In this week’s Knights Do That episode, we speak with UCF grad Darin Edwards ’97 ’10MS ’11PhD, director of immunology at Moderna.

Edwards earned his bachelor’s degree in biology, master’s degree in  master’s degree in molecular biology and doctorate in biomedical sciences with a focus on neuroscience at UCF in 2011 and has an impressive resume including, most recently leading the research and development for the COVID-19 vaccine. Edwards discusses what it was like working on the COVID-19 vaccine, the moment it was released and what he looks forward to most as we approach a return to pre-pandemic work and life.

Edwards is also the cover story in the summer issue of Pegasus magazine.

Produced by UCF, the podcast highlights students, faculty, staff, administrators and alumni who do incredible things on campus, in the community and around the globe.

Subscribe
Zoom screen shot of Darin Edwards and Alex Cumming
Darin Edwards joined the Knights Do That podcast over a video call from his home office.
Transcript

Darin Edwards:  Honestly it was one of the best moments of my life — seeing those pictures of my parents with needles in arms, it was so incredibly satisfying and emotional at the same time. It was one of the main drivers of the work that I did, and knowing that shortly after they got that dose, that they were going to be protected and they were not going to have a severe outcome to this horrible disease, it was such an amazing moment for me.

Alex Cumming: I recently had the pleasure of speaking with Darren Edwards, a UCF alum and the director of immunology at Moderna. You know that company who developed a COVID 19 vaccine? Darren earned his bachelor’s degree in biology master’s degree in molecular biology and doctorate in biomedical sciences with a focus on neuroscience at UCF in 2011. Darren has an impressive resume from computer programming to, of course, most recently leading the research for the COVID-19 vaccine and a deep love for all things UCF, especially in Knights Football.

We get into what it was like working on the vaccine, the moment it was released and what he looks forward to most,as we approach a return to pre-pandemic work and life.

When you started, you were working out in programming before pursuing your master’s and then getting your Ph.D. in biomedical sciences. How did you know that it was time to pursue a new interest to go back to school?

Darin Edwards: I actually joined a company called Gardner back during the whole dot-com boom. As I had some experience developing a software that was after I did my undergraduate work at UCF. When I got my degree in biology and molecular biology, always intending to go to the next step, to get my Ph.D. But as you know, when you’re young in your early 20s, money does draw. So I wanted to make a bit of money before I went back and did my Ph.D. work. That actually lasted all the way through my 20s. So all the way till I was almost 30. And although I was good at programming, it wasn’t a passion.

My passion was really geared more toward helping people, doing things that might have more of an impact on global health. So I saw the opportunity to rejoin UCF’s graduate program. And I  jumped at it, went back to school and not only changed my focus, but obviously changed my whole career.

Alex Cumming: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, your time at UCF when you’re so young and still figuring out what it is that you’re so interested in, the ability to get to research and experiment with so many different ventures, it gives you really a lot of opportunities to figure out what it is you want to pursue in the long-term, right?

Darin Edwards: Yeah. And, you know, I had that both from the undergraduate perspective, but also the graduate perspective. As an undergraduate, just the breadth of courses that UCF offers really gave me a chance to not only explore the field that I planned to go into, but also to touch on other areas, other aspects of industry or areas of work that I might want to explore in the future. I had somewhat of a foundation in computers prior to the undergraduate time, but I took some computer courses during the time when I was more focused on biology and molecular biology. And that allowed me to actually get into the computer field.

But going back as, a graduate student, one of the really nice things that UCF provides and the system that UCF has is there’s a lot of allowance for quite a bit of independence and allowing young scientists, in my case to, grow not only from the perspective of coursework and learning the field in general, but also by allowing students to explore, to develop themselves, to be intellectually curious and to go off on tangents and directions that they might not necessarily be directly focused on.

It allows for people after that academic time to really be comfortable in situations where you just have to think outside of the box. And I think all of us have situations like that in our careers and laying the foundation during the academic time is very important.

Alex Cumming: I like what you said there about the independence to get out and study. Maybe that’s not the career path you go down, but just the moments you had in there, who knows where something you picked up or something you realize it’s going to come back in the bigger picture and say, you know, I picked up on that and I thought that was really nice.

Darin Edwards:  It makes it fun, too. You know, being able to do something, out of the box, take a course in in bowling, for example. I did that as an undergraduate. It was a lot of fun. Incorporating fun, incorporating adventure during your academic time is very important and I think a UCF provides that freedom.

