A Full Cycle

We have now completed a full cycle of virtual CTSA Program meetings where we had the opportunity to share each other’s presence – from a healthy and safe distance.  Remarkably, during such a challenging year, we have managed to remain engaged and maintain quality and participation in our meetings under these “new normal” virtual gatherings.

Summarizing a meeting with so many highlights is no easy task, and this short blog cannot cover the depth, breadth of discussions that took place last month including the more than 12 hours of meeting time, saved in over 7,000 Megabytes (7 GB) of presentations.

First, with almost 800 registered and virtual sessions holding ~250 to ~500 participants, it was key to develop an agenda, presentations and interactive breakout sessions to maintain the right level of engagement and enthusiasm while keeping us wanting – to listen and contribute – more. Based on the informal feedback received thus far, as well as on the activities that followed, we appear to have been successful!

Accomplishing this required a coordinated effort and I would like to thank CLIC, CD2H, TIN, our CTSA Steering Committee, and NCATS Staff for taking out time from already extra busy pandemic schedules to assist in the preparation, coordination and successful launch of our Fall Program gathering. Thankfully, we were also spared from unwanted intrusions or so called “zoombombings” and shared real-time our thoughts through direct participation and through the live chat function.

Discussion of key topics included NCATS approach and involvement in several COVID-19 programs and activities.  For example, our response to the pandemic through Operation Warp Speed, which highlights our Consortium readiness in the implementation of critical multi-site COVID-19 clinical trials such as ACTIV-1CONTAIN and PassItOnII. Another example was our response to current gaps in COVID-19 information and collection of Real-World Data through N3C and CARES Act support.

In addition, we discussed our efforts to enhance community engagement and diversity in existing and future studies and programs through RADx-UP and CEAL. Most notably, we continue to address how to tackle, head on, the issue of diversity and inclusion in our CTSA Program and Training initiatives, as a key element of current and future Program growth and strategies to meaningfully address this issue.

COVID has brought significant challenges to all of us and our institutions.  Not even the most pessimistic person could have predicted last year that we would be where we are today – facing the most devastating global pandemic of the last 100 years. We at NCATS are very thankful for your efforts, your dedication, your resilience, and your ability to adapt, innovate and find solutions during this pandemic.

As Dr. Chris Austin mentioned last month in his opening remarks, “we all have a role in shaping this Program.” Together we can continue finding solutions to the most pressing need of our time and be ready for what lies ahead in the future.

Happy, healthy, and hopeful Holidays to all!

Stay positive and test negative!

I am made and remade continually.

Different people draw different words from me.

– Virginia Woolf