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Harvard Medical School Media Immersion: Boston, 8 - 9 June 2023


17 Apr 2023

Harvard Medical School Media Immersion: Boston, June 8-9, 2023 | Harvard Medical School

AFTER COVID: Preparing for the pathogens of tomorrow

Application Deadline: March 31 Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Consortium on Pathogen Readiness will host a two-day educational immersion for reporters June 8-9. The event will bring together a small group of medical and science journalists and preeminent researchers and physician-scientists for a two-day seminar on the Harvard Medical School campus in Boston. The Opportunity Harvard Medical School will cover costs for hotel, meals and ground transportation for up to 10 journalists. Please note that attendees are responsible for their own travel to and from the Boston area. This is an educational opportunity offered on a background basis. The Topic AFTER COVID: Preparing for the pathogens of tomorrow The pandemic phase of COVID may be officially over, but the aftereffects of humanity’s collective encounter with SARS-CoV-2 will reverberate for decades to come. And if the past is prologue, the next pandemic is only a matter of when. SARS-CoV-2 has left a trail of physiologic destruction, including long COVID, a mysterious syndrome with pathobiology not yet understood and with virtually no treatments. The indisputable triumph of COVID vaccines has been marred by short-lived immunity, a shapeshifting virus, and the need for repeat boosting, underscoring the importance of developing new vaccines that offer broader and more lasting protection. The appearance of SARS-CoV-2 and its ability to evolve and mutate blindsided everyone. Three years later, are we better prepared to detect new pathogens and monitor shifts in the biology and behaviour of existing ones? Despite many achievements in COVID diagnosis, prevention, and treatment, public health efforts have been stymied by growing mistrust in science. In this interpandemic period, these unsolved challenges should compel us to prepare for the next contagion and avoid the binary trap of crisis and complacency. How do we do so? Harvard Medical School and the Massachusetts Consortium on Pathogen Readiness will explore these questions and more. Topics include:

  • Lessons from contagions past

  • The lingering questions of long COVID

  • The amplifying effects of co-infections: insights from the field of HIV

  • Long Covid, Epstein-Barr virus and Lyme disease—shared and unique features

  • A renaissance of immunology: What has COVID taught us about the immune system that we didn’t know before?

  • Therapies for emerging and mutating viruses

  • Vaccines of the future: How can basic science inform the design of polyvalent vaccines that induce durable response?

  • Beyond wastewater: Designing early-warning systems for emerging pathogens and mutations in existing ones

  • The role of AI in pandemic preparedness: From emerging pathogen monitoring to drug design to understanding the clinical features of novel diseases and syndromes

  • Lessons from and for public health — from engaging with local communities to combating disinformation, what, if anything, can scientists do to rebuild trust in science?

  • How should scientists work with policymakers to effect better response and enhance preparedness for emerging pathogens?

  • Health equity and pandemic preparedness

  • Climate change and novel pathogens

To Apply Please email the following materials to by 11:59 p.m., ET, on Friday, March 31.

  • Two to three paragraphs detailing why you are interested in the topic, and what you hope to take away from the seminar

  • Three to five relevant samples of your work in the field of science/medical journalism

  • A brief bio sketch (around 250 words)

In addition, please state that you have approval from your editor, or usual freelance clients, to cover the topic broadly at some point in the future. You are not obligated to cover Harvard Medical School’s work in the area, just the subject as a whole. Selected participants will be notified by April 14.

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