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Politics

US Ambassador Pyatt Visits Greek Health Ministry, Praises SNF

ATHENS –

ATHENS – On May 14, U.S. Ambassador to Greece Geoffrey Pyatt visited the Greek Health Ministry in the context of the two countries' cooperation on health and technology issues. Amb. Pyatt met with Health Minister Vasilis Kikilias and Deputy Minister Vasilis Kontozamanis and discussed the potential for top companies in the field to invest in Greece, said Kikilias in statements following the meeting.

Pyatt congratulated Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis and the Cabinet for the way that Greece has so effectively handled the global challenge posed by the pandemic. He noted that the actions of the Greek government had saved lives and had also done an exceptional job improving Greece’s reputation. The ambassador also congratulated Kikilias for his leading role in this effort, as well as the deputy health minister and the hundreds of Greek doctors and nurses "who are the heroes of this story in recent months.”

Pyatt noted that this was a historic time and something that everyone will remember, adding that every one at the U.S. Embassy was lucky to be in Greece at this time, expressing his awe at the services offered by the Greek health sector.

"The Stavros Niarchos Foundation has contributed a significant amount, $3 million, to Rockefeller University of New York for its research on COVID-19," Pyatt noted, adding that there are thousands of researchers in the U.S. who are working in leading world-class pharmaceutical companies, in state and university laboratories in many different locations to find a treatment and a vaccine for the disease.

“I know that U.S. industry, U.S. researchers and our multinational companies, such as Abbott, Pfizer – which is increasing its presence in Thessaloniki – and Abbvie that already has a clinical testing center in Athens, will play a leading role in this effort. I am very pleased with the delivery of 200,000 antibody tests to the Greek Health Ministry. We hope this delivery will help Greece in the next crucial period against the coronavirus and to the restoration of Greek economic activity,” Pyatt said.

In conclusion, Pyatt highlighted that the United States and Greece will continue to cooperate for the solution of the problem, solving it together, and moving forward as allies and extremely close partners.

The Rockefeller University and the Stavros Niarchos Foundation (SNF) on April 28 announced a $3 million expansion of their longstanding partnership for research and medicine, bolstering Rockefeller’s round-the-clock research initiatives related to COVID-19 and the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes it.

Since the arrival of the pandemic, 18 Rockefeller labs have turned their attention to COVID-19 research. While an effective vaccine may be a year or more away, Rockefeller’s research, which involves over 130 scientists working across disciplines, aims to develop urgently needed new approaches to preventing and treating the disease.

The projects underway range from near-term efforts to prevent infection in front-line health care workers and reduce the severity of symptoms in vulnerable populations to longer-term strategies to develop therapeutics and vaccines.

The effort brings together Rockefeller experts in infectious disease, immunology, biochemistry, structural biology, and genetics. Among them are immunologist Michel Nussenzweig, who recently developed a technique for producing highly potent antibodies against HIV, and physician-scientist Marina Caskey, who is overseeing the clinical trials of these antibodies for prevention and cure of HIV infection. Now they’re repurposing that technique to fight COVID-19. Meanwhile, Paul Bieniasz and Theodora Hatziioannou, both virologists, are laying the groundwork for the use of convalescent plasma by developing a rapid, straightforward way of determining the level of relevant antibodies in the blood of recovered COVID-19 patients. Charlie Rice, who received the Lasker Award for research that led to the cure of Hepatitis C, is creating high throughput assays to enable development of novel drugs that are tailored to the SARS-CoV-2 virus. And Jean-Laurent Casanova, who has pioneered the discovery of human genes that predispose or protect from specific infections, is studying patients with extreme outcomes of COVID-19.

“Rockefeller has moved rapidly to respond to this crisis,” said SNF Co-President Andreas Dracopoulos. “While the University’s response represents a pivot in focus, the new research projects build directly on essential work Rockefeller scientists have been doing for years. This health crisis will have many stages, and Rockefeller has mobilized a scientific response that addresses near-term treatment needs, the longer-term effort to get the virus under control, and the fundamental science questions underlying our ability to avoid future pandemics. SNF is proud to be a longstanding partner to Rockefeller in its pursuit of basic science for the advancement of medicine.”

Rockefeller’s efforts on COVID-19 and SARS-CoV-2 leverage state-of-the-art facilities like the Stavros Niarchos Foundation – David Rockefeller River Campus and build on a deep history of discovery. Scientists at the University have furnished the keys to addressing critical public health challenges in the past, from the discovery of blood types, which enabled safe transfusions, to showing that viruses can cause cancer, to developing the first vaccine for meningitis. In these urgent and unprecedented circumstances, the University continues to adapt to evolving conditions while pursuing a clear vision for the days, weeks, and months to come. SNF has long been focused on improving quality healthcare for all. In addition to its partnership with Rockefeller, SNF is currently working with the Hospital for Special Surgery, Médecins Sans Frontières, and is in the midst of a $400 million health initiative in Greece which includes the construction of three new hospitals, emergency and diagnostic equipment, trauma care training, nursing education, and infectious disease training.

The new grant to Rockefeller is part SNF’s $100 million global relief initiative to help alleviate the effects of the COVID-19 Pandemic.

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