Saving Lives Across the Globe

Dr. Barouch at his deskVaccinations are now underway globally—thanks in part to the J&J vaccine, which was developed in collaboration with Barouch and his team at BIDMC. It’s hard to imagine that annual lab retreat was less than two years ago, and the words “COVID-19” and “social distancing” were not yet spoken in every conversation. “The work of the Barouch lab is a remarkable bench-to-bedside story,” says Mark Zeidel, MD, chair of the Department of Medicine. “It not only resulted in the development of a vaccine, but also provided key scientific underpinnings for the field. This work epitomizes what physician–scientists do.”

Today, as the world grapples with the ongoing COVID-19 crisis and its catastrophic effects, there is much work left to do. The Barouch team is hard at work investigating pathogens and variants, improving our understanding of immune response, and developing tools that will allow us to create vaccines for multiple potential future threats. Their goal will always remain the same: to save lives across the globe—and prevent and mitigate the medical, social, and economic devastation wrought by a pandemic.

Thanks to the unwavering dedication of Barouch and his extraordinary team, the global scientific community, and the visionary philanthropists who’ve supported their work for decades, there is much to be grateful—and hopeful—for. “What a remarkable journey,” says Nkolola, who oversees a portion of the Barouch lab. “It’s been humbling, challenging, and fulfilling to collaborate with this incredible team and with partners around the world to make an impact.” Stephenson, too, felt a profound sense of hope, accomplishment, and joy when she saw images of healthcare workers in rural South Africa receiving the J&J vaccine in mid-February. “I have never, ever experienced a feeling like that before,” says Stephenson. “All the hard work we did, it was all worth it.” For Barouch, similarly, it’s been rewarding to see the vaccine’s impact across the globe—and also right here at home. In March, his daughter was thrilled to finally meet her 8th grade teacher in person for the first time after nearly a year of remote learning—two weeks after her teacher received the J&J vaccine. “The personal stories of how the vaccine is making a difference in people’s lives are so meaningful,” says Barouch.

Though in many ways it is the achievement of a lifetime, the Barouch team’s groundbreaking preclinical work on the J&J vaccine is only the beginning. Visionary philanthropy has been central to their success, and is critical to maintaining their vital efforts as we begin to look ahead to a future that—thanks to science and the irrepressible commitment of this BIDMC-based group—is beginning to look brighter.

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