A Note of Thanks


Dear Colleagues:

Last week was a true test of and testament to our strength and resilience – not only as a University, but as a nation, and we begin this week with a new reality starting to settle in.  We have all been impacted by COVID-19 and the policies and guidelines put in place to support critical missions and safeguard our community.  And through all this, I have never been more proud to be your colleague.

I have received countless calls and emails from across campus – students, trainees, faculty, staff, alumni – asking how you can help. Last week we sent a call for personal protective equipment (PPE), and immediately, we were flooded with donations.  Discussions were spurred around innovative ideas on how we can produce our own PPE, including 3D printing face shields to keep workers safer.  Similarly, people began signing up immediately for a desperately needed blood drive sponsored by the Health System and the American Red Cross.

In a matter of days, the new Penn Center for Research on Coronavirus and Other Emerging Pathogens was created to expand and accelerate SARS-CoV-2 research at Penn, CHOP, and Wistar.  We are currently screening libraries of FDA approved drugs for activity against coronaviruses and starting multiple clinical trials.  Vaccines are being explored in various labs.  Colleagues at the Center for Health Care Innovation are developing designs to automate and facilitate reach to patients who cannot rely on traditional methods of communication. 

I am incredibly inspired by and grateful for the generosity, compassion, and resilience of our community.

As we enter a new stage of this pandemic – accepting the gravity of the situation and adjusting to a different way of life – I want to highlight a few opportunities for support and resources:

  • Expand your skills via online training, such as leadership programs offered by the Office of Organizational Effectiveness.  Options from various PSOM offices will be posted here.  Our trainees are creating and organizing workshops to support one another, such as this tutorial on imaging.  A number of applications for funding opportunities are being extended, such as the NEMO prize through Penn Health Tech. 
  • Sharpen your scientific acumen through options such as coding via Datacamp; learn a new skill, such as playing a musical instrument, and find a virtual instructor using Thumbtack.
  • Volunteer your time online:  A member of the BGS community shared this program – Skype a Scientist – which matches scientists with classrooms around the world.
  • Make time for your personal wellness: during this challenging time, it is especially important to prioritize self-care and reduce anxiety-driven behaviors. See recent PennToday article on five tips to stay positive and healthy during social isolation.
  • Practicedistant socializing,” a new concept of staying connected while being apart.
  • Stay connected, not only with your lab or your class, but also with your family, both near and far.  Take good care of yourself and each other.

In closing, on Friday I tweeted a powerful image which resonated deeply throughout our community.  It is a tribute to every one of you at Penn Medicine – from our healthcare workers on the front lines to those who support us in public safety & security, housekeeping & sanitation, technology, animal care, transportation & delivery, facilities & maintenance, food service – all of you are making sacrifices so that we can continue to serve our patients through your tireless work in the clinics and in the labs.  You have my deepest gratitude.

We will emerge from this historic time as an even stronger and more inspired community.

With my very best wishes,


Jon Epstein, MD