Rapid Translation Award Honorees Discuss COVID-19 Response and Implications for Future


The Research!America 2021 Virtual Advocacy Awards program featured a discussion in recognition of the 2021 Rapid Translation Award, which honors a public-private partnership that has made progress in the fight against COVID-19. The honorees are Moderna and the National Institutes of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID). 

Former NIH Director (2002-2008) and Research!America Board member, Elias Zerhouni, MD, introduced Dr. Barney Graham of NIAID and Dr. Stephen Hoge of Moderna for a conversation with Susan Dentzer, Senior Policy Fellow at Robert J. Margolis Center for Health Policy at Duke University and Research!America Board Chair, about the importance of public-private partnerships and investment in accelerating medical progress. 

The key to the rapid development of the earliest COVID-19 vaccines, Dr. Hoge said, was “investments in basic science and basic technology development.” He stressed that ensuring we have the capacity to respond in the future will require further preparation and investment in basic research. Dr. Graham added that the presence of an existing scientific relationship between Moderna and NIAID created trust that allowed for rapid decisions to be made. 

Knowing this pandemic will not be our last, the honorees explored areas that must be improved or augmented to facilitate these collaborations. Dr. Graham expressed that the need for preparedness must be separated from the need for response. “The work of preparedness,” he said, “is long term and it requires a long term investment in basic research and knowledge-base development and manufacturing development.” 

Speaking from the private-sector perspective, Dr. Hoge added that in order to support public sector preparedness, the private sector will also need investment, “both in basic science, basic biomedical research, and in ensuring we have the capacity to respond in the future.” The private sector and the public sector both have parts to play in ensuring preparedness for the next pandemic.

Learn more about the Rapid Translation Award honorees and watch a recording of the full 2021 Advocacy Awards program.

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If concerted, long-term investments in research are not made, America will lose an entire generation of young scientists.
Brenda Canine, PhD; McLaughlin Research Institute, Montana