March 2020

The COVID-19 outbreak has brought medicine and scientific research to the forefront of global attention in an unprecedented manner. Indeed, many of us—whether part of the scientific community or not—find ourselves in a place we neither have been before, nor expected to be.

A global effort is underway to contain the spread of the virus, treat those who are affected, and develop a vaccine that can lessen the impact of, or ultimately prevent, such outbreaks in the future. As you know, UPMC began offering COVID-19 testing this week and UPMC and University of Pittsburgh scientists are part of the international effort to develop a vaccine. As physicians and researchers, we understand that such developments will take time, careful observation, and critical analysis. But it is my hope that in the coming years, the situation we face today is one we won’t face again because of all that we’re learning right now.

Practicing social distancing may be a challenge, but technology enables us to remain connected and continue to share our knowledge no matter where we are. Though we’ll miss the camaraderie we enjoy at national and international meetings—nearly all of which have been postponed or canceled this spring—and as we adapt our work schedules to mitigate risk, we recognize the importance of flattening the curve and protecting vulnerable individuals like the people and families we serve here at UPMC Hillman Cancer Center.

In this rapidly changing situation, UPMC and the University of Pittsburgh are working together to keep our community informed about the latest developments and safety guidelines. I’d like to express my sincere gratitude to everyone at Hillman for your flexibility during these challenging times, with special thanks to our administrative staff for keeping everything running as smoothly as possible. Thank you for all that you continue to do for the Hillman community and for your continued commitment to our mission. Stay safe and well.


Robert L. Ferris, MD, PhD