During my undergraduate years, we elected Craig L. Slingluff Jr. (Col ’80, Med ’84) Honor chairman. If there had been a vote for most likely to succeed, the pre-med Echols Scholar would have won that election too. Now that he’s been dividing his time between curing cancer and ending COVID, we’d like him to succeed even more.
Slingluff, a cancer surgeon on the UVA medical faculty, answered a call last spring to apply his decades-long work on a melanoma vaccine to COVID. He holds no illusions of coming in first in the race for a coronavirus vaccine. Rather, he envisions his team’s project coming to market in a later wave, replacing the early efforts with a more effective solution, one that could also serve as a template for combating future SARS coronaviruses.
I asked Slingluff whether the quick pivot was detracting from his cancer progress. He insists not; each project informs the others. “It’s mostly just working more. I work all the time anyway, but a little extra,” he says.
To his point, I reached Slingluff midweek of his vacation, a day he had spent performing surgery, appearing before UVA’s coronavirus research board, leading a two-hour webinar and, come nightfall, patiently explaining to me the use of protein fragments (“peptides”) to trigger T-cell immune response. Science writer Caroline Kettlewell, who actually understands what I just wrote, catches up with Slingluff herself in the COVID research roundup.
For summer, we produced a special issue to cover UVA amid the novel coronavirus. Six months later, it’s not so novel anymore. For this issue, we’ve dropped the “special” but not the coverage. Associate Editor Ed Miller masks up to go inside the classroom for a look through the plexiglass.
We again check in with alumni on the front lines, this time not just those in health care but also Wahoos in other lines in point-blank range of the pandemic.
This issue isn’t only about COVID. We figured you could use a respite from disease, so we also offer destruction. Enjoy Sanjay Suchak’s devastating photography of the demolition of the storied Alderman Stacks.
Richard Gard (Col ’81)
Vice President, Communications, UVA Alumni Association