumptions we make about individuals with disabilities are often mistaken. This is especially the case of the assumption that their goals, aspirations, capabilities, reactions to their disabilities, and expectations for recovery are all alike.

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