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MIT staff blogger Chris Peterson SM '13

Public MIT panel on the science behind vaccines, and ending the evolving pandemic by Chris Peterson SM '13

A few days ago, President Reif emailed the MIT community to announce a webinar on the science of vaccines, and the role they will play in fighting the pandemic. The webinar is open to the public, and will be hosted here on Thursday, April 8th, at 4PM; a recording will be made available shortly thereafter at the same link. Because I know a lot of our readers are interested in science writ large, I wanted to boost this event so more people could tune in.

Below is the email from President Reif describing the event. Alert readers may notice that one of the speakers is former admissions blogger Bryan B. ’07, now a professor at MIT. You should read a recent convo he had with Afeefah K. ’21, who is his advisee, in her post here.

As the nation’s vaccine rollout gains momentum, we have reason to hope that a return to something more like our normal lives may be within reach – even as we grapple with the emergence of new viral variants.

To learn how an extraordinary collaboration across research disciplines, government and industry brought us to this pivotal moment – and where we go from here – I invite you to be a part of COVID-19: Vaccines and prospects for ending the evolving pandemic, an Institute-wide webinar on Thursday, April 8, presented by members of the Ragon Institute of Massachusetts General Hospital, MIT and Harvard. Zoom details are included below.

Bruce Walker, founding director of the Ragon Institute, will host the webinar with colleagues:

* Galit Alter, a key player in determining the ability of COVID-19 vaccines to elicit protective immune responses

* Dan Barouch, who was instrumental in developing the Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine

* Bryan Bryson, who has collaboratively applied MIT machine learning algorithms developed for language to predict SARS-CoV-2 mutation and evolution

The speakers will explore the following topics:

* Why viruses pose such a threat to humanity

* How vaccines are designed

* What the new variants mean in terms of ending the pandemic

* What we can do now to prevent future pandemics

After their presentations, Bruce, Galit, Dan and Bryan will take questions from our community. They will be joined by MIT Medical Director Cecilia Stuopis, who can answer questions about MIT’s vaccine planning.

I hope you will mark your calendars for this timely, informative and important discussion.


L. Rafael Reif