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14
May
2020

Meet My Friend Who Supported Trump in 2016

[This week, I’m re-publishing this column written Nov. 9, 2016. It’s probably more important to read now.—Luke] I’ve been dreading this moment since June. That’s when I started telling people: Trump was going to win. I could feel it in my bones, because of where I’m from. We’ve heard enough by now that the elites have let us down. The...
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13
May
2020

Coronavirus Vaccine Strategy: Larry Corey on The Long Run

Today’s guest on The Long Run is Larry Corey. Larry is one of the nation’s best-known virologists and vaccine developers. Much of his research over the years has been on HIV, herpes simplex viruses, and viruses associated with cancer. He’s the founding director and principal investigator of the HIV Vaccine Trials Network – a collaborative group to study vaccine candidates...
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13
May
2020

If Trikafta Isn’t Good Enough for ICER, What Drug Is?

Last week ICER released a report concluding that Vertex’s groundbreaking triple-combination cystic fibrosis (CF) drug, Trikafta, is too expensive for the value it provides to patients. By all scientific and clinical standards—including ICER’s own—Trikafta, a novel combination of a CFTR potentiator and two correctors, is a transformative drug. It compensates for a mutation present in 90% of all CF patients, turning a disease...
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11
May
2020

Science in Plain English for the Pandemic

Art Krieg is one of the leaders in the field of oligonucleotide drug discovery, going back to the 1980s. Today, he’s the founder and chief scientific officer of Cambridge, Mass.-based Checkmate Pharmaceuticals, a cancer immunotherapy company. It’s his job to explain scientific concepts to a variety of professional audiences. But he leveraged that skill recently to do an interesting thing...
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7
May
2020

Keeping the Faith and Bracing for the Long Slog

We’re suffering from a social disease. It ranks up there with COVID-19. It’s boundless cynicism. We need to tamp this down. Just like we need to wrestle the new coronavirus to the ground. I’m not willing to accept “shit happens” as the national motto. This is a country of can-do problem-solvers. We can do so much better. You can see...
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7
May
2020

Randomized Controlled Trials For Healthcare Delivery Work; Now Let’s Do More At Scale

The value of randomized controlled trials (RCTs) in healthcare delivery was highlighted earlier this year with the publication in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM) of a paper that rigorously evaluated a deeply appealing hypothesis: that you can improve care and reduce costs by focusing on “superutilizers” – the patients who consume the most healthcare resources.  I discussed this...
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5
May
2020

Giving Models and Modelers a Bad Name

As someone who has spent a career building and studying disease models, primarily for cancer, the latest update from Chris Murray and the IHME model makes me cringe. The IHME model, readers will recall, has been frequently cited by the White House coronavirus task force. On May 4, the IHME called a press conference to release the results of their...
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5
May
2020

The Spirit of Giving Is More Powerful Than Ever

When people look back on the pandemic, they will be amazed by the outpouring of generosity. The response from frontline healthcare workers, scientists, and the biopharmaceutical industry is simply extraordinary. Food banks and social services are also saving lives. The common thread is the inherently human capacity to be generous. The word philanthropy brings to mind a variety of images,...
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4
May
2020

If We’re Smart, COVID19 Will Strengthen Our Defense Against Drug-Resistant Bugs

The COVID-19 pandemic makes it clear that infectious diseases can devastate the world with remarkable speed. But long before this crisis, we were fighting another infectious scourge below most people’s radar – antimicrobial resistance. One estimate by the CDC in 2013 found that 2 million people in the US get infected with drug-resistant bacteria, leading to a huge toll of...
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1
May
2020

A Time for Empathy

This is a fragile moment. It’s May 1. Some of us have been in social isolation for two solid months. Everyone’s at some point on the continuum of stir crazy. More than 30 million people are out of work. Tempers are flaring. Protestors are carrying guns. It’s obvious we can’t sustain a maximalist social-distancing policy much longer. Today, we have...
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28
Apr
2020

Keeping an Academic Lab Afloat in a Pandemic

Two months ago, our lab at Fred Hutch was on a roll. After six years of hard work building technology platforms to discover protein drugs — infrastructure that few academic labs have — we were beginning to reap the rewards. Our team had grown to 36 people. Morale was high. A slew of our papers were accepted to high-impact journals....
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28
Apr
2020

We Didn’t Become the World Biotech Leader By Sealing Ourselves Off

In the last four years, the U.S. administration has committed an endless string of hostile and indecent acts toward immigrants. There was the border wall pledge. The Muslim travel ban. Increased screening and tight limits on refugees seeking asylum from war-torn regions. Most insufferable of all, we all witnessed the horrifying conditions faced by children, taken from their families, and...
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27
Apr
2020

Capturing Family History, While We Have Time

COVID-19 is threatening our families’ present and future. That much is clear. What may be less clear is that it’s also taking a toll on our past. Because of the pandemic’s disproportionate impact on our elderly, we are at risk of losing important connections to our family histories. How many of us have thought they should ask their parents about...
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24
Apr
2020

A Sad Week of Reckless Leadership

The first US death from COVID-19 was reported on Feb. 29. Today, Apr. 24, the US death toll exceeds 50,000. That’s more than Italy and Spain combined. Even though we had early warning. It’s tragic. There’s also a reason why the death toll hasn’t been higher. It’s because of large-scale physical distancing in this expansive country of 330 million people....
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