President’s Letter from Dr. C. Buddy Creech – February Symmetry

I really like February. I like the symmetry of precisely 4 crisp weeks. I like that February 1 and March 1 are always on the same day of the week.

And I like that every 4 years there’s a curveball, an extra day just thrown in there like it’s totally normal to have an agreed upon measurement of time that has an additional amount in it based on whether the year is divisible by four.

In honor of February being the shortest month, I aim for this to be the shortest president’s letter thus far. I want to make sure you’re aware of four things our Society has undertaken recently that fall into PIDS’ four strategic areas of Identity, Inclusion, Impact, and Innovation:

  1. SUMMERS Program (Inclusion and Impact): This is a great opportunity for undergraduates and medical/graduate students to participate in pediatric ID research, case conferences, hospital rounds, and other educational activities. This award will be competitive, and we hope to grow it over time to offer more of these positions in years to follow. The early application deadline is March 7; final deadline is March 21.
  2. Post-COVID Neurologic Symptoms (Identity and Impact): You may have seen a recent EIN post by Dr. Patricia Whitley-Williams regarding encephalopathy post-COVID. While we have become accustomed to seeing neurologic symptoms in patients with COVID and in those with MIS-C, there appear to be a substantial number of children with more ‘traditional’ post-viral encephalopathy that includes ataxia, seizures, and altered mental status soon after resolution of initial COVID-19 symptoms. The PIDS Clinical Affairs Committee, Dr. Whitley-Williams, and I are working with Dr. Angie Campbell and her team at CDC to interrogate these cases more comprehensively.
  3. Fellowship Awards (Impact and Innovation):  This is the time of year when many of our first- and second-year fellows are submitting grant applications for fellowship funding. Be reminded that due to the ongoing generosity of St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, Stanley and Susan Plotkin, Sanofi Pasteur, the National CMV Foundation, and others over the years, we have several competitive fellowships available for our trainees. Applications for these awards are due April 1.
  4. PIDS wants to fund innovative research (Innovation): The Pichichero Family Foundation continues to fund innovate research that aims to improve or develop vaccines and immunotherapeutics for children. Research that contributes to our understanding of vaccine preventable diseases, host-pathogen interaction, and the immune response to infection or vaccination will also be considered for funding. Applications are as easy as sending your recently reviewed, but near-miss grant application (along with your score and comments) to PIDS for consideration of funding. Multiple awards are available on a rolling basis each year.

See that? Four things to remember. One for each week of February.

We look forward to getting together (virtually) in March for the St. Jude/PIDS Conference. Please make sure this is reserved on your calendar, and please ensure that your fellows have protected time to attend.

Hopefully, we will be able to gather in person at the Pediatric Academic Societies Meeting in Denver in April 2022.

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