March 26, 2021

President’s Letter from Dr. Kris Bryant

We all look forward to March. For some, it’s all about basketball and March Madness. For others, it is about the first day of spring and the promise of better weather. In Kentucky, where I live, that can mean daffodils blooming in the yard one day and a random snowstorm the next. For me, one of the best things about March is the St. Jude/PIDS Pediatric Infectious Diseases Research Conference. While I missed the road trip to Memphis with my fellows and the opportunity to gather and learn with friends in person, the scientific presentations at this year’s meeting were spectacular. More than 1000 people joined the 20th annual meeting held virtually March 3-6. I am incredibly grateful to Dr. Elaine Tuomanen and colleagues at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital for their ongoing support of this meeting. Additionally, Dr. Buddy Creech, PIDS President-elect, deserves a round of applause for his leadership of this meeting. Last but certainly not least, Dr. Hayley Gans, Dr. Tanvi Sharma, and Dr. Elizabeth Schlaudecker deserve recognition for their extraordinary work and dedication in co-organizing the meeting.

March also marks the official end of the first year of the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic… and the beginning of the second. Clearly, it is not over, even as some states begin to lift mask mandates and promote a return to “normal.” There are definitely a few bright spots around the country for pediatricians. More kids are returning to the classrooms. Some states are expanding COVID-19 vaccine eligibility to all individuals, 16 and older, and vaccine trials have begun in children as young as 6 months of age. Children < 18 years comprise 22% of the population, and it seems unlikely that we’ll see a real end to the pandemic until we have vaccines for all. Do you follow @AnnChahroudi on Twitter? She posted a really useful table of all completed, ongoing and planned studies of COVID-19 vaccines in children.

As I’m sure you also know, March is Women’s History Month. Before the month is over, I invite each of you to think about women in our field who have inspired you and send them a note. For me, the first woman who comes to mind is Dr. Denise Bratcher. I met her when I was a 4th-year medical student. She is the reason I decided to pursue a career in peds ID and healthcare epidemiology. Denise currently holds the Sydney F. Pakula Endowed Chair in Medical Education at Children’s Mercy Hospital (CMH) in Kansas City, and is the first female physician to receive an Endowed Chair there. For a decade, she served as the pediatric residency program at CMH. Cleary, she has inspired many others along the way. Please consider posting stories about women who inspire you in PIDS Connect.


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