Game-changing COVID-19 drug discovered at Emory

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October 22, 2021

Game-changing COVID-19 drug discovered at Emory

As it has now for the past 20 months, the COVID-19 pandemic continues to dominate the local, regional, and national landscapes, with the tragic milestone of 700,000 lost lives, ongoing surges across the country, and continued widespread vaccine hesitancy.

However, there is also cause to be hopeful as scientists continue to develop exciting new therapeutics to combat the virus. One such drug is Molnupiravir, an investigational oral antiviral drug discovered by researchers here at Emory, which appears to significantly reduce the risk of hospitalization or death in patients with mild to moderate COVID-19.

Merck and Ridgeback Biotherapeutics are currently advancing the drug after licensing it from Drug Innovation Ventures at Emory (DRIVE). Initially named EIDD-2801, it is the first investigational antiviral that can be administered in pill form, which could ease distribution around the world. Merck has requested Emergency Use Authorization for Molnupiravir from the FDA.

This is a true breakthrough in the fight against COVID-19, and our team at DRIVE, a not-for-profit biotechnology company wholly owned by Emory, has done extraordinary work in bringing this drug to fruition. Congratulations to the DRIVE team and to all the Emory researchers whose work has contributed to this historic discovery and to the renewal of hope in the face of adversity.

Please direct questions and comments to

Jonathan S. Lewin, MD, FACR
Executive Vice President for Health Affairs, Emory University
Executive Director, Woodruff Health Sciences Center
CEO and Chairman of the Board, Emory Healthcare

SOM receives funding to support early-career women and under-represented-in-medicine faculty

The School of Medicine has been awarded the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation COVID-19 Fund to Retain Clinical Scientists. The supplemental research funds will support the research productivity and retention of early-career women and URiM (under-represented in medicine) faculty with family caregiving responsibilities that have increased during the pandemic. The fund will allow these faculty members to maximize the impact of research supplements and will provide research and grant administrative support, institutional resources to offset caregiving expenses, and enhanced access to professional development and mentorship and sponsorship activities at this critical career stage. Call for applications for supplemental research support will open later this fall.

In Brief
Woodruff Scholar Early Independence Awards

Woodruff Health Sciences Center (WHSC) recently named three recipients of the 2021 Woodruff Scholar Early Independence Award for junior faculty—Benjamin Barwick (hematology and medical oncology), Jessica Raper (Yerkes), and Jennifer S. Stevens (psychiatry and behavioral sciences). Recipients of this honor have been identified as rising stars with outstanding early-career accomplishments and strong potential to become future leaders at Emory. The goal of the program is to foster interdisciplinary research across the WHSC.

Emory Musculoskeletal Institute opens

Emory Musculoskeletal Institute opened this month. Located in Emory’s Executive Park health innovation district, the new six-story building will serve as the home base for multiple centers of excellence and programs, including the Emory Spine Center, the Emory Joint Reconstruction Center, the Emory Foot/Ankle Center, the Emory Upper Extremity Program, the Emory Musculoskeletal Oncology Division, and Emory Orthopaedic Physical Therapy. Clinical, translational, and basic research programs can also be found in the Emory Musculoskeletal Research Center. Read more.

NIH New Innovator and Transformative Research Awards

Emory researchers garnered three National Institutes of Health (NIH) awards. Chethan Pandarinath (Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering) is using artificial intelligence to build brain-machine interfaces to assist people with paralysis, and Candace Fleischer (radiology and imaging sciences) plans to use magnetic resonance imaging in new ways to study metabolic disease. Pandarinath and Fleischer won 2021 NIH Director’s New Innovator Awards. Provost Ravi Bellamkonda received the 2021 NIH Director’s Transformative Research Award for his crosscutting work using electrical fields to treat a particularly aggressive pediatric cancer.

Emory Healthcare part of new BSN initiative

Emory Healthcare and Chamberlain University have launched an initiative designed to address a nationwide workforce need for more registered nurses to continue their education and attain their bachelor of science in nursing (BSN). The collaborative effort encourages eligible nurses employed by Emory Healthcare to pursue a BSN by using a combination of Emory’s Employee Education Plan, which reimburses qualified Emory Healthcare employees annually for tuition costs, and the Chamberlain University Advancing Care Together (ACT) Grant. The ACT Grant is designed to cover the remaining cost of BSN tuition at Chamberlain for eligible individuals once Emory Healthcare employees reach their annual tuition reimbursement cap. Read more.

Winship 5K raises more than $800K

Winship Cancer Institute welcomed more than 1,500 in-person runners and hundreds more virtually to the 11th annual Winship Win the Fight 5K Run/Walk on Oct. 2. Winship's first-ever hybrid road race exceeded its goal by raising more than $800,000 for cancer research. Read more.

Brain Health Center joins NIH study

The Emory Brain Health Center has been selected as one of 25 sites to participate in a landmark NIH study to help provide new insights into healthy brain development and behavior from birth through early childhood. Claire Coles (psychiatry) and Julie Kable (psychiatry) will lead Emory’s role in NIH’s HEALthy Brain and Child Development Study.

Colleen Kelley (associate professor of medicine) was awarded the HIV Medicine Association’s 2021 Award for Excellence in HIV Research.

Carlos del Rio (executive associate dean for Emory at Grady) received the American Public Health 2021 Association Award for Excellence for his work as an innovative and internationally respected clinician, researcher, and educator dedicated to the advancement of HIV treatment and prevention.

Nabil F. Saba (professor of hematology and medical oncology) was honored as the inaugural recipient of the Lynne and Howard Halpern Chair in Head and Neck Cancer Research.


November 10 | 5:30–7:00 p.m. 

The Sum of Us: What Racism Costs Everyone and How We Can Prosper Together

Join the School of Medicine and the Emory community for a virtual conversation with New York Times–bestselling author Heather McGhee. Register.

November 12 | 8:30 a.m.–1:15 p.m.

COVID-19 Response: Celebrating the contributions of Emory Graduate Students.

Emory Student Center. Register by Oct. 29 here.

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