AUM symposium to reflect on COVID-19 pandemic, vaccines

Auburn University at Montgomery’s 8th annual Clinical Laboratory Science Symposium will focus on the progression of COVID-19 and the use of vaccines to combat the virus.

“This year completes two years since COVID appeared,” said Kyle Taylor, program director and department head for AUM’s Department of Medical & Clinical Laboratory Sciences in the College of Nursing & Health Sciences. “This is a perfect time to reflect on COVID and the struggles that have been encountered and will continue to be encountered.”

Rick Bright
Rick Bright

The free symposium, offered in a virtual and in-person format, is set to begin at 9 a.m. April 1 in Taylor Center 221-223 with the session “Vaccines for Pandemic Response,” featuring keynote speaker and AUM alumnus Rick Bright, chief executive officer of the Pandemic Prevention Institute at The Rockefeller Foundation. Bright, who is also senior vice president of pandemic and response for the Foundation, earned a bachelor’s degree in biology from AUM in 1997.

“There are still a lot of individuals who have not been vaccinated and Dr. Bright’s presentation may help them make an informed decision to become vaccinated,” Taylor said.

Eric Stanford
Eric Stanford

At the Rockefeller Foundation, Bright leads the development of the foundation’s pandemic data-to-action platform that integrates modern technology, data analytics and global partners to help the world detect, prevent and mitigate pandemic threats to achieve containment as quickly as possible.

“We are excited to have Dr. Bright bring his extensive expertise in the biotechnology industry where he served in senior leadership and executive management roles,” said Taylor, the symposium’s organizer. “He has held senior scientific leadership positions in non-governmental organizations where he championed innovative vaccine development and expanded vaccine manufacturing capacity to multiple developing countries. He also has spent a decade in vaccine, therapeutics, and diagnostics development at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.”

Michael Esco
Michael Esco

The event also includes an interdisciplinary group of educators and medical professionals offering sessions on pandemic-related topics, including laboratory testing, physical activity, and mental health. The lineup of speakers for the sessions are AUM alumni Eric Stanford, diagnostic laboratories supervisor at Vanderbilt University Medical Center; Michael Esco, professor of exercise physiology at the University of Alabama; and Whitney Jerkins, a licensed professional counselor.

Every year, AUM hosts the symposium to provide individuals such as medical laboratory scientist, pathologists, and the community with high quality continuing education opportunities in the field of laboratory science, Taylor said. The symposium also is open to AUM faculty, staff, and community, he said.

Whitney Jerkins
Whitney Jerkins

“We hope that this year’s attendees will have a better understanding of vaccine development, COVID laboratory testing, physical activity, and mental health throughout the pandemic after attending the symposium,” he said.

Register to attend the symposium via Zoom. If you would like to attend in person, RSVP to Peyton Guri at [email protected].

Learn more about the symposium and speakers.

About Rick Bright, Keynote Speaker

Rick Bright is currently the Chief Executive Officer of the Pandemic Prevention Institute (PPI) at The Rockefeller Foundation.  Dr. Bright leads the development of the Foundation’s pandemic data-to-action platform that integrates modern technology, data analytics and global partners to help the world detect, prevent, and mitigate pandemic threats to achieve containment as quickly as possible.

Prior to this role, he served as the Deputy Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response and the Director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA), in the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  Dr. Bright has also gained extensive experience in the biotechnology industry where he served in senior leadership and executive management roles. He has held senior scientific leadership positions in non-governmental organizations where he championed innovative vaccine development and expanded vaccine manufacturing capacity to multiple developing countries. He also spent a decade in vaccine, therapeutics, and diagnostics development at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. For this work, Dr. Bright received the Charles C. Shepard Science Award for Scientific Excellence.

Dr. Bright serves as an international subject matter expert in biodefense, emergency preparedness and response, pharmaceutical innovation, vaccine, drug and diagnostics development and served as an advisor to the Biden Administration, World Health Organization, the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations (CEPI) and the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering & Medicine Forum on Microbial Threats.  Dr. Bright serves as a Sr. Fellow at the Foreign Policy Association.

Dr. Bright received a doctorate in immunology and molecular pathogenesis from Emory University and a B.S. (magna cum laude) in biology and physical sciences from Auburn University at Montgomery.