Date: March 10, 2021 By:
image credit: Lisa Ferdinando, Office of the Secretary of Defense
As part of its commitment to science education, the Ragon Institute had the unique opportunity of working with the Cambridge Public Library to bring COVID-19 information straight from researchers to the public. Ragon Director Bruce Walker, MD; Harvard postdoctoral fellow Zuri Sullivan, PhD; and Josefine Wendel of the Cambridge Public Health Department, gave a presentation entitled, “Vaccines and the COVID-19 Pandemic: A Primer for the Public.”
“The Ragon is committed to our educational efforts,” says Walker, “both in our community and in developing the next generation of physicians and scientists to take on global health challenges. This presentation to the Cambridge public was a great opportunity for us to share how the COVID pandemic arose, how the SARS-CoV-2 virus causes disease, how it can be treated and how vaccines are path toward ending this scourge. “
The virtual event, which was attended by 115 people, began with a presentation by Sullivan on the biology of SARS-CoV-2; the impact and risks of COVID-19, and the current vaccine efforts; and an insightful examination of how mutant viruses may affect current vaccines’ efficacies. Wendel followed with information on how to sign up for or receive the vaccine for Cambridge residents, along with an in-depth look into the overall strategy for vaccine rollout in Massachusetts.
“Community outreach is an important part of our work as scientists that can often be overlooked,” says Sullivan. “As immunologists, we’re fortunate to be able to speak to the ongoing crisis and the promise of vaccines. It meant a lot to me to give back to the community during this extraordinarily challenging time.”
The event, which was part of the Ragon Institute’s educational efforts, concluded with a robust question and answer session led by Walker, an expert in infectious diseases whose experience with HIV has translated into an invaluable resource for the COVID-19 efforts.
In addition to this event, the Ragon is collaborating with local high schools to create intensive 1-day and 2-day workshops, centered around the science of COVID-19, and creating an internship program for undergraduates, slated to begin in the summer of 2022.