Alex Cumming:  How cool. I can imagine that with the rigor and the stress of all the computing that you’re doing in your major, the ability to go out and knock down a few pins is probably a little bit, it’s probably a little satisfying.

Darin Edwards: There were a few pints kicked back.

Alex Cumming: Well, that’s what you gotta do when you’re out bowling. You worked long hours for day after day and months to develop this vaccine. What were some of the things that you thought about daily that kept you motivated while you were working so hard?

Darin Edwards: Well, I mean, the obvious answer is the pandemic. Being in a situation, a unique situation where I could directly affect how long the pandemic was going to last and also get us back to work, get us back to play, but also to prevent those unfortunate situations where people became very ill and died — that was the, the natural motivator to keep me going.

My teammates though, in addition to just the pandemic focus, just seeing the sacrifice that was being made across the whole company and not only across the company, but collaborators that we had throughout the pandemic, seeing the sacrifice that was being made by individuals across the globe. Who would I have been  to not sacrifice myself and, you know, give up family time to, give up time spent with friends. It was a worthwhile effort. And I was happy to give that part of myself. And fortunately it was very successful.

If you give that much to an effort, you naturally want it to have a successful outcome. And I think, obviously with people getting vaccinated and seeing that restrictions are being lifted, case numbers are dropping it’s very satisfying and I’m very happy to have done that for so long.

Alex Cumming: Well, thank you so much. And congratulations.

Darin Edwards: Thank you.

Alex Cumming: To put all the work in that you did throughout that time, getting people back to a sense of normalcy, that they can go out and be with their loved ones. So thank you again for doing what you did so that people can experience time with their loved ones they might not have been able to see for over a year, maybe close to 15 months.

Darin Edwards: Yeah. And you know, there was my own personal aspect to the whole thing, knowing that I have elderly parents, knowing that they were at high risk for severe outcome to COVID-19. That was a personal driver for me.

More than just myself, obviously I wanted to get out and play and not be worried about a disease, but I’m younger. I’m not in such a high risk category. My parents and loved ones in that age range were obviously a particular motivator for me.

Alex Cumming: Right. So when your parents got the first dose of the vaccine, how was that as an experience for yourself?

Darin Edwards: It was, you know, honestly it was one of the best moments of my life. Seeing those pictures of my parents with needles in arms — they actually got their first and second dose at the Orange County Convention Center.

They went through that whole process, that whole cue where, they drove in with their car. My sister actually took them and it was a very smooth and good process. You know, you should be proud what orange county did down there to make it so easy. But she took pictures of each as they got their dose, and it was so incredibly satisfying and emotional at the same time. It was one of the, like I mentioned, one of the main drivers of the work that I did.

And knowing that shortly after they got that dose, that they were going to be protected and they were not going to have a severe outcome to this horrible disease. It was, it was such an amazing moment for me.

Alex Cumming: Yeah, I believe it. That sounds fantastic. In a personal sense and in a professional sense, how were you able to manage such intense work pressure for it all?

Darin Edwards: That’s a good question. Sometimes. I’m really not completely sure how, not only myself, but other members of the Moderna team that I’m partnered with, how we’ve all managed. I think in part it’s just, we really had to focus on many different areas into different aspects simultaneously. One interesting thing is, during this time we’ve not only been pushing forward this COVID vaccine and working long hours in highly stressful situations to get this forward. We’ve also recognized that this is an opportunity to leverage our mRNA platform against other infectious disease targets. So we’ve had to juggle not only the development of this vaccine, but also growing the company. That’s outside of the scope of the conversation today, but that has obviously increased the amount of work in parallel to obviously all the work that we’ve performed on that on the COVID vaccine.

One way that I’ve managed it is recognizing those areas that I need to focus on and areas that maybe don’t require my direct input, and growing my team, developing my team to cover those areas that maybe I don’t have to have all of the interaction, all of the focus on. That has helped.

In addition to that, we’ve leveraged partnerships. We partnered with the NIH on this effort and not only partnered with the NIH, but partnered with the top people at the NIH. Dr. Barney Graham and his team at the VRC, the vaccine research center, has really assisted and helped in developing, this COVID vaccine, and having such key scientific minds, such amazing researchers engaged in this effort has helped with workload, has helped with stress. Because when you’re talking to the key scientists the top minds the world, and you’re coming to a path forward with them, you have confidence. And that confidence in our approach and our strategy, although, there’s been a lot of stress along the way, at least we’ve had confidence throughout in the approach that we’ve taken.

Alex Cumming: It sounds like the team building, the work that you do with the people around you, that you can’t bear the load all on your own.

Darin Edwards: Yeah. And that’s been a key driver for me, in addition to the vaccine. Developing teams getting people to grow and develop and leveraging that growth in the work that we do not only helps with the workload, not only helps with the stress, but there’s a huge degree of satisfaction seeing people develop and grow. That’s something that drives me every day, as well.

Alex Cumming: Madrona is a smaller company in comparison to the other corporations that were developing the vaccine. How did such a small team that you were working with do such and achieve big things?

Darin Edwards: I mean, short answer, blood, sweat, and tears.

But a longer answer there’s several areas, several parts to that answer.

One, we have a platform technology that enables us to do a lot with a small number of people. When you’re talking about traditional vaccine technologies, you’re talking about developing each one on an individual basis. As we are a platform company, we can use the same manufacturing line. We can use the same processes for all of our vaccine efforts or even all of our therapeutic vaccine efforts. So technologically that’s one aspect where we have an advantage.

But it is a small team. We are at the start of the pandemic, I think the total employee count at Moderna was less than 1,000. Contrast that to Pfizer, Johnson and Johnson, they have over 100,000 employees. So what that meant is a team that may number in the thousands at these larger companies, you know, you’re talking about a small number of people in each team at Moderna. In fact, the core team at Moderna is probably 10 to 15 people total.

So that meant each one of us covering specific areas of this developmental effort had to do what teams of hundreds or thousands were doing it at these larger companies.

Fortunately these key areas were covered by the most talented, innovative dedicated people I’ve ever had the opportunity to work with. People that were entirely focused on the mission and performed above and beyond and I think the outcome really reflects that.

You know, I cover research — that’s the area that I cover, you know, the development of the vaccine, the evaluation of the vaccine in animal models. And then the technological aspects and how the vaccine is working, that’s my area of coverage. I was part of the initial conversation after we got the sequence of SARS-CoV-2, how are we going to tackle this? Okay, here’s what we’re going to do. And two days later we had our vaccine and we had the process of evaluating.

But there’s other areas involved in the developmental process — things like interacting with the FDA or health agencies around the world, communications with them. Running clinical trials, manufacturing the vaccine, scaling up to a billion doses. That’s a huge thing. And each one of those areas was covered by an incredibly talented, innovative person.

And no matter what the issue was, no matter how complex, they found a solution. And it enabled us to do in 11 months, what had never been done in that short a period of time. In some ways it was an asset. At a larger company, you’re going through multiple steps, informing, different groups, identifying strategies and paths forward.

At our company, it’s a small group. It limited the amount of information driven conversations that we needed to have. So we’re always just focused on the goal. Okay. What do we do? Okay. Here’s what we’re going to do. Let’s do it. It allowed us to move very quickly. You know, I could pick up the phone at any moment, talk to anybody in my company, from the CEO down. That’s a rare situation. And it enabled us do what we did, but really it’s the dedication and the talent of the people that enabled this to happen.

Alex Cumming: With a team like this, these are people that you’re not going to forget when you go through something like this. So to have such a team that came so close together, I’m certain you guys will remember each other for years and years and years to come.

Darin Edwards:  When you’re in high school, you always look forward to the 10-year reunion, 20-year reunion. I wouldn’t be surprised if this core group of people had these reunions, 10, 20, 30 years down the road. And I look forward to that.

You know, during the whole process, people would say, “Oh, this is incredibly hard. But wow what an opportunity.” And one response that I had pretty commonly, “This has been amazing. I can’t wait to look back on it.” Because it was so difficult in the moment, but recognizing that it is a unique and amazing journey that we had gone on and continued to go on. But and I know in hindsight, it’s going to be a lot more pleasant than it was during.

Alex Cumming: Oh, yeah. I definitely believe it. But to keep such an optimistic outlook on it in the moment, knowing that in retrospect, it’s one of those situations where you’re like, won’t this be a story? Won’t this be something to share, to tell, you know, the people that I meet, the people who come around me, that I was there. I developed it. I set the world back on path.

Darin Edwards: I’ve already had the opportunity in a few cases to have those conversations with friends down there in Orlando coming down.

I have lifelong friends that live down there and just kind of sharing how it was with people that I love has been as been a lot of fun. I kind of look forward to the day where those conversations have already even been had. And I can just get back to life as normal. But at the same time, it’s definitely something that I’m happy I’ve been a part

Alex Cumming: I bet it’s a great icebreaker at parties.

Darin Edwards: I’ll let you know when I start going to parties.

Alex Cumming: Well, thank you for letting us go back to parties. I appreciate it. So as the lead for the research and the development as the director of immunology at Moderna, what was the process of creating the vaccine like?

Darin Edwards: So I’ll start back in late 2019. So there were reports coming out of a new respiratory virus that was circulating in Wuhan, China. Our CEO actually contacted the director of the NIH before there were even news reports really circulating about this and said that, hey, you know, we probably should start up a vaccine program just in case it’s needed.

So January 11, the sequence to that virus was posted on Twitter actually. And that day we had a meeting with the NIH, Dr. Barney Graham and his team specifically. We, at that time, had identified that it was a novel coronavirus, one that had not previously appeared. And we at that moment decided that, yes, let’s go ahead and start the process of developing a vaccine.

The process though starts years in the past. In the years in the past, we had developed the mRNA platform. We had tested it in multiple clinical trials, although we hadn’t yet had a licensed product because it typically takes more than a decade to develop that and get to licensure.

But we also had a four-year collaboration with the same team at the NIH on MERS, which is a Middle Eastern coronavirus. So we already knew how to tackle coronaviruses and specifically how to tackle them with a messenger RNA vaccine approach. So we applied that very quickly.

Two days later we had our vaccine. So that quickly, we were able to develop the approach. By January 13th, we met again, we aligned on the specific approach and specific sequence that we were actually going to deliver. And 42 days later, we had our clinical trial material. And even before that, we already had our preclinical vaccine material.

So by the end of January, I held the vaccine in my hand and that was January of 2020. And before the pandemic was even declared, we were already testing it in people. So, the vaccine effort has a foundation built on years of research. A vaccine effort in general though, you know, once you have identified an approach — which we had very quickly, like I mentioned — then relies on extensive research in preclinical models and also three different clinical study phases — Phase one, two, and three. And unlike normal situations where you would do that sequentially, we did all that incredibly comprehensively in parallel to enable us to shorten the whole timeline. ]

One reason you don’t normally do that is cost. So the government support that we were given really helped with compressing those timelines. But I would say this effort that we did was more comprehensive in terms of science than any effort that I’ve ever been part of. And I’ve been a part of, more than 10 different vaccine efforts between my time at Sanofi Pasteur and now at Moderna.

From a scientific evaluation standpoint, from a comprehensive nature, it’s truly amazing how much work was done in such a short period of time and the quality of that work. And that was a lot in large part driven by the quality of the people, the quality of the scientific laboratories that were performing the work and just the dedication that was being given to the whole process.

Alex Cumming: Would you say a lot of that was stemming from that it was a day to day issue and that there was such an outcry for it. And that there was such pressure externally to say, we can see day to day how this is going along within people, that we have this time crunch, that the sooner, the better?

Darin Edwards: It was that, and it was the focus that was being paid to this problem by top academics, by top government agencies, by my team at Moderna, by everybody in the entire world. And barriers, you know, one of the things that really helped with this whole process is how barriers that are normally there in research were broken down.

Being able to engage with these experts in the academic space and being able to discuss and tackle problems and partneshipr with even other industry representatives — being able to given the resources and the time at the FDA, in a way that we probably would not normally expect. We can pick up the phone and ask them questions or get feedback very quickly from them.

It all worked together to enable us to compress these timelines as quickly to as short a timeline and a process as what we ended up having. But really overall being able to work as a team and not just as a team at Moderna, but as a team globally to get the information we needed, to get the resources we needed when we needed them.

Alex Cumming: And you said that you had worldwide outreach with people you were discussing with to see how they were coming along with it all, along with being able to talk to anyone within your company, you said from the CEO to people, the people that you needed to speak to with.

Darin Edwards: Yeah. I’ll, give you a couple of examples.

One I’ve mentioned it before, but the partnership with the NIH and the laboratories  and the personnel at the NIH, I mean, they work just as hard as we did. And I can recall several instances where we had a particular investigation that we were performing and we needed the data back on an immediate basis and having conversations and meetings at 3 a.m. to make this happen. And there was not a single time where I was unable to get in touch with somebody that I needed to talk to on an immediate basis.

But another example is. The scientific community up in Boston is very strong, both academically and from industry. And the focus of all of those bright minds were turned from the various research efforts that they had going on towards coronavirus and consortiums were put in place. And all of those efforts were really focused back on, on coronavirus. And what that led to is not only identification of the areas that we should be investigating for our vaccine, but also the ability to engage with them to make that happen. Particular safety concerns, for example, that we should be investigating prior to putting this in people. But other areas as well that, we might want further insight and further study into. And that goes beyond just our effort, that goes towards Johnson & Johnson or Pfizer.

The investigator that actually developed the Johnson & Johnson vaccine, I’ve had several dozen conversations with early on during his efforts. In fact, I have a cell review article on the adenovirus vaccine technology and the mRNA vaccine technology with him. Just so people had a greater understanding of what our technology actually does and how it works.

And that openness really helped to not only make the work more palatable, meaning, when you’re open and you’re having, good work situations with people like that, it makes a stressful situation not as stressful. But also I think for all of us that enabled us to identify those critical things that we needed to work on.

Alex Cumming: You’ve been working in your field for more than a decade. With this past year and a half, what new lessons did you learn?

Darin Edwards: You know, the first decade of my career in vaccine development really helped set the foundation of how I could operate in this last year and a half. But there were, I mean, literally hundreds of situations that I had never encountered, or my team had never encountered prior to the start of the pandemic.

Leveraging what I had from UCF, leveraging the time that I spent at Sanofi Pasteur and helped with those situations. But really we had to come up with a new road map. We really had to develop a new approaches and new strategies on the fly. And a lot of times it just came down to as a core team— I mentioned the 10 to 15 critical people that were working during this time — we just came up with strategies and worked through them in our minds and on paper and identified the path and the strategy that we thought would be most effective.

Fortunately, you know, those road maps seem to have led to the outcome that we needed it to. And I think it’s obvious that it was successful. But I mean there was worry, there was a stress along the way, not really knowing if what we were doing would ultimately be as effective as what we were hoping for.

When we hit certain milestones — when we fully enrolled our phase three trial, for example, when we got the outcome, when we found out that we were 94.1% efficacious against any disease and 100% against severe disease — it not only validated the work, the path that we took, but it was incredibly satisfying.

Those moments, knowing that that we were going to be successful.

Alex Cumming: Many scientists are saying that this won’t be our last pandemic. What do you think are the lessons that we should learn for being better prepared for future ones?

Darin Edwards: As I’m more research focused and more vaccine development focused, one of the things that really benefited us for this pandemic is that we did have new technologies that could rapidly respond. And we did have an understanding of coronaviruses in general from a research perspective.

So that foundational research, it’s very important that we continue, and continue to develop our platform techniques that we can use for a future pandemic, but also for key viruses or our pathogens that we know have the potential to become pandemics, develop our understanding of those viruses to enable us to very quickly and rapidly respond with confidence should another pandemic arise.

You think about coronavirus in general, it could evolve further. We’ve had three recent potential pandemic coronavirus strains: SARS-CoV-1, MERS and now SARS-CoV-2. Fortunately the first two didn’t evolve into a pandemic. Public health measures actually have controlled those two, although MERS is still around. It has not turned into a pandemic virus.

But further monitoring and assessing approaches that we can take to maybe develop approaches even now that can more universally protect against all these potential pandemic coronaviruses is one strategy that we plan to explore and others plan to explore, but we need a focus to remain on that.

Influenza is another, we have a seasonal influenza vaccine. We’re developing one at Moderna as well hopefully, which is more effective than the current seasonal viruses, but there are pandemic flu strains, so continued monitoring efforts and continue to research efforts in order to develop novel approaches that could tackle very quickly these pandemic strains should they arise.

I think there’s also a regulatory aspect. The regulatory process that we went through this past year was a huge part of the time that we spent during the 11 month cycle, prior to the EUA (emergency use authorization). There might be additional and quicker regulatory processes that we could put in place for pandemic situations that would enable a more rapid response.

Alex Cumming: You know, the last year has given so many people so much to reflect on in themselves and how they interact with the world. And I think that coming out with the vaccine and being able to reassess what we might have taken for granted and how we go back into our normal day-to-day lives realizing what’s important to us, keeping in mind that there are people that have been working tirelessly to make sure that so that this doesn’t happen again.

And for us to reflect and understand how we as individuals contribute to the greater picture, I think that’s important to keep in mind.

Darin Edwards: Yeah, definitely. You know, it makes me reflect how much I miss seeing UCF football. I look forward to flying down for a couple of games this fall. But I really miss the opportunities that I think we’ve all missed this past year — spending time with friends, having vacations, having downtime, having fun moments with family. I don’t think I’m unique in missing all of those parts of our lives that we took for granted, and we probably shouldn’t take those for granted.

I mean, I don’t think the last year was a situation that we should ever consider to be normal.I’m happy to be part of the solution to get us back to normal. But I think we should all expect and want, things to be normal and for us to remain there. So reflecting on what is important — I just think that normal state, being able to freely get back and blow off steam by going golfing or going to the beach or going to a UCF football game.

I think that all is very important. And I look forward to that.

Alex Cumming: Well, as a big UCF sports fan,  football and otherwise, thank you. I’m so excited to see all the fans, making it loud  in the Bounce House and…

Darin Edwards: Let’s make it bounce…

Alex Cumming: all around campus. I love to hear that. So, Darren what’s advice that you would give to somebody who wants to do what you’ve done in your career?

Darin Edwards: I think the best advice I can give is, to be flexible, to adjust to situations, to not be afraid, to take chances and take risks, and to approach each situation uniquely.

As a scientist, as somebody that has had more than one career up to this point, there’s evolution that goes on from a personal and professional level within each role. And I think the best advice I can give for any field for person in any industry in any field is to not be afraid to evolve. And to develop and to be loud when necessary, to give your  perspective and to rely a lot of times on personal intuition.

But also to be good to the people that you work with and work for you. That’s very important to me — to look for areas and ways that you can develop your team to not only support you, but also to push their careers forward. It pays off from a satisfaction level, but also it pays off from the standpoint of, you have people that you can rely on that have greater capabilities.

But overall, you know, just that flexibility, just move forward in the way that you think. Don’t think that you’ll be doing the same thing for a long period of time. Nothing stays the same. Be willing to change along with, your changing job or your changing field.

Alex Cumming: Being open to being flexible, being open to new opportunities when they present themselves.

Darin Edwards: Exactly. I mean, I think that not only goes for your job, but life in general. We’re constantly changing as people, growing, new family started we always need to adjust to the situation.

Alex Cumming: Well, I mean, on a school level, taking account of your major and maybe saying, you know, maybe this isn’t for me, maybe I want to try dabbling in this.

Darin Edwards: Yeah. And just kind of jumping around, even if you aren’t changing your major, maybe take a few classes outside of your major just to see what other perspectives that might bring you. And in careers, it’s valuable that you have breadth. It allows you to pull from multiple disciplines where perhaps other people that don’t have that breadth are not able to very quickly pivot or evolve as quickly as somebody that has more breadth and more depth.

And I think that is good advice, no matter who you are at what stage in your life.

Alex Cumming: Or taking a bowling class to blow off some steam.

Darin Edwards: Hey, nothing wrong with blowing off steam.

Alex Cumming: Not at all. What’s one thing that you’re still hoping to do?

Darin Edwards: Well, I think at some point I’d really love to go skydiving.

That’s a good question. I haven’t really given it — what’s next, I haven’t really given that much thought yet. I think there are from the job that I still have and still love and enjoy, there are a lot of infectious disease targets that are next, ones that we’re going to plan to use our technology to tackle.

And that’s an ongoing process and an ongoing effort and from a professional standpoint and from a scientific standpoint, that’s what’s next for us. What’s next for me is, I do look forward to getting back to normal life and going to parties and hopefully going golfing occasionally and getting down for a UCF football game.

But also just to continue to push. We still have a lot of work to do. Not only on the current pandemic, you know, it’s not over in most of the world. We’re lucky here in the U.S. but it’s not over in other countries, so there’s still work to be done there. But also outside of the pandemic, there’s still work to be done against infectious disease in general, not only against the ones that we currently should be fighting, but also ones that could emerge in the future, future pandemics, for example.

Alex Cumming:  Yeah. Well, Darren, I want to say thank you so much for talking with me today. It’s been such a pleasure and an honor to get to hear from you and to hear your perspective on everything.

Darin Edwards: Thank you so much.

Alex Cumming: Congratulations. And I hope to get to see you at a football game this

fall.

Darin Edwards: Hey, I’ll be cheering my head off.

Alex Cumming: Good to talk with you.

Darin Edwards: Yep.

Let’s go Knights!

Alex Cumming:  Charge on.

Thanks again for listening. Be sure to stream and download on whatever platform you use to listen to podcasts. I hope you’re enjoying learning how Knights are making a positive impact in our community, our nation and the world. And hey, if you’re doing something cool, whether that’s at UCF or somewhere you took UCF that we should know about wend us an email at [email protected], and maybe we’ll see you on an episode in the future. Go Knights and Charge On.