Council Brother on the Front Lines of the Fight Against COVID-19


Scott Busby Was St. Peter Council 13139's Deputy Grand Knight in 2011 and Grand Knight for a few months in 2012 before his work forced him to transfer to Burlington, MA. Fully expecting to return to Jupiter some day, he has maintained his membership to the St. Peter Knights of Columbus Council 13139.


During his recent dues renewal, he exchanged notes with our Financial Secretary, Paul Davisson. We have decided to publish his note because of his efforts on the front lines against the Coronavirus. Here is his note.

Hi Paul,


Thanks for your recent letter with the membership card and I am glad that you all seem to be enduring the COVID19 situation well down there in Jupiter. I thought I would take the time and give you an update on the work I am doing here at Novartis to fight the Coronavirus. Early into the pandemic, Novartis and many other small and large pharma companies formed a Task-Force to see how collectively, our industry could fight the virus. You probably have heard of the many companies developing vaccines and repurposing other medicines. Novartis has been doing that also with hydroxychloroquine and many other medicines designed to treat the symptoms of critically ill patients but no one currently has anything to attack Covid-19 directly.


In Mid-March, I was approached to be part of a team leading the search to discover new medicine specifically targeting the COVID19 virus itself. I now run a team of 8 Scientists at Novartis and our main job is to develop targeted assays (Experiments) for a given disease target (usually a protein or enzyme we want to turn on or turn off). We then deploy those assays and survey our nearly 2 Million chemical starting points to try to identify and eventually make a drug. For COVID19 my team and I were tasked with that job to try to find a drug to inhibit a key viral protein that the virus uses to keep replicating inside an infected person. Our goal is to have a medicine that if taken early after infection, can stop the exponential replicating of the virus and prevent it from making someone critically ill.


I am happy to report that this effort which has mobilized key drug discovery areas around our company including my team has found a number of key starting points in a matter of weeks (normally this process takes months/years). Advancements in technology and experience from similar projects has helped but the 12-14 days working from home or in the case of my team, going into the lab when everyone else was sheltering to do this important work, has made a key difference. We have partnered also with other big companies such as Takeda, in sharing information and additional chemical starting points just to accelerate this process even faster. It has been amazing to see and our hope is that we can develop a targeted medicine that will work against the COVID19 or any coronavirus that may come up in the future. This target we are working on is common to every coronavirus so we hope not only to be able to treat the current one but have something ready if this ever happens again.


Thanks for your interest in our COVID19 work, I thought it important to share with you and all the Knights the progress being made, and the determination that all of us in this industry have to help people. I truly believe that God has been inspiring all of us to work selflessly for each other and put us in this position to really make a difference for our friends and neighbors. I wish you and all my friends in Jupiter continued good health.


All the best,

-Scott

Thank you, Scott for being an Knight and for all of your hard work against this silent enemy.