April 6, 2020
Good morning MDIBL,
What is really missing from this letter is music. You may remember Robin Williams in that movie where he screamed, “Good morning Vietnam!” which was immediately followed by music from the 60’s and pictures of beautiful countryside with the sunrise over the Mekong river. I can easily imagine something like this from MDIBL – sunrise, waves, and good music.
This movie is also a wonderful example of hope in difficult times. MDIBL is doing very well during this time of crisis. New positive ideas are born: Iain Drummond is building new protector shields with an ad hoc consortium of scientists and engineers on the east coast and I am very impressed by the activities of our staff volunteering to sew masks. Everybody is joining in with new ideas and I half expect there will be masks with worms, axolotls, zebrafish or sharks on them! These masks will not only protect us and others but are a statement that MDIBL is strong and upbeat in a time of crisis. People are talking to and taking care of each other. The daily senior staff meetings have brought us together. The sense of community on the island and communication between the different institutions is also good — there is a great level of exchange and information sharing happening. It’s wonderful to see how people are taking care of each other.
Importantly, the science at MDIBL has not stopped. I enjoyed a seminar by Joel Graber on Friday where he explained and discussed new ways to analyze expression data. This would have been interesting anytime but now we are even hungrier for robust scientific discussions. Our MDIBL community is growing despite the epidemic: Prayag Murawala, our new assistant professor and research group leader, joins us for meetings by Zoom. Today we will have a meeting to discuss a possible new class of compounds which have been discovered at MDIBL during the last weeks. I am in the midst of planning an international seminar for the fall to combine the presentation of new experimental data in the morning with on-site bioinformatic analysis in the afternoon. You can see that I expect us to be fully recovered by then.
And, we are delighted to announce our new administrative director – Claudine Lurvey, who is moving into this role after having been our director of finance for many years. I look forward to leading together with Claudine and Iain.
However, despite our progress, we have not forgotten the fight against the epidemic in New York City and other epicenters. We are blessed in Maine that most likely the epidemic will not hit us as badly as in other more populated areas of the country. It is obvious that the virus thrives in the crowds of New York City better than in our open spaces of Maine. As hard as it is to see, these epicenters of the disease will get worse before they get better. As I reported yesterday, the numbers of infected people in Germany are not falling but they are leveling off.
I wish you a good start to Easter week.