The SIG Beat


NEW SIG: COVID-19 Scientific Interest Group

The COVID-19 Scientific Interest Group was created in March 2020 in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. This interest group is intended for NIH scientists and HHS colleagues to exchange information concerning research on COVID-19 disease and the virus that causes it—severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2).

In early 2020, as the world was just learning of a strange and alarming new virus infecting people in southeast China, NIHers already were at work investigating the nature of what would become known as SARS-CoV-2. Researchers at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), in particular, were among the first in the United States to assess this emerging threat. NIH then combined this initial assessment with years of ongoing research on pandemics, in general, and on coronavirus, specifically, to inform other health authorities.

The NIH constitutes an exceptional pool of scientific talent. It’s only natural, then, that so many of you have turned your focus to studying SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 in your respective discipline, be it immunology, virology, epidemiology, structure biology, computational science, bioengineering, pandemic modeling, animal modeling, or another. Coordinating these activities will be a major focus of the COVID-19 SIG.


Virtual Lecture Series:

  • April 15: “The Biomedical Research Response to COVID-19: A View from NIAID” by Hilary D. Marston, M.D., M.P.H. (NIAID) (
  • April 22: “Rapid COVID-19 Vaccine Development: An Example of the Prototype Pathogen Approach for Pandemic Preparedness,” by Barney Graham, M.D., Ph.D., Deputy Director of NIAID’s Vaccine Research Center (
  • April 29: “COVID-19 Diagnostics: the Challenge of Rapid, High-Volume Detection of SARS-CoV2”: by Karen Frank, M.D., Ph.D., Chief Department of Laboratory Medicine, NIH Clinical Center (
  • May 6: “Animal Models for COVID-19: A Critical Component of the Response to the Pandemic,” by Emmie De Witt, Ph.D., Chief, Molecular Pathogenesis Unit, Laboratory of Virology, NIAID
  • May 13: Adaptive Clinical Trial Design,” by Lori Dodd, Ph.D., Mathematical Statistician, Biostatistics Research Branch, NIAID
  • May 20: Infection Control in COVID-19,” by Tara Palmore, M.D., Hospital Epidemiologist, Clinical Center
  • More to be scheduled.

The PIs who lead or moderate this new group were culled from a far larger list of volunteers and represent the scientific diversity of the NIH: Mario Borgnia (NIEHS), Carson Chow (NIDDK), Michail Lionakis (NIAID), Vinay Pathak (NCI), Kaitlyn Sadtler (NIBIB), Pam Schwartzberg (NIAID), and Irini Sereti (NIAID). The NIH Office of Intramural Research representative is Charles Dearolf (

For more information about the COVID-19 Scientific Interest Group, go to