Cartherics answers the coronavirus call

By Leigh Dayton, Cartherics Communications Advisor

The global COVID-19 pandemic affects all Australians, their friends and family, at home and abroad. It is having a profound and enduring impact on our society, our resilience and our health.

So, when the President of the Australian Academy of Science (AAS), John Shine, called upon researchers from a broad range of fields to participate in a national COVID-19 Expert Database, Cartherics’ Chief Scientific Officer Richard Boyd and Non-Executive Director Bryan Williams signed-up.

Cartherics’ CEO Alan Trounson thanks them for their effort. “All of us at Cartherics are eager to help manage this disease and are delighted Richard and Bryan have volunteered to participate,” he says. “A vaccine is not a given, so it is important that decision-makers and the media can turn to a body of experts for innovative ideas.”

Boyd and Williams have added their scientific expertise to just such a resource. The COVID-19 Expert Database is designed to be a national source used by decision-makers, including governments, parliamentarians, the federal and state and territory medical officers and chief scientists across Australia, along with the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee and the National COVID-19 Coordination Committee. It is also available to the research and business sectors and the media.

As Shine noted, given the speed and spread of the pandemic, decision-makers need rapid access to the expertise they require to make the best possible decisions. “This includes consulting with experts in science, technology, engineering, mathematics, health, humanities, arts, and social science,” he said.

Boyd agrees. As a Professor with Monash University and Co-Director of the Australia-China Centre for Excellence in Stem Cells, Boyd sees the value of tapping into a broad scientific network for fresh ideas.

“Critical trials for vaccines and potential therapies are happening a ferocious pace,” he says. “Biggest risk is premature results come out and people get false hopes. We need as many different perspectives as possible to interpret approaches and data”.

That is in good part why Williams an AAS Fellow, Fellow of the American Academy of Microbiology and Emeritus Director of the Hudson Institute decided to register on the database. Like Boyd, he is in regular contact with colleagues overseas, in his case the Cleveland Clinic, a non-profit academic medical centre in Ohio. He is also an Editor of the Journal of Virology. These connections means Williams is aware of diverse projects, clinical trials and ideas.

“I thought if I had that type of information, a lot of my colleagues in Australia would have complimentary information, so it was important to sign up with the database”, explains Williams who lists innate immunity and coronavirus/COVID-19 expertise on the database.

Boyd lists his area of expertise as immunology/vaccinology. He is passionate about supporting the database and the experts tackling the deadly, ever-changing disease.

“COVID-19 is a classic example of the world having no in-house approach to stopping it. We’re immunologically naked,” Boyd claims. “The work is driven by unmet demand, an unmet demand we must meet.”