For me, spring always brings Emily Dickinson’s poem “‘Hope’ is the thing with feathers” to mind. That first robin I see signals the advent of longer, brighter days, warmer weather, the invitation to emerge from isolation — all preserving and carrying hope.
This year it wasn’t the robin, but rather science, that brought back and, then, delivered hope.
Although it will be some time before we will know the shape of our post-COVID-19 lives, it is not too early to marvel at the ways, across all disciplines and in the face of efforts to deny and discredit it, science — interdisciplinary, international, collaborative, imaginative, and professional — found the way to vaccines that, in the end, will deliver billions of vials of hope.
Women’s Health Research at Yale played — and will continue to play — its part. In important ways, all facets of WHRY’s mission converged in how the center joined in, supported, and led parts of the mobilization to combat the virus: research, education, policy advocacy, mentoring, and interdisciplinary collaboration all proved essential. Biomedical science, and its realization in practical applications, require direction, prodding, and resources to set forward-thinking agendas, to launch innovative and necessary studies, to mentor new researchers and health care providers, and to inform the public. To take on and solve urgent, real-world problems.
Without WHRY’s leadership, science would too often miss the critical ways sex and gender affect the development and treatment of disease today, such as the lessons learned through WHRY’s study of sex-dependent immune system responses to COVID-19. And while WHRY’s work has focused on the coronavirus pandemic, the center has also continued to advance knowledge of the many other persisting and serious problems we face, such as cardiovascular disease, cancer, maternal mortality, opioid addiction, depression, and so much more.
This year, this time, even more than others, I thank you for your support of Women’s Health Research at Yale. Over this most troubling of years, your faith and generosity have demonstrated that you know what is important to protect, preserve, and advance. Given the past year’s unnerving uncertainties, your support has been especially meaningful, necessary, and heartening.