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April 10, 2020 by Adam Fisher

What Did You Do In World War Flu Grandpa?

My Dad enlisted in the US Army on October 16,1941.  His 'hitch' would have been up in one year had it not been for the attack on Pearl Harbor.  He wound up serving till mid-1945 and thankfully, returned to my Mom and lived many years.   He did his part and then some.

We've all seen the movies that show a child asking their grandparent, "What did you do in the war Grandpa?"  My Dad had a good anwer.  

No grandkids here yet, but when the day comes, I think I too will have a good answer. 

"Grandpa (my actual grandfather name will be '007'...) wasn't on the front lines during the COVID-19 war.  He wasn't a doctor or nurse, nor was he a first responder.  But, Grandpa did his part.  He kept socially distant from loved ones and friends.  When he did venture out to shop, he wore a face mask and rubber gloves.  He washed his hands until they  were raw and always coughed into his elbow.   He also was one of the few lucky ones who continued to work.  Unlike many, whose jobs were put on hold or eliminated when the economy came to a standstill, Grandpa worked for a company that provided equipment and services to pharmaceutical, biotech, government and academic research and testing labs.   Those labs were staffed with other brave souls who put themselves and their loved ones at risk trying find therapeutic treatments or vaccines that would save millions of lives."

"One day, Grandpa got a call from a very respected man at a lab in New Jersey who was trying to increase his companies' ability to test patients to determine if they had been exposed to this awful virus.  He needed a robot and he needed one fast.  He needed one that could transfer patient samples from test tubes into microplates so that they could be run on a Thermo Kingfisher Flex (it used magnetic bead technology to extract viral RNA to diagnose patients on a RT-PCR instrument).  They were doing this transfer manually and since the company was running '24/7/365' it took a lot people to prepare the samples    Grandpa's company was able to completely refurbish, configure, program and ship a Tecan EVO 150 liquid handling robot in less than 5 days (including a weekend).  His client was then able to use the robot to prepare close to 100 patient samples at a time, in just a few minutes.  Another nine duplicate robots were then ordered to increase that new capability."

"Everybody had a role to play in order to beat the virus.   Grandpa wasn't the person who refurbished the robot, nor was he the person who programmed or shipped the robot.  He was just a guy, sitting at his desk who was there to answer a call to help a friend fighting on the front lines. 


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