From the Provost - Forum on COVID-19

From the Provost - Forum on COVID-19

Dear Faculty and Staff,

While we are looking forward to the semester ahead and to seeing more of you on campus, we understand that it will begin amid an ongoing pandemic and that many of you have questions about the evolving COVID-19 situation.

To help address some of your questions and concerns, we have organized a forum with Rice administrators and infectious disease professionals from the Texas Medical Center via Zoom from 5 p.m. to 6 p.m. Aug. 18.

Vice Provost for Research Yousif Shamoo will moderate the forum, which will include: Dr. Paul Klotman, president, chief executive officer and executive dean of Baylor College of Medicine; Dr. James Versalovic, interim pediatrician-in-chief and pathologist-in-chief at Texas Children’s Hospital; Kevin Kirby, vice president for administration at Rice; and Jerusha Kasch, director of institutional crisis management at Rice.

Klotman became president and CEO of the Baylor College of Medicine in 2010 after serving nine years as the chairman of the Samuel Bronfman Department of Medicine of the Icahn School of Medicine at Mount Sinai. He is a specialist in nephrology and is known throughout the world for his studies of HIV’s effects on the kidney. Since the beginning of the pandemic, Klotman has produced a weekly video address to help educate people about COVID-19 and what they can do to keep themselves and their families safe.

Versalovic directs the delivery of diagnostic services and laboratory medicine at Texas Children’s. His main clinical interests are medical microbiology, molecular diagnostics of infectious diseases, microbiome science as it applies to pediatric gastroenterology, genomic and metagenomic medicine, and molecular pathology. Versalovic created the first microbiome center based in a children’s hospital and the first therapeutic microbiology fellowship program in the country. In his role as interim pediatrician-in-chief, he has educated the public about COVID-19 and its effects on children. He recently discussed the delta variant on Texas Children’s Blog.

Kirby has helped lead Rice through the pandemic since it began more than a year and a half ago. His regular communications to faculty, staff and students have kept our community abreast of what’s going on and how we can work together to maintain a safe and healthy academic environment. Prior to joining Rice in 2006, Kirby held positions at the Columbia University Medical Center, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at the National Institutes of Health, the Army Research Laboratory and the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy.

Kasch plans, coordinates and manages the activities of the Crisis Management Team and updates the university’s crisis management plans as needed. Kasch has more than a decade of experience as an emergency manager and has held positions at various school districts and other governmental entities across the nation.

We hope you have time to attend what we anticipate to be a highly informative event on COVID-19, and specifically the new delta variant. If you have questions you would like the panel to answer, please send them here prior to the forum. We will also entertain questions during the forum. To join the forum, click here. If needed, enter the passcode: 094153.

Warmest regards,

Reginald DesRoches, Howard Hughes Provost

Christopher Johns-Krull, Faculty Senate Speaker

Yousif Shamoo, Vice President for Research