Interim Director Denis Guttridge, Ph.D., shares a June 2020 update on the cancer center’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.

June 12, 2020
Denis Guttridge, Ph.D.

Dear friends of MUSC Hollings Cancer Center:

As you might know, our state’s COVID-19 strategy has moved from “isolate and quarantine” to “monitor and respond,” and communities and businesses throughout the state are carefully and strategically moving forward in reopening to the public. While COVID-19 continues to impact the entire world, our top priority at MUSC Hollings Cancer Center is the health and safety of patients, employees, partners, and communities. We must all work together to make smart decisions during this important transitional phase to protect the health of everyone. At the cancer center, this includes encouraging virtual visits when possible, piloting a curbside check-in process, and keeping nonessential staff working from home for the time being.

Although we can all agree that COVID-19 has been a major tragedy on so many levels, one aspect of this pandemic that my colleagues and I often talk about is how impressed we are with how fast science has moved to learn more about this coronavirus and ways to treat it. I’m especially impressed with the efforts that we’ve made right here at Hollings Cancer Center and MUSC. I hope you’ll take a moment to read an important article on a team of researchers at our cancer center who are contributing to a potential treatment against COVID-19 by looking at boosting our immune system, specifically T cells. In cancer treatment, or what we call immune therapy, we reprogram T cells to go after our cancer cells. Our researchers are applying similar approaches in a COVID-19 clinical trial to test reprogramming T cells against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. The team of basic and clinical scientists who are developing this potential treatment is led by Besim Ogretmen, Ph.D. I also invite you to tune into a recent podcast (see segment 7) with Dr. Marvella Ford, associate director of the Population Science and Cancer Disparities program at MUSC Hollings Cancer Center, as she discusses the impact of health disparities on cancer and COVID-19. This is a reality that many of our citizens face, and I believe it is important to be aware of these challenges and how we can all work together toward solutions.

As we move forward into this new normal, I once again encourage you to frequently check coronavirus updates from MUSC to stay up to date on commonly asked questions regarding COVID-19. We continue at MUSC Hollings Cancer Center to keep you in our thoughts during this turbulent time. As always, feel free to reach out to me at any time for questions or concerns.

With gratitude,

Denis Guttridge, Ph.D.