I’m writing this having just logged off a video call – for many of us, the “new normal” since the COVID-19 crisis started. And over the course of the calls in which I’ve participated, in the background I’ve caught glimpses of football pictures on home office walls, kids’ artwork on refrigerators, and said hello to quite a few family members (including cats and dogs).
You know what else I’ve seen, over the course of these calls and the activities of the last two weeks? The resiliency, creativity, and get-the-job-done attitude of our entire research community. From administrative staff to postdocs to PIs to animal care team members, I continue to be amazed by your passion for the important work we do, in the face of such adversity.
At the Medical School, there are over 11,000 faculty and staff working in 600+ labs and units. On March 18, we asked that super tanker to turn on a dime, with the directive that all “non-critical” research ramp down for closure within 48 hours. YOU have stepped up and activated your own rapid response plan to slim down and/or stop operations. YOU have reduced your work force to essential personnel, and YOU repeatedly asked “what can we do to help?” YOU have responded, and joined the effort to tamp down this threat. In my own lab at BSRB, I asked my staff to shelter in place and be safe with their families as my laboratory, like many of yours, is operating under maintanence-only activities. Collectively, we need to recognize the efforts of our clinical faculty and staff, who are literally operating in the eye of the storm. To this courageous group we send our sincere THANK YOUs.
Yet through all this, there are substories that have come to the surface. Facilities staff tells us that as of last Wednesday, they received over 1,000 car loads of equipment and PPE for the hospital – much of that in the form of donations from our labs. Even in the midst of enormous uncertainty, our research community stepped up to the plate to help our clinical colleagues and the patients we all ultimately serve. I am in awe, and words cannot express the gratitude I feel for all your efforts and I promise to continue to keep you all informed of developments. Please CLICK HERE for our Office of Research updates.
In closing, I can definitively say this – WE ARE WITH YOU. Take care of yourselves, and your families, and together we will continue to demonstrate to the world that U-M Medical School research faculty and staff are truly the “leaders and best.”
Thank you and stay safe,
Steven L. Kunkel, Ph.D.
Executive Vice Dean for Research, Medical School
Chief Scientific Officer, Michigan Medicine
Peter A. Ward Distinguished University Professor
Endowed Professor of Pathology Research