2020 will forever be remembered as the year a virus abruptly forced us to retreat into virtual work and school; shuttered sports, dining and cultural events; canceled family gatherings—and caused tragic sadness and loss in many of our families and around the world.
We believe 2020 was also the year we responded with urgency to address the COVID-19 crisis and, in doing so, we are better prepared to preempt future pandemics. Despite great challenges, science led the way, and the FNIH played a pivotal role.
As the virus spread from country to country, household to household, at the behest of the National Institutes of Health, we assembled a public-private partnership of some of the most brilliant minds in biomedical research. This partnership—Accelerating COVID-19 Therapeutic Interventions and Vaccines (ACTIV)—deployed with record-setting speed an historic collaboration among eight federal agencies, 20 pharmaceutical companies and four not-for-profit organizations to research successful therapeutics and vet promising vaccines.
Bridging gaps and creating powerful partnerships that achieve groundbreaking scientific results is what the FNIH does best. While we addressed the pandemic with great speed and impact, we maintained our strong focus on research in existing programs. And, we launched four trailblazing new initiatives: one aimed at eradicating malaria by advancing the safe and responsible exploration of genetic biocontrol technologies that could one day stop mosquitoes from spreading this deadly disease; one supporting a large international trial to examine whether an affordable, accessible medication could save the lives of hundreds of thousands of newborns and their mothers; and two researching solutions for Alzheimer’s disease and schizophrenia.
Each of these is an example of science leading the way to overcome one of humanity’s most pressing biomedical challenges.
Responding to the crises of 2020 has made the FNIH and its partners stronger and more resilient. It increased our capacity to harness diverse ideas, talents and capabilities and refocused us on our promise to deliver concrete, tangible results for our donors, our partners, the NIH and the people we serve.
Yes, it was a dark, difficult year. But one lesson is clear and bright. When we work together and we let science lead the way, we make progress in even the most challenging circumstances.