MultiCare bestows research award for COVID-19 work
MultiCare recently named cardiologist Vinay Malhotra, MD, as this year’s winner of the MultiCare Insitute for Research & Innovation's Outstanding Research Investigator Award.
Announced at MultiCare’s 6th Annual Research Day, held Friday, Oct. 16, 2020, the award recognizes the dedication of research investigators who go above and beyond to advance their research work with a high level of leadership, collaborative teamwork, and direct impact on patient care.
Dr. Malhotra’s commitment to clinical research has long been a cornerstone of his cardiology practice. His years of collaborative work with MultiCare’s Institute for Research & Innovation has included dozens of clinical trials with hundreds of patients.
Then last January, Washington was abruptly thrust into the pandemic’s epicenter with the first confirmed case of novel coronavirus in the country. True to form, Dr. Malhotra quickly stepped forward to volunteer his help. As the biggest public health crisis in a century unfolded, he took a lead role in shaping MultiCare’s institutional response, treating patients with a drug called remdesivir.
Access to innovative treatment for patients across MultiCare
As the new deadly virus began sweeping across the globe with a rapidly rising death toll, researchers were frantically searching for possible treatment. An antiviral drug developed by Gilead Sciences, remdesivir, had been used to treat other deadly viruses such as Ebola and SARS.
“In those early days, there was no standard of care, no treatment for COVID-19,” recalled Dr. Malhotra. “We looked at some preliminary data out of China about the use of remdesivir, and decided we wanted to offer any available treatment options that might benefit our critically ill patients.”
MultiCare swung into high gear to assemble a team across the organization, working furiously day and night to join Gilead Sciences’ remdesivir research trials already underway. Alongside Scott Meehan, MD, a pulmonologist with MultiCare Pulmonary Specialists - Tacoma; and Daniel Coulston, MD, a pulmonolgist with MultiCare Rockwood Clinic, Dr. Malhotra reviewed and monitored the care of every patient admitted to MultiCare hospitals, eventually administrating remdesivir to over 250 patients. The team was exhilarated to see their patients positively responding to treatment and even saw a lower mortality rate than the reported national rate.
“While China’s initial studies of remdesivir did not show any reduction in mortality, as the months went on, we learned that timing is a key factor; patients who take remdesivir in the early part of the viral phase experience a significantly better clinical outcome than patients with more advanced disease,” explains Dr. Malhotra.
MultiCare’s longstanding commitment to community research
While honored to be named Outstanding Investigator, Dr. Malhotra is quick to point out that his team could participate in the remdesivir trials due to MultiCare’s established research program that goes back 35 years. The solid foundation of administrative and clinical support from the Institute for Research & Innovation has made possible hundreds of clinical trials in MultiCare hospitals, laboratories and clinics across Washington State.
“It is important to bring innovative therapies and medications to the doorstep of the patient and treat them in their own community,” said Dr. Malhotra. “MultiCare’s robust research program allows the delivery of cutting-edge health care that traditionally was only available at an academic medical center.”
Dr. Malhotra was also one of a number of researchers who received the Diane Cecchettini Excellence in Research Award at MultiCare’s Research Day, for his work as part of a team responsible for instigating MultiCare’s Convalescent Plasma Program for COVID-19.
Learn more about clinical trials sponsored by MultiCare Institute for Research & Innovation.