The work of most scientists, in most eras, is slow, requiring long hours of studying the work of those who came before. Breakthroughs are rare. So, for a pulmonologist like Grace Lam, who studies respiratory disease and started at the University of Alberta in May of 2020, COVID made things awful, but intellectually compelling.
“Hopefully, there won’t be another opportunity like this in my lifetime, but it did create an interesting experience, kind of like we were going back to the days of Louis Pasteur discovering penicillin,” says Lam, who since high school has been fascinated by the interplay between bacteria, microbes and their host cells.
Since its beginning, her team has been on the pandemic forefront, helping patients and making breakthroughs, even today. “Working with the engineering team, we’ve designed an algorithm to be able to triage patients into different clinical buckets. And this classification has a predictive ability to see how severe those patients are in terms of their long COVID.”
The intellectual stimulation doesn’t make COVID’s horror any easier to bear, but being there for patients is all Lam knows.