VPR Distinguished Lecture 2020


J. Patrick Fitch, Ph.D., Associate Laboratory Director at Los Alamos National Laboratory, will present “Multidisciplinary R&D to Improve COVID-19 Understanding and Response”.


Thursday, October 15, 2020


At Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) we are responding to COVID-19 as an employer with over 9,000 staff as well as providing operational support to regional and national stakeholders and decision-makers. We are leveraging our roles in operational support to help focus our R&D investments on improving both response and understanding of the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the associated disease COVID-19. A similar approach has been taken by the Department of Energy (DOE) through its newly formed National Virtual Biotechnology Laboratory (NVBL).

Approaches, results, and impacts will be shared for NVBL and LANL R&D in modeling (epidemiological, molecular genomics, and complex systems), manufacturing, and laboratory testing. Each example will demonstrate the positive impacts that can be achieved by linking multidisciplinary science, technology, and engineering teams with end-users and decision-makers. Our experience is that this approach has made the R&D more impactful.

Pat Fitch serves as the Associate Laboratory Director at Los Alamos National Laboratory (LANL) for Chemical, Earth and Life Sciences. Since March of 2020, he also leads the LANL Special Office for COVID-19 R&D and the Department of Energy (DOE) National Virtual Biotechnology Laboratory (NVBL) COVID-19 Testing Team (NCTT). His expertise is in biosecurity, genomics, biotechnology, medical device design, imaging systems, and computer algorithms and architectures. LANL has programs and capabilities in infectious disease forecasting and modeling (e.g., COVID-19, influenza, dengue), bioinformatics, genomics, biodefense, biomanufacturing, and environmental microbiology.

From 2006 to 2018, Pat was Director of the National Biodefense Analysis and Countermeasures Center. NBACC is a maximum biocontainment center with BSL-2, 3, and 4 laboratories conducting bioforensic analyses and threat characterization for biodefense. Prior to NBACC, Pat worked at Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory (LLNL) for 22 years. Pat has served on advisory and governing boards for five different national laboratories, a regional higher education center, three universities, the US Animal Health Association, and the California State Breast Cancer Research Program. Pat served on the National Science Advisory Board for Biosecurity and chaired and served on several panels of the National Academies.

Pat has a Ph.D. in Electrical Engineering from Purdue University and B.S. degrees in Physics and Engineering Sciences from Loyola College, Maryland.

Acknowledgement and Disclaimer

Research was supported by the DOE Office of Science through the National Virtual Biotechnology Laboratory, a consortium of DOE national laboratories focused on response to COVID-19, with funding provided by the Coronavirus CARES Act.


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*Due to technical difficulties, the beginning of Dr. J. Patrick Fitch’s presentation was not recorded.*