Skip to Main Content

Leadership Message

Rosalind Franklin University continues to rise to meet the many challenges posed by COVID-19 as evidenced across our research community, which responded with renewed commitment and resilience while we ramped down bench work, paused investigations and closed labs to all but essential tasks.

Despite upended routines — the abrupt move in March to remote work and virtual meetings followed by the cautious return to labs in June under stringent social distancing protocols — our indefatigable researchers continue to be extraordinarily productive. While working remotely, they submitted 33 extramural grant applications requesting a total of $29.1 million in funding. Five of these proposals were directly related to SARS-CoV-2. They also dived into data analysis and the writing of manuscripts and took more time for deep thinking and ideation. They developed new collaborations and pursued new questions that have resulted in promising COVID-related projects.

We are grateful for our many dedicated team members who have helped lead our transition efforts during this critical time. The resumption of our research activities is a testament to their flexibility, ingenuity and perseverance.

RFU wholeheartedly responded to a call by the state of Illinois for a redirection of our resources to help slow the spread of the virus. Our Clinical Immunology Lab is a particular point of pride, as its members work to translate and expand its science to COVID-19 diagnostics and research. The lab’s partnership on viral testing with Rosalind Franklin University Health Clinics and other community-based sites added to the state’s testing infrastructure. Our top priority has always been and will continue to be the health and wellness of our community, region and nation.

We are moving forward with optimism to advance our research enterprise, including our new Innovation and Research Park, its disease-focused centers and our Helix 51 incubator, with the goal of driving the translation of novel medical discoveries to improve health.

As you will read in this issue of Helix, even amid the COVID-19 response, we continue to add biomedical expertise with the recruitment of two top research faculty to our Brain Science Institute. The institute held its inaugural Neuroscience Research Symposium on July 23, an inclusive, diverse platform for the discussion of ongoing neuroscience projects by some of RFU’s — and our region’s — brightest graduate-level and postdoctoral trainees.

Scientific discovery cannot stop. Whatever the extreme event or national crisis, science and the new knowledge and understanding it creates is the foundation for a healthier, more equitable future. Whatever challenges lie ahead, the people of RFU, grounded in science and committed to responsible action and compassion for all, will meet them together.

Wishing you the best of health,

Wendy Rheault, PT, PhD, FASAHP, FNAP, DipACLM
President and CEO

Ronald S. Kaplan, PhD
Executive Vice President for Research