2021: The year in review | YaleNews – Yale News

By daniellenierenberg

As 2021 draws to a close, COVID-19 remains a pervasive influence over life at Yale and across the world. And yet, even as a new surge in cases portends a winter of uncertainty, a look back at the past year offers many reminders of just how much more we now know about this global threat, the remarkable importance of vaccines and other public health measures, and the resiliency of humankind.

After reviewing the many hundreds of stories published on Yale News this year, we identified several about Yales response to the pandemic that especially resonated with readers and that best capture how the university and our experts have helped make sense of and respond to this disruptive disease. Youll find a list below.

In a second list below, we highlight several non-COVID stories about the people and projects that inspired us and gave us hope for a healthier and more equitable 2022 and the new initiatives that will position the Yale community to be a leader in tackling the challenges of the future.

As the new year began, Yale News reviewed how the campus community pulled together to do the work of the university in the face of unprecedented challenges, and looked ahead to the spring semester.

As chair of the White Houses COVID-19 Equity Task Force, Dr. Marcella Nunez-Smith, the C.N.H Long Professor of Internal Medicine, Public Health, and Management at Yale, became a national voice on racial inequities in COVID-19 treatment and outcomes. Meanwhile, Abbe Gluck, the Alfred M. Rankin Professor of Law and professor of internal medicine at Yale School of Medicine, was named special counsel to the Biden administrations COVID-19 Response team. She also worked in the Office of White House Counsel on other health care issues, including the Affordable Care Act..

In early January, Yale launched its COVID-19 vaccination program in the Lanman Center at Payne Whitney Gymnasium, as vaccines from Moderna and Pfizer gained final approvals for use in the United States.

After spending nearly a year cataloguing and exploring the SARS-CoV-2 genomes intricate makeup, a team of Yale scientists revealed a map of it with an unprecedented level of detail, including more than 100 identifiable structures.

In February, Yale scientists developed a new class of antiviral agents that showed promise for creating COVID-19 therapeutics exhibiting particular effectiveness when used in tandem with the drug remdesivir, another antiviral medication approved for use against the virus.

For most children, COVID-19 infection results in a relatively mild illness. In a few cases, however, a severe immune reaction occurs. During the spring, Yale research found that such rare, life-threatening reactions may be triggered by high levels of alarmins, molecules that make up part of the innate immune system.

The Lanman Center, which early in the pandemic was converted into a field hospital, and later into Yales primary vaccination center, returned to being simply a gym during the summer, as the vaccination operations were shifted to the Rose Center on Ashmun Street.

In July, a Yale-led study found that the COVID-19 vaccination campaign launched in the United States in late 2020 had, at that point, saved some 279,000 lives and prevented 1.25 million hospitalizations. Researchers warned, however, that these gains could be reversed by the highly transmissible Delta variant.

In September, Yale researchers provided important insights into what were then becoming known as breakthrough COVID-19 cases in which fully vaccinated individuals are infected by SARS-CoV-2 and which populations are particularly vulnerable to serious breakthrough illness.

Since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, scientists had been unclear about how long immunity lasts after an unvaccinated person is infected. In October, a Yale-led team of researchers found an answer: Strong protection following natural infection is short-lived, lasting as little as three months or less.

In October, a Yale-led study found that two of the commonly used COVID-19 vaccines provide protection against multiple variants of the virus that causes the disease, including the highly infectious Delta variant. Their findings also showed that those infected with the virus prior to vaccination exhibit a more robust immune response to all variants than those who were uninfected and fully vaccinated.

In November, a study by Yale political scientists and public health experts found that, when it comes to persuading people to get vaccinated against COVID-19, its more effective to appeal to community spirit than to self-interest.

Breakthrough SARS-CoV-2 infections tend to be mild, but Yale research published in December showed that more older adults have developed severe breakthrough cases during the Delta variant phase of the pandemic, particularly after a longer period of time had elapsed since their last vaccination. The findings, researchers say, reveal the importance of booster vaccinations.

White evangelical Christians have resisted getting vaccinated against COVID-19 at higher rates than other religious groups in the U.S. In November, a Yale study found that persuading these vaccine holdouts had only become more difficult.

In December, as a new COVID-19 variant, Omicron, began to spread throughout the world, public health leaders scrambled to better understand how contagious the new variant is and whether existing vaccines are effective against it. Yale doctors offered insights into the emerging threat.

In February, Yale announced the establishment of the Wu Tsai Institute, an ambitious new research enterprise that will supercharge Yales neuroscience initiative and position the university to reveal the brain in its full, dynamic complexity, thanks to a historic gift from Joseph C. Tsai 86, 90 J.D. and his wife, Clara Wu Tsai.

As a historic renovation of the Peabody Museum proceeds, conservator Mariana Di Giacomo is charged with keeping a close eye on the iconic mural The Age of Reptiles, by celebrated artist Rudolph Zallinger. The experience has allowed her to appreciate layers of detail. In February, Yale News caught up with her and shared a dazzling gallery of images.

In a promising early trial, researchers from Yale reported in February that patients with spinal cord injuries experienced substantial improvements in motor function such as the ability to walk or to use their hands after an intravenous injection of bone marrow-derived stem cells.

After 30 months of renovations, the redesigned Humanities Quadrangle formerly the Hall of Graduate Studies put a vibrant new face on Yales longstanding excellence in the humanities. The refurbished building includes dynamic spaces that promote connections among departments and programs and the cultivation of new ideas.

The late Jeremy Ayers once known as the gender-bending performance artist Silva Thin may seem like an unlikely namesake for an ant. But thanks to Yale ecologist Douglas B. Booher and rock star Michael Stipe, who shared a decades-long friendship with Ayers, a new species from the forests of Ecuador will honor his legacy and his reverence for the diversity of life.

During the summer, the university announced that present and future students at Yale Universitys drama school will no longer pay tuition, thanks to a landmark $150 million gift from entertainment executive and philanthropist David Geffen.

Psilocybin, a psychedelic drug found in some mushrooms, has long been studied as a potential treatment for depression. Yale research published in July detailed exactly what happens in the brain after a dose of psilocybin, and what makes its medicinal properties so promising.

In August, Yale scientists published a study of atmospheric patterns on Mars and Saturns moon Titan that will help lay the foundation for more accurate forecasts of weather on other worlds. Researchers say such forecasts will be vital to the safety and success of future research missions.

In 1965, Yale scholars created a sensation with the revelation of the Vinland Map, which was thought to be the earliest known European depiction of the New World. This summer, a team of Yale researchers said it proved the map to be an elaborate 20th-century forgery.

In October, a series of performances by the Yale Glee Club, Yale Bands, and the Yale Symphony Orchestra held in each of Yales residential college courtyards marked a return to live music on campus following a year of lockdowns and a response to the Black Lives Matter protests of 2020. (With video.)

In November, Yale and the City of New Haven reconfirmed their historic, three-century partnership for a new generation, announcing a six-year commitment that increases the universitys annual voluntary financial contribution to the city and creates bold opportunities for inclusive economic growth that benefit the entire community.

Tony Reno, now in his ninth season as head coach of the Yale football team, is more focused on creating a culture of responsibility, camaraderie, and integrity than on wins and losses but that hasnt kept the Bulldogs from finding success on the field.

On the long road to Yale College, Obed Gyedu-Larbi labored as a domestic aide and Greyhound baggage handler. He also founded a non-profit to feed and clothe homeless people in New York City. For me, he said, it was important to not only work hard for myself.

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2021: The year in review | YaleNews - Yale News

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