What Are Examples of Pivoting Research Priorities in Response to Emerging Infectious Diseases?


    What Are Examples of Pivoting Research Priorities in Response to Emerging Infectious Diseases?

    In the face of emergent infectious diseases, researchers are often required to swiftly alter their investigative course, as a Principal Research Scientist illustrates with their shift to COVID-19 community research. Alongside expert perspectives, we've gathered additional answers that delve into various aspects of such pivotal moments in scientific inquiry. From the urgent redirection to vaccine development to the encouragement of cross-disciplinary collaboration, this article explores the dynamic responses to pressing public health threats.

    • Pivoted to COVID-19 Community Research
    • Redirected Efforts to Vaccine Development
    • Focused on Antiviral Drug Resistance
    • Studied Zoonotic Disease Transmission
    • Expanded Biosurveillance for Outbreaks
    • Encouraged Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration

    Pivoted to COVID-19 Community Research

    When the COVID-19 pandemic hit, our team went all hands on deck to help our local community. We immediately paused our ongoing research and pivoted to COVID-19. We then partnered with local clinics and agencies to help generate weekly reports of positive tests, hospitalizations, and mortality rates in southern Minnesota. Because of our interest in cardiovascular diseases, we also conducted research on the effects of acute myocardial infarctions and revascularizations in the community during the COVID-19 lockdowns. It took about two years after the start of the pandemic for our team to completely get back to our prior research projects.

    Lopes GS, Manemann SM, Weston SA, Jiang R, Larson NB, Moser ED, Roger VL, Takahashi PY, Sandoval Y, Bell MR, Chamberlain AM. Minnesota COVID-19 Lockdowns: The Effect on Acute Myocardial Infarctions and Revascularizations in the Community. Mayo Clinic Proceedings: Innovations, Quality & Outcomes. 2022 Feb 1;6(1):77-85.

    Gui Lopes
    Gui LopesPrincipal Research Scientist, Premier Inc.

    Redirected Efforts to Vaccine Development

    In the face of an emerging infectious disease, research institutions may decide to redirect their efforts towards the creation of new vaccines. This involves not only the conceptualization and design of the vaccine but also the urgent mobilization of resources to support clinical trials. The acceleration of this process is crucial to provide a timely response and to mitigate the spread of the disease.

    Such shifts in focus are often accompanied by increased funding and collaborations across various sectors, emphasizing the dire need for an efficient intervention. Consider advocating for increased support for these pivotal vaccine development programs.

    Focused on Antiviral Drug Resistance

    When a new infectious disease surfaces, one critical response is to boost research on how quickly these pathogens can develop resistance to existing antiviral drugs. Understanding drug resistance patterns becomes paramount to effectively treating the infected population and containing the disease spread. Researchers might need to develop novel methodologies or enhance existing techniques to predict and counteract resistance mechanisms.

    The outcomes of these studies are vital for healthcare providers in prescribing the most effective treatments. Join the conversation on the importance of antiviral resistance research and its vital role in healthcare.

    Studied Zoonotic Disease Transmission

    A crucial aspect of responding to emerging infectious diseases is investigating how diseases from animals can transfer to humans, known as zoonotic transmission. To this end, scientists may concentrate their studies on identifying and mitigating the risks associated with animal-to-human disease transmission. This research is often spearheaded by veterinarians and wildlife biologists who work in conjunction with public health officials.

    By uncovering how diseases jump between species, these efforts can lead to the development of better prevention strategies. We should support initiatives that aim to block the path of diseases from animals to humans.

    Expanded Biosurveillance for Outbreaks

    With new infectious diseases, it’s important to not only respond to current threats but also anticipate future outbreaks. To achieve this, expanding biosurveillance is key, which means using technology and data analysis to detect early signs of an outbreak. This can help governments and public health organizations act quickly to contain and manage infectious diseases before they become widespread.

    Biosurveillance relies on a network of information gathering and sharing. Engage with your community and health officials to understand the role of biosurveillance and its benefits for public safety.

    Encouraged Cross-Disciplinary Collaboration

    The emergence of a new infectious disease often requires cross-disciplinary collaboration to understand and respond effectively. Scientists, public health officials, and policymakers may join forces, creating a global network of expertise and resources. This interdisciplinary approach allows for a multifaceted response, combining research, education, and preventative measures to tackle the disease.

    Diverse perspectives lead to innovation and more comprehensive strategies in addressing public health challenges. Encourage collaborative efforts in your own community to strengthen global health initiatives.