Pandemic Perspectives: Lawrence Richer

Q & A about lessons learned in COVID-19 and research.

Laura Vega - 18 September 2020

The COVID-19 pandemic not only disrupted routines and impacted the economy; it has changed the way research is conducted, as health scientists and clinicians continue on their quest to better understand the novel coronavirus.

Lawrence Richer, vice-dean of research (clinical) shares some of the lessons learned and his approach to coronavirus research. He will be touching on these and more topics as the host of the upcoming Alumni Week(end) panel discussion event “Pandemic Perspectives – What we’ve learned from COVID-19” on Sept. 23.

What has been your perspective in approaching the COVID-19 pandemic?

I oversee all aspects of clinical research in the Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. At no time has evidence been more important in helping make management decisions than now, responding to COVID-19. There are many theories and some really encouraging new therapies—such as vaccines or treatments for severe disease—but these will need to be carefully tested in humans.

As a medical faculty and research-integrated health system, our goal is to ensure we can help support the creation of this evidence, whether it be through participating in clinical trials or supporting our researchers in their work.

How has COVID-19 changed your professional life?
Absolutely everything has changed in my professional life, from how we provide medical care, to how we meet and run a faculty, to how we do research—using technology and innovative strategies to minimize the risk of transmission.

What is something from this pandemic that has surprised you?
The ability of our faculty and the health system to pivot and respond in an efficient and relatively coordinated fashion.

If you could go back in time and give yourself one piece of advice at the start of the pandemic, what would it be?
I thought I would have more time to catch up on some lagging academic activities like manuscript writing. I learned that if you don't make it a priority, the demands of the day will always take precedence.

What can people expect from you at the panel?
I will hopefully engage the panel members in a lively discussion and ensure the audience has a chance to interact.

Pandemic Perspectives - What we’ve learned from COVID-19
Date: Wednesday, Sept. 23
Time: 7 p.m.
Register for the event here 


Carole Estabrooks, Faculty of Nursing. '87 MNurs, '97 PhD
Dean Eurich, School of Public Health. '03 MSc, '07 PhD
Lynora Saxinger, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry
Lorne Tyrrell, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. '64 BSc, '68 MD
Moderator: Lawrence Richer, Faculty of Medicine & Dentistry. '92 BSc(Hons), '96 MD, '09 MSc