My Science, My Strongest Tool for Social Justice

July 1, 2020  |  By Lois Tolvinski  |  2 Minute Read

My efforts toward a COVID-19 vaccine helps my cause to combat social justice

I grew up in a rural western Pennsylvania town, where poverty and a lack of access to quality healthcare were deeply intertwined. As a young adult, I was drawn to Philadelphia for its opportunities and vibrant culture, but here in the city I see many people working through the same struggles that I witnessed in my hometown. Over the last decade, I have developed a deep love for this city and my neighbors and maintain a strong desire to work alongside them in a continued effort to improve our city. In the midst of a global COVID-19 pandemic and a need for equity in healthcare, I have begun to ask myself: Where can I channel that desire for the most benefit? How do I utilize my skills as a scientist to contribute to society on a larger scale? And where does a company like Chimeron Bio fit in?

The pharma and biotech community can help address not only unmet health needs, but also health inequities.  To that end, I am thrilled that Chimeron Bio is pursuing a vaccine for COVID-19 and I am integrally involved in this vaccine program.  If successful, Chimeron’s ChaESAR technology could pave the way for an effective and affordable vaccine against SARS-CoV2, the virus that causes COVID-19. This could be a game-changer in low-income communities that are often disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

Particularly in light of the reinvigorated fight for racial justice, it is important to note the data that shows populations affected by this disease are also disproportionately represented by communities of color. This is due to a number of factors including racial segregation (particularly in more densely populated areas), lower access to care, and over-representation in jobs in essential industries and in jails, prisons, and detention centers. The disparity in healthcare is seen along both racial and socioeconomic lines. This is where I have found a place to focus my energy for health equity and racial justice.

Our role as scientists is critical right now. We cannot single handedly work to dismantle the systemic oppression of those most at-risk of disease, but we can work to ensure that those segments of the population are able to access and afford the life-saving technologies we develop while we continue the fight for equality. Daily life has been disrupted for most of us during this pandemic, and I have not been immune to the toll it can take on one’s own mental health. However, even on my worst days, I am assuaged by the fact that the work I do at Chimeron will (hopefully) benefit society in the most constructive way that my professional skills allow.

Harnessing the Power of saRNA with ChaESAR

Chimeron Bio’s ChaESAR platform is enabling application of saRNA biology to treat multiple genetic disorders and diseases.

See How