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Director’s Album

Building Confidence in COVID-19 Vaccines

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It was my pleasure to be a panelist during a recent virtual forum titled “Building Vaccine Confidence: Best Practices to Combat Misinformation and Vaccine Hesitancy in COVID-19 Vaccines.” The forum took place during the American Association for Cancer Research’s Annual Meeting 2021, which had more than 13,500 registrants. This screenshot shows the panel getting ready for our informative discussion on building confidence in the COVID-19 vaccines. The panelists are (from top l-r): Gilbert S. Omenn (co-moderator), University of Michigan, Ann Arbor; Antoni Ribas (co-moderator), University of California Los Angeles; yours truly Francis Collins; E. John Wherry, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Grace Cordovano, Enlightening Results, LLC, West Caldwell, NJ; Lisa Richardson, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Atlanta; Liz Hamel, Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, San Francisco; Lee Greenberger, Leukemia & Lymphoma Society, Rye Brook, NY; and Mary Gullatte, EMORY Healthcare, Atlanta. The forum took place on April 14, 2021.

Here Comes the Sun

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On April 8, I sent a coronavirus update to NIH staff titled “Gratitude for All You Do.” The update included a link to this video, and these words:

No one will deny that this last year has been a struggle for all of us. But now, because of your contributions, we have real reason for hope. As I’ve been known to do, I’ve turned to music to share my gratitude for all you do. This song is a different take on George Harrison’s “Here Comes the Sun” made famous by the Beatles. As with all things, I had the help of many talented people in the creation of this music video: Carrie Wolinetz, who “COVIDized” the song lyrics; my wife Diane, who I heavily rely on for her videography skills (and most other things in life); Wole Akinso, who produced and mixed the video so that I could play both guitar and piano; and my cat Zoe, who in typical cat fashion, made a cameo appearance. I never thought I’d sing a song that has the words “herd immunity” in it, but here we are. I hope this version of the song puts a smile on your faces.

I wish the same for all who watch this video. It’s been a long, dark COVID winter.

Sharing Message of Hope on CBS Sunday Morning

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For Easter Sunday, I shared a message of hope with viewers of CBS Sunday Morning. My message: We are at a “love your neighbor” moment with the COVID-19 pandemic, a time when Americans can get vaccinated to help protect others from severe illness and death. The vaccines are a gift to all of us. Do your part. Unwrap the gift, roll up your sleeve, and save lives.

Boldly Going Where No Science Has Gone Before

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It was an amazing experience to touch base once again with Kate Rubins, a NASA astronaut aboard the International Space Station. Connecting via live downlink on March 26, 2021, we discussed how space-based research can enable valuable biomedical advances on our planet. For example, over the past five years, NIH’s National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences has funded a series of tissue chip payloads that have launched to the orbiting laboratory. Rubins, who is a biologist and infectious disease expert, has facilitated three of these projects: Cardinal Heart from Stanford University, Electrical Stimulation of Human Myocytes in Microgravity from the University of Florida, and Cartilage-Bone-Synovium from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.

First Anniversary of NIH’s COVID-19 Testing Car Line

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I joined approximately 80 volunteers to mark the one-year anniversary of NIH’s COVID-19 Testing Car Line. The event was held at NIH’s Gateway entrance on March 17. Pictured here with me are some of the awesome volunteers, from various NIH institutes, centers, and offices, who have helped out in many ways and at many times throughout the year to test staff who report symptoms of COVID-19. Here are some fun facts from the line: First tests performed: March 18, 2020; Coldest Day: 25 degrees on January 29, 2021; Hottest Day: 99 degrees on July 20, 2020; Distinct Staff Tested: 5,291; Total Samples Taken: 7,797; Total Carline Positives: 502. Credit: NIH

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