July 1, 2021
It has been 15 months since my last message in April 2020, in which I focused on what became the most critical pandemic since 1918. Since January 2020 more than 33 million people had contracted SARS-CoV-2 in the US; globally, by the end of June 2021, nearly 180 million people have been infected. Covid-19 has had a profound impact on all aspects of our personal and professional lives, and yet we have rallied to overcome this tremendous difficulty as we now begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel. The SARS-CoV-2 vaccines have been developed and implemented with unprecedented speed, thus facilitating the continuous decline of Covid-19 around the world. Although it is still a long way to have all vaccinated, we are now on solid ground to manage the pandemic and transit into a more normal life and work environment here in the States.
As history chronicles its course, what we do today to meet this challenge also becomes part of that journey. The Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine has contributed its effort in the battle against Covid-19. Almost at the very outset of the pandemic, our Department led the effort to bring a commercial test to the Tulane Medical Center and implemented a EUA test in the Molecular Diagnostics Laboratory (MDL) of our Department. In particular, the testing facility in our Department has significantly improved our diagnostic and screening capacity for the needs inside and outside the Tulane community. Since April 1st, 2020, the MDL has performed nearly 400,000 Covid-19 tests, facilitating the continuous operation of the University’s core activities including those vital to the research and education mission of the University. The successful implementation of the testing program would not be possible without the collaboration among the many members of our community and the strong engagement and support from the leadership. The Faculty of our Department has also actively participated in multiple Covid-19 related research projects with internal and external collaborators, and their results have been published in high impact journals.
Throughout the course, the vision we have for the Department has not changed, nor has the commitment to our patients, trainees and members. Despite the pandemic, our academic and clinical activities have not waned. We have continued our education programs through on-line platforms, recruited new residents, fellows, and graduate students for the new academic year. Our innovative curriculum in both science-oriented and PA-oriented programs continue to enrich the experience of the trainees during their time in our Department. Our research program has expanded with the joining of five new faculty members to the Department. Our research funding has significantly increased with efforts that can be attributed to all our faculty members. We have also resumed the recruitment of clinical faculty after the decline in the last several years. The arrival of four new clinical faculty in July and August of this year will enhance our clinical capacity, improve resident education and promote the scholastic productivity of faculty and trainees.
The past year’s extraordinary difficulty has not defeated us. In contrast, we have transformed the challenge into opportunities to develop our strength in the diagnostic field; reposition ourselves in clinical services; absorb research talents and expand our education programs. My confidence and faith that the journey in the coming years will make us stronger and better through new initiatives, programs, and services continues without fail.
Xiao-Ming Yin, MD, PhD, FAASLD, FCAP
Dr. Donald R. Pulitzer and Donna G. Pulitzer Professor and Chair
Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine