August 18

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Some People Winter in Florida, I want to Summer in Seattle

When you don’t live in the Pacific Northwest and most of what you know about Seattle comes from Grey’s Anatomy, you assume it is gray and rainy every day. As it turns out, the summer time here is absolutely beautiful. As someone who doesn’t like humidity, I can say that I am not missing the 100 plus heat index of Massachusetts one bit. Plus, every day is a good hair day here!

I’ve been so busy with work and enjoying the weather that it’s hard to believe it’s already been 6 weeks since I arrived.  Some of the fun I’ve been having has involved spending a lot of time with my brother and his family because they happen to live nearby in Portland, Oregon. My niece had a basketball tournament in Snoqualmie a few weeks ago so not only did I get to hang out with them over the weekend and watch her play (super proud Auntie moment) but I got to visit the 8th wonder of the world, Snoqualmie Falls.

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My niece also told me that when Portland was formed they were thinking of naming it Boston but decided on a coin toss to go with Portland. How weird that would have been!?

On the first weekend here, I ventured out to Leavenworth, WA to celebrate the non-bachelorette, bachelorette party of a good friend that happens to live in Seattle. Leavenworth is an adorable, Bavarian village with picturesque mountains, cute shops, beer gardens, and yes even a Starbucks. Using calligraphy to write your store sign apparently makes it authentically German.

As you are probably starting to notice, photography is not one of my many skills. But having good hair AND being a good photographer is just being greedy. We can’t have it all.

In addition to fun I also have been doing a lot of work.  Working at PATH has been a lot different than my typical GSK day job. For starters, there is no lab or at least not one that I work in. Here is what I look like a lot of the time at GSK:

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Not really, I only wear that on special occasions. The kind where your coworker makes you do it.

I haven’t donned PPE in 2 months which is probably the longest I’ve gone in 10 years. I’m sure my GSK coworkers are hoping I haven’t forgotten how to pipette but I can’t make any promises.

Because I primarily work on early lead drug discovery efforts at GSK, I am really enjoying venturing in to the later stages of drug development as part of the Vaccine Innovation and Access group at PATH.   Organizations like PATH are so important because they identify areas where they can contribute to advancing development and getting lifesaving vaccines to areas where they are most needed. It reminds you constantly how lucky we are to live in a place where a doctor or life-saving medicine is just steps away.

With RSV, each year in the United States each, ~57,000 children under 5 are hospitalized due to RSV infection with only ~40 fatalities per year. But it’s such a common illness that nearly every child by the age of 2 has been infected with RSV at least once. However, 99% of the 66,000-199,000 deaths yearly worldwide are in developing countries.  Because access to healthcare can be challenging, the ability to immunize this population or to provide maternal antibody transfer through vaccine would be literally life saving.  PATH is able to coordinate studies for RSV and many other disease areas often by working with the WHO and grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation.  One thing that has been so eye opening is how willing industry, academia, and government agencies are to participate in these studies. Each has their own vested interest and yet at the end of the day, it’s clear that saving lives is everyone’s top priority.

As promised here are the many faces of the Space Needle as taken from my apartment. Well the Space Needle is missing in one of them….

Next time, pictures of PATH and maybe some more of me!