WEBINAR: Conversations at the Buck, The COVID-19 Pandemic

Informed, evidence-based perspectives about the COVID-19 pandemic.
Scroll down to view session recordings.

The Buck is the world’s premier scientific research institute focused solely on the biology of aging. For more than 20 years our mission has been to end the threat of age-related disease to help people live better longer. Because the novel coronavirus disproportionately impacts adults over 60 we know that our expertise is critical, and that is why we have refocused the work of many of our labs to join the fight against COVID-19.

During this time of disruption, we are eager to lean into our scientific expertise to fight this virus – a fight which includes a commitment to provide the public with evidence-based information on health and disease.

We have a network of colleagues both inside and outside of the Buck who have important perspectives on how to think about, deal with, and potentially treat this pandemic. We feel privileged to be able to share their insights with you in a special web series focused on COVID-19.

Between April 15, 2020 and July 14, 2020, we had the privilege of speaking with leaders in health care, epidemiology, and molecular biology to bring an array of perspectives to this global health crisis. A video recording of each session is below the list of speakers. Scroll down to see what they had to say.

April 15, 2020 - July 14, 2020
We will send out a zoom link the day before your scheduled session, and a reminder email the morning of the session.


Eric Verdin, MD

April 15, 2020

Larry Brilliant, MD, MPH

April 27, 2020

Melanie Ott, MD, PhD

April 29, 2020

John Newman, MD, PhD

May 4, 2020

Nevan Krogan, PhD

May 6, 2020

Matt Willis, MD

June 10, 2020

Kevin Tracey, MD

June 18, 2020

Robert Gallo, MD

June 24, 2020

Warner Greene, MD, PhD

June 29, 2020

Susan Desmond Hellmann, MD, MPH

July 8, 2020

Robert Redfield, MD

July 14, 2020


Below are the video archives of these recent Conversations at the Buck.
Discover how scientists are thinking about, dealing with, and working to stop the COVID-19 pandemic.

Dr. Eric Verdin:
President and CEO, Buck Institute
Recorded: Wednesday, April 15, 2020

President and CEO of the Buck since November 2016, Eric was previously associate director and senior investigator at the Gladstone Institute for Virology and Immunology and has held faculty positions at the University of Brussels, the National Institutes of Health, and the Picower Institute for Medical Research.

Eric is also currently a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco. A native of Belgium, he earned his MD from the University of Liege and completed additional training at Harvard Medical School.

The Verdin lab focuses on how nutrition modulates immune system aging. In response to the current pandemic, the lab is now researching the over-active innate immune response implicated in many deaths from COVID-19. Eric is leading an international collaborative team which is investigating the role of metabolism and evaluating 69 potential drugs that act on molecular targets of the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Larry Brilliant, MD, MPH
Chair, Ending Pandemics
Recorded: Monday, April 27, 2020

Larry is the board chair of the nonprofit Ending Pandemics and senior advisor to the Skoll Global Threats Fund. He was previously the head of Google’s philanthropic arm and is co-founder of the Seva Foundation, a nonprofit that has restored vision to more than 5 million people in over 20 countries. He has worked with four presidents, the United Nations, G8, and chaired the National Biosurveillance Advisory Subcommittee.

Board-certified in preventive medicine, Larry lived in India for more than a decade working as a United Nations medical officer where he played a key role in the successful World Health Organization smallpox eradication program. In 2006 Larry received the TED Prize for his plan of early detection and early response to global pandemics. He was senior technical advisor for the 2011 pandemic horror film Contagion.

Melanie Ott, MD, PhD
Senior Investigator, Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology
Professor, Medicine, University of California, San Francisco
Recorded: Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Melanie is a senior investigator at the Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology and a Professor of Medicine at UCSF. She got her MD at the University of Frankfurt/Main and her PhD in molecular medicine from the Picowar Graduate School. Before establishing her lab at the Gladstone, she ran a research group at the German Cancer Research Group.

The Ott lab has focused mostly on HIV and Hepatitis C. Following the breakout of COVID-19, Melanie quickly established a Biosafety Level 3 lab at Gladstone and is working with Dr. Jennifer Doudna to develop a CRISPR-based COVID-19 diagnostic assay. As part of an international effort, Melanie is researching how SARS-CoV-2 attacks lung tissue and which potential drugs might counter the effects.

John Newman, MD, PhD
Assistant Professor, Buck Institute
Assistant Professor, Division of Geriatrics, UCSF Medicine
Recorded Monday, May 4, 2020

John is an assistant professor at the Buck and at the Division of Geriatrics at UCSF. He is a board-certified geriatrician and practices medicine at UCSF and the San Francisco VