Dr. Nupur Verma, Drug Discovery Subject Matter Expert, shares her contributions to COVID-19 research

Updated: Jun 5, 2020

"My interest in biosciences stems way long back when I was in school. I wanted to work in the field to eradicate Tuberculosis. I studied Biotechnology from India and then went to the UK for my Ph.D. from the University of Cambridge. My Ph.D. was centered around ‘Drug Discovery for the Treatment of Tuberculosis.’ I further did my postdoctoral research from the University of California, San Francisco.

Image: Nupur Verma
Image: Dr. Nupur Verma

I am Dr. Nupur Verma, currently based in Seattle, Washington, USA.

For very long, there has been a myth that infectious diseases only outbreak in or affect developing nations. However, with the current pandemic outbreak, we all know that it is not true. COVID-19 is a viral disease that is affecting the entire world.

There are two parts to the ongoing COVID-19 research, one – the Researchers who are active in the laboratory performing hands-on research, and two – the Subject Matter Experts and scientists, who are contributing their time and knowledge to accelerate the ongoing research. I am volunteering at an initiative by the scientific community, Crowdfight COVID-19, as the Subject Matter Expert in the drug discovery for COVID-19.

Crowdfight COVID-19 is bringing Researchers and Subject Matter Experts from across the world to progress and expedite the COVID-19 research collaboratively. As part of my role, I receive many questions and requests from Researchers across the globe. Depending on the requests and my subject knowledge, I contribute.

Over the last few weeks, I have been working on designing a few studies to understand the nature of the disease and for the clinical trials of a few potential vaccines that are in the pipeline for coronavirus prevention. Additionally, I am also coordinating the volunteering efforts for the local scientists in the Washington state with an aim to speed COVID-19 testing and raise funds to conduct the research.

Over the last few months, we all have read and watched all kinds of news about coronavirus- the symptoms, the cure, the prevention, etc. Half of it is true, half of it is untrue. To bust the myths about coronavirus, a group of researchers has taken the initiative to publish a book. I am honored to be writing a chapter for the same. My focus would be on drug discovery and what are the frontline drugs that can be administered to the patients who are already suffering from the virus. This way, we aim to spread the correct scientific knowledge.

I believe that we need to learn from the previous pandemics and help the world to prevent or prepare for future pandemics more efficiently. There is a history of viral outbreaks, but off-lately all have them have hit a particular geographical location. However, COVID-19 has hit the entire world. I strongly feel that the governments, pharmaceutical companies, academic institutions, and philanthropic organizations must invest more in infectious disease research. It is high time that we understand the urgency and give emphasis to treat and eradicate infectious diseases - they are more deadly and can lead to severe pandemics.

Moreover, I believe Science should not have boundaries. Researchers from across the world should be able to collaborate unanimously for the betterment of human health. A lot of times, this is difficult as different countries have a different set of policies and data privacy laws. However, I feel there should be some standard provision to allow and encourage researchers to openly share early data and novel ideas.

This pandemic response has surely highlighted how quickly the innovation can translate from bench to bedside. Typically, finding a new vaccine or drug takes almost a decade and is expensive. I must applaud the speed at which researchers are working, it is record-breaking! I have never heard or seen anything progress so fast in the field of vaccine/ drug discovery. I am hoping for the best, and I will continue to contribute to the best of my abilities."

You Humanity pays respect and gratitude to Nupur Verma for going above and beyond to contribute towards Humanity.

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