Crain’s Recognizes Dr. Grace McComsey for Bringing Life-saving Therapies to COVID-19 Patients
June 29, 2020
But her impact reaches far beyond COVID-19
UH Clinical Update | July 2020
Grace McComsey, MD, Director of the UH Clinical Research Center, has long been praised in the medical community for her many contributions to HIV research, but it was her herculean efforts to bring the investigational antiviral drug, remdesivir, in the fight against the novel coronavirus to Ohioans that especially caught the attention of Crain's Cleveland Business, earning her recognition as a 2020 Woman of Note.
Dr. McComsey leads the UH Clinical Research Center, the central infrastructure for clinical trials within the health system and is also the Chief of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at UH Rainbow Babies & Children's Hospital.
When COVID-19 hit the U.S., Dr. McComsey's team contacted Gilead Sciences to sign up UH as a clinical trial site for remdesivir. Ohio wasn't even on the list to get the drug, as Ohio had very few cases at that point. She knew it was only a matter of time and refused to be without options for UH patients so Dr. McComsey called the Vice President at Gilead in charge of the entire remdesivir program and made the case for UH to be the first in Ohio to get the study. The VP, having known Dr. McComsey from her HIV research work, agreed and approved UH to participate in the study.
“Within a few hours, Grace's team received the study documents from Gilead and started their work to activate the study in a very efficient and speedy manner," explains Mukesh Jain, MD, UH Chief Academic Officer. “As a result, 100 patients from 10 UH sites across Northeast Ohio received this life-saving drug, experiencing a more favorable outcome than what may have occurred if Grace had not taken such proactive steps."
Dr. McComsey and her team led two clinical trials – one that focused on COVID-19 patients with moderate illness, and one on patients with more severe illness who required care in the ICU. These trials were especially significant because they tested an active antiviral treatment, rather than just supportive care.
But Dr. McComsey's impact reaches far beyond COVID-19. She is an internationally recognized researcher whose work has transformed our understanding of the cardiovascular and metabolic complications of HIV disease. Dr. McComsey's current research efforts focus on the role of immune activation and gut dysfunction in prevalent co-morbidities in children and adults living with HIV.
“Grace successfully led efforts to incredibly alter the prognosis of HIV infection in both children and adults as well as led groundbreaking research to minimize the sequelae of infection and therapy that have led to a significant improvement in quality of life for patients living with this once fatal disease," says Patti DePompei, RN, MSN, President, UH Rainbow and UH MacDonald Women's Hospital.
In addition to her research accomplishments, Dr. McComsey is also well known for her compassionate clinical care of Cleveland's most vulnerable patients. For many years, she has cared for Cleveland children with HIV, ensuring they receive the highest quality, most up-to-date medical treatments.
She is also known among her professional colleagues as an outstanding mentor whose guidance and sponsorship has advanced the career of numerous mentees who have gone on to make life changing discoveries.
“Grace is an exemplary leader who thoughtfully seizes on important new opportunities to advance the science of healthcare while also growing and mentoring rising researchers," says Marlene Miller, MD, Pediatrician-in-Chief, University Hospitals and Chair, Department of Pediatrics at UH Rainbow Babies and Children's Hospital.