Grinnellian Covid Experiences - Michael Ison ’93

“I was up at 3 a.m. each night combing through the published literature.”

June 24, 2020 — Michael Ison ’93 is a professor in the Divisions of Infectious Diseases and Organ Transplantations at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine.

Michael Ison ’93
    Michael Ison ’93

My research focuses on respiratory viruses. More recently, I’ve been tasked with being the chair of the data and safety committee for the [National Institutes of Health’s] COVID-19 clinical trial, I’m a member of the Feinberg School of Medicine COVID-19 Task Force.

When the first cases in Italy and Iran were announced, I was convinced that a pandemic was upon us. We began work to convert some of our standing research projects focused on respiratory viruses to include COVID-19 so we could quickly start work on these studies.

As the epidemic began affecting our medical center, I had a week when I was busier than I had ever been. I was balancing working in our COVID-ICU with efforts to get our research up and running and putting in place a program to get our sickest patients access to an experimental drug to treat the infection. I was multitasking and working 16 hour days only to go home and continue working from home. I was up at 3 a.m. each night combing through the published literature and Twitter.

My day is spent working on Zoom and Microsoft Teams calls. When I’m not on call, I’m having to troubleshoot research problems for things we would never think about — where can we see the patients who are infected with a virus that we strive to keep away from our other patients, or how to get consent when the signed form is infectious.

I know that with the work we are doing, we will have a better understanding of SARS-CoV-2 and its impact on our patients. Being involved with a team focused on providing cutting-edge care and providing access to novel therapies (and vaccines soon, I hope) to our patients is very rewarding.

Read more stories about Grinnellians facing COVID-19 head-on.