From the Chair: Learning from Others

March 23, 2020

Dear Members of the Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Community,

On Friday we completed a successful recruitment season for the 2020-2021 PGY1 residency class, matching nine residents with a variety of academic career goals for training in AP/CP, CP only, and CP/research. I want to personally welcome them and acknowledge their brave commitment to the future of our medical field.

Our own colleagues are hard at work and are making good progress in regard to our in-house SARS-CoV-2 testing. We have two assays up and running at HUP (CDC and Genmark) and we will learn about our allocation for a third assay (Cepheid) within the next 48 hours.

For our research community, I want to emphasize that we understand the disruptive effects this crisis has on your biomedical research and I want to assure all of you that we will all be doing our part to help you continue your work.

The NIH provides updated guidance and information as it becomes available. I encourage you to check out the links on this page, which offers updates on Proposal Submission & Award Management, Human Subjects & Clinical Trials, Animal Welfare, Peer Review, and other FAQs.

As they say, we are all in this together. That also means we can learn from people from all over the world and we can continue to develop skills that we are not necessarily trained in -- say, skills in improvisation and for creative problem-solving, in learning how to work in isolation, away from our colleagues, and to learn from people we might not otherwise encounter:

  • For example, here is a nice basic primer on COVID-19 by Dr. Rizwan Sohail of the Mayo Clinic. Of course, given the rapid developments, the data could be a little out of date, but it is a useful summary and good reference to keep on hand.
  • The daughter of one of our colleagues discovered this short video gem by an "Indian Restaurateur & Chocolatier" on the correct technique to wash your hands for proper disinfection.
  • And a cartoonist in New Zealand visualized what it means to "break the chain," which may be easier to understand than the efforts to "flatten the curve" and explains why it is essential to stay at home. (Here is the original animation.)

Finally, there is an emerging blood shortage, now that the American Red Cross has canceled its blood drives. To make sure that inventories will not dip below critical levels, HUP is sponsoring blood drives over the next three Mondays: today, on March 30, and on April 6, in the Perelman Center of Advanced Medicine, 1st Floor Lobby, from 7 AM to 5 PM. Please be aware that conducting blood drives is an ARC-, CDC-, and FDA-designated "essential activity," which is not in conflict with social distancing recommendations.

This is definitely one thing you can do to help while you are on the Penn Medicine premises.

Please continue to take care of yourselves and each other.

David Roth
Chair, Pathology & Laboratory Medicine