Dear Members of the McGill Community,
I know that this message is reaching most of you in your homes, where you’re struggling to maintain a semblance of normal life while remaining safe and healthy. As we face the extraordinary challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic, I want to acknowledge the exceptional efforts and creativity of our community, working to continue the activities of the University. McGill is fortunate to have such a committed and engaged team of individuals, who are striving to preserve our core missions.
We are also fortunate to have the generous support of benefactors, who have allowed us to recently announce a boost in funding of more than $4.1 million to the McGill Interdisciplinary Initiative in Infection and Immunity (MI4) through gifts to the McGill University Health Centre Foundation and McGill’s Faculty of Medicine. MI4 brings together a network of more than 250 clinicians and researchers across McGill, the MUHC and beyond. It is one of the largest such groups in the world focused on infectious and immune-mediated diseases. With dedicated funding, MI4 has begun to mobilize efforts across our campuses to combat COVID-19.
Among MI4’s COVID-19 initiatives, some are making a difference on the ground right now. For example, Dr. Benjamin Smith in the Department of Medicine is investigating a form of testing that is aimed at getting health care workers out of isolation sooner. In the Department of Biochemistry, Professor Martin Schmeing, Canada Research Chair in Macromolecular Machines, is working to produce molecular enzymes to increase our capacity to test for COVID-19. We also have clinicians and researchers teaming up to look into ways to decontaminate and extend the use of the masks and other pieces of protective personal equipment that keep our frontline health care workers safe. Other projects are focused on more definitive approaches to COVID-19, including the development of drug therapies.
I know first-hand how driven the McGill research community is to help solve the COVID-19 crisis. Together, at McGill and with our hospital partners, we are working hard at doing our part to improve care for COVID-19 patients, while contributing to the work aimed at developing effective therapies and, eventually, a vaccine.
This pandemic will end but we’re looking at a struggle measured in months. To ensure that we have sufficient capacity to care for those who become ill, we can all make an important contribution by adhering to physical distancing and other precautions. We must continue to observe public health guidelines carefully and keep ourselves, our loved ones and our communities as safe as we possibly can.
With my warmest regards,
Vice-Principal (Health Affairs)
Dean of the Faculty of Medicine
April 22 2020