IDCRC Investigator Profile: Ann R. Falsey, MD


Dr. Falsey is a professor of infectious diseases in the Department of Medicine at the University of Rochester School of Medicine. In partnership with Angela Branche, MD, they both serve as co-principal investigators for the University of Rochester Vaccine and Treatment Evaluation Unit (UR VTEU).

How long have you worked with a VTEU?

I have been with the VTEU since December 2019. We were awarded the grant as a new VTEU right before the COVID-19 pandemic began. Site Profile

Briefly describe the IDCRC-supported trials you’ve worked on

We worked on all the ACTT trials 1-4. I was also the co-chair for the AstraZeneca (AZ) Phase 3 COVID vaccine. We are a site for MOMI-VAX, Mix-and-Match, and now COVAIL. Learn more about IDCRC Studies

Of these trials, what has been the most impactful or highlight of the work?

It is hard to pick just one, but the top two are the ACTT1 and AZ trials. When ACTT1 began, times were frightening. As both a physician out on the wards taking care of desperately ill people and a researcher with no tools in our vaccine toolbox yet, it was a helpless feeling. I recall vividly the evening when John Beigel (NIAID) arranged an emergency call to tell us the Data and Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB) stopped the study early because Remdesivir worked. It was an emotional experience —both joyful and sad. We had come to know some of placebo patients and felt significant pain for those who passed away.

As the co-chair of the AZ study, it felt like a roller coaster ride with many starts and stops, but I have pride that, although the vaccine will not be used in the U.S., our study contributed to the knowledge base as well as the vaccine becoming a worldwide success. There were more than three billion doses administered throughout the world, with an estimated six million lives saved.

What is a strength or example of the importance of the IDCRC during the pandemic and beyond?

The IDCRC is a great resource to perform relatively small cooperative multisite studies with great speed. It is wonderful to have a mechanism to do trials that are not going to be supported by the pharmaceutical companies.

What do you like to do outside of the VTEU?

Before COVID-19, I was involved in research on the epidemiology, pathogenesis, and vaccine development of RSV in older adult populations. After many years of research, it seems we are nearing the finish line for bringing effective vaccines to fruition, which is exciting. Outside of work, I like to hike, paint, and read.