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Name of Media:

Treating coronavirus is brutal. But our hunt for better medicine keeps us going


E. Wesley Ely

Publisher or Source:

Washington Post

Type of Media:

Newspaper Article

Media Originally for:

General Public

Country of Origin:

United States of America (the)

Primary Focus of Media:

Post Intensive Care Syndrome (PICS)

COVID-19 Related:



“Mrs. Croft, I truly regret that I’m calling you about a covid-19 research program only an hour after your husband, John, died of his coronavirus infection. None of us know what you are feeling, and we want you to know how immensely sorry we are for all that you and your family are going through. It’s just that the whole world is trying to grapple with this pandemic, and we are trying to understand what the virus is doing to the brain, since so many people are presenting with an inability to smell, confusion and strokes. I am calling to see if you might consider a priceless gift to the world so we can learn and hopefully help others: We are studying the brain in those who die of covid, and I’d like to talk with you about the possibility of donating John’s brain to our NIH-funded scientific research program.”
As a physician-scientist, I have spent 30 years at the bedside of my patients and their families. There is no place I’d rather be, but I wouldn’t have stayed here for so long without the research part. Alongside 90 others in Vanderbilt’s Critical Illness, Brain Dysfunction and Survivorship (CIBS) Center, I now study covid-19, the disease caused by the novel coronavirus. The pandemic is different: tough, inspiring and exasperating all at once. Answering questions to help reduce human suffering is what we do. Attempts to flatten the curve have shuttered our existing projects and catapulted us into new work and international collaborations in what seemed like one day. And then almost as quickly this month, we were immersed in disparities. The pandemic has amplified elements of the everyday disadvantages that millions face, and it’s obvious to all of us that it’s not fair or just.

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