Partnership, Progress, Pandemic: The Impact of COVID-19 on Medical Discovery

Event Date: 
Thursday, June 18, 2020
2 - 3:15 p.m. ET

How is COVID-19 affecting progress against cancer and other long-standing health threats?  Join Research!America and partners for a virtual roundtable discussion focusing on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on public and private sector-fueled medical progress. The participants will explore the pandemic’s influence on the research NIH conducts and supports, our nation’s R&D infrastructure, the private sector investment climate, technology transfer and other key variables influencing the pace of medical progress, and opportunities to quickly reboot R&D as we move forward.

Download the Biomedical Research and Development Pipeline infographic.


Sudip Parikh, PhD, chief executive officer, American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS)


  • Ned Sharpless, MD, director, National Cancer Institute, NIH

  • Jenny Luray, MPA, vice president, strategy and communications, Research!America

  • Eleanor Perfetto, PhD, MS, executive vice president, strategic initiatives, National Health Council

  • Heather Pierce, JD, MPH, senior director for science policy and regulatory counsel, Association of American Medical Colleges

About the participants

Sudip Parikh, PhD, became the 19th chief executive officer of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and executive publisher of the Science family of journals in January 2020.  Parikh has spent two decades at the nexus of science, policy, and business.

Immediately prior to joining AAAS, Parikh was senior vice president and managing director at DIA Global, a neutral, multidisciplinary organization bringing together regulators, industry, academia, patients, and other stakeholders interested in healthcare product development.  He led strategy in the Americas and oversaw DIA programs that catalyzed progress globally toward novel regulatory frameworks for advanced therapies not amenable to existing regulations.

Prior to DIA, Sudip was general manager of the Health and Consumer Solutions business unit and vice president at Battelle, a multibillion-dollar research and development organization. He led a $150 million business unit with over 500 scientific, technical, and computing experts performing basic and applied research, developing medicines and healthcare devices, and creating advanced analytics and artificial intelligence applications to improve human health.  Previously, Parikh led Battelle’s global AgriFood business unit. Headquartered in London and Geneva, this unit provided environmental fate research and agriculture product development services from laboratories throughout Europe and the United States.

From 2001 to 2009, Parikh served as science advisor and professional staff to the United States Senate Appropriations Committee, where he was responsible for negotiating budgets for the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, and other scientific and health agencies. A key legislative liaison to the research and development ecosystem, Parikh was on the frontlines of many science policy issues debated during that time, including embryonic stem cell research, cloning, disease surveillance, bioterrorism, cyber security, and doubling the NIH budget.

An active member of the scientific advocacy community, Parikh serves as a board member and officer for several impactful organizations, including Research!America, Friends of Cancer Research, and ACT for NIH.  He has received multiple public service awards, including recognition from the American Association of Immunologists, the National AIDS Alliance, the Coalition for Health Services Research, and the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation. 

Sudip is committed to early STEM education and, as a parent of three energetic young children, he prioritizes volunteering as a mentor for Science Olympiad teams at two elementary schools. 

Early in his career, Parikh was a Presidential Management Intern at the NIH. He was awarded a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship while earning his Ph.D. in macromolecular structure and chemistry from the Scripps Research Institute in La Jolla, Calif.  There, he used structural biology and biochemistry techniques to probe the mechanisms of DNA repair enzymes bound to DNA. The son of Indian immigrants who worked in the textile and furniture manufacturing plants of North Carolina, Parikh completed undergraduate studies at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, first as a journalism major before switching into materials science.

Norman E. “Ned” Sharpless, MD, served as Acting Commissioner of Food and Drugs from April 5, 2019 to November 1, 2019.  Previously, he was appointed as the 15th director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) on October 17, 2017. Prior to his NCI appointment, Dr. Sharpless served as the director of the University of North Carolina (UNC) Lineberger Comprehensive Cancer Center, a position he held since January 2014.

Dr. Sharpless was a Morehead Scholar at UNC–Chapel Hill and received his undergraduate degree in mathematics. He went on to pursue his medical degree from the UNC School of Medicine, graduating with honors and distinction in 1993. He then completed his internal medicine residency at the Massachusetts General Hospital and a hematology/oncology fellowship at Dana-Farber/Partners Cancer Care, both of Harvard Medical School in Boston.

After 2 years on the faculty at Harvard Medical School, he joined the faculty of the UNC School of Medicine in the Departments of Medicine and Genetics in 2002. He became the Wellcome Professor of Cancer Research at UNC in 2012.

Jenny Luray is vice president of strategy and communications at Research!America. In that role, Ms. Luray works across Research!America’s policy, development and communications departments to build partnerships and enhance capacity. Previously, Ms. Luray directed U.S. policy and government affairs for BD and Abbott, where she partnered with internal and external stakeholders to address regulatory, payment and public health issues related to diagnostics, medication safety, antibiotic stewardship and insulin monitoring among other issues. In addition, Ms. Luray served as chief of staff to former Senator Barbara Mikulski, and legislative director to Congresswoman Nita Lowey. Ms. Luray currently serves on the Governing Committee of National Evaluation System for health Technology Coordinating Center (NESTcc), an FDA-funded effort to develop the use of real-world data in medical device oversight. 

Eleanor M. Perfetto, PhD, MS was named senior vice president of Strategic Initiatives for the National Health Council in 2015 and was promoted to executive vice president in 2019. She also holds a part-time faculty appointment at the University of Maryland, Baltimore School of Pharmacy where she is professor of Pharmaceutical Health Service Research. Her research and policy work primarily focus on patient engagement in comparative effectiveness and patient centeredoutcomes research, medical product development; patient-reported outcome selection and development; and health care quality. 

Heather H. Pierce, JD, MPH, is Senior Director for Science Policy and Regulatory Counsel at the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC). She serves as AAMC's leader for scientific regulatory issues including human subject protections, clinical research, conflicts of interest, research data sharing, evidence-based regulation, and collaborations between industry, government, and academia in biomedical research. She is the subject matter expert for the AAMC's Forum on Conflict of Interest in Academe and for Convey, the AAMC's global financial interest disclosure system.

Ms. Pierce currently serves on the Board of Directors for the Association for the Accreditation of Human Research Protection Programs (AAHRPP) and is the past Chair of the Board of Directors of Public Responsibility in Medicine and Research (PRIM&R), where she has been a regular contributor to in-person programs and webinars for over a decade. She regularly speaks at national forums on issues related to the protection of human subjects, regulatory burden, research ethics, biospecimens, scientific misconduct, legislation and policymaking related to research, and research compliance, and has published articles and commentaries on these topics in Nature, Science, The New England Journal of Medicine, JAMA, and The American Journal of Bioethics. She has served on committees, working groups and task forces of organizations including the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine, The Pew Charitable Trusts, and the National Dialogue on Healthcare Innovation.

Prior to joining AAMC, Ms. Pierce was an attorney in the Health Care Group of the law firm of Ropes & Gray LLP in New York. Her regulatory practice focused on medical research and clinical care. She received her law degree from NYU School of Law and her MPH in Health Law from Boston University.

Media Contacts

Tim Haynes
Senior Director of Communications 

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