October CHR VOICE Digest

Since our September issue was completely dedicated to COVID-19, here is, for all practical purposes, our first regular issue of the VOICE in the 2020/2021 academic year, and what an academic year it promises to be: At the time of this writing New York City has for weeks been below 1% of positive COVID-19 testing, mortality from the pandemic has almost completely subsided and even hospital admissions are at minimal levels. Still, politics do not allow the city to return to a state of normality. Public schools are, finally, supposed to open; but we are skeptical that they really will in a way that can be described as a normal learning environment. The same is true for colleges and for postgraduate education in medicine. CHR’s staff members have been participating as faculty in an ever-increasing number of virtual medical conferences after the usual fall schedule of conference uniformly has been cancelled.

Photo by Karolina Badzmierowska via Unsplash

This, unfortunately, also meant cancellation of the annual Foundation for Reproductive Medicine Conference (FRMC) in November which CHR co-sponsors. We have held off from cancelling the conference for as long as was possible in the hope that by November things may have changed. Even though we are still hopeful that most of the COVID-19 pandemic will be behind us here in the U.S. by that time, the fear that there may be a fall-wave of reinfection is simply too great to plan an in-person meeting, as it depends on travel by most faculty and audience members from all over the world. With currently still in place travel restrictions, the conference was no longer a realistic option for 2020.

We decided against converting it to a virtual meeting for two distinct reasons: First, we felt that there were already too many of those on the schedule (that often did not work very well). Second, at a virtual meeting it, unfortunately, is practically impossible to maintain one of the main characteristics that has given the FRMC so much worldwide recognition over the last few year: the ability to establish unique person-to-person exchanges between basic scientists and clinicians. The conference, therefore, in 2020 will take a break, with intent of roaring back, stronger and better than ever, in 2021.

Except for standard mitigation efforts, which will be maintained for as long as recommended by government and professional organizations, CHR has returned to normal. We are pleased to report that even our long-distance patients have reengaged and have started traveling. Domestic travel for our patient is almost back to pre-pandemic levels, with most patients actually reporting more comfortable travel than before because of still empty airports and mostly empty planes. CHR’s long-distance patients from overseas are less comfortable with travel, mostly because travel to the U.S. is still COVID-restricted from most countries and requires special medical visas even from countries that usually have no such visa requirements. U.S. consulates have proven to be very accommodating in issuing such visas and CHR gladly provides the necessary supportive letter of medical necessity.   With a somewhat slower clinical schedule over the last few months, CHR’s clinicians and researchers have had more time to dedicate to the center’s uninterrupted research efforts, reflected in an unusually large number of presentations accepted to this year’s (virtual) ASRM Conference, a record number of submitted manuscripts for publication and expanding research efforts with our collaborators at Rockefeller University and at other institutions. We want to remind our readers that reprints of papers published by CHR investigators can be ordered by contacting CHR.

In this month’s CHR VOICE, we cover:

Norbert Gleicher, MD, leads CHR’s clinical and research efforts as Medical Director and Chief Scientist. A world-renowned specialist in reproductive endocrinology, Dr. Gleicher has published hundreds of peer-reviewed papers and lectured globally while keeping an active clinical career focused on ovarian aging, immunological issues and other difficult cases of infertility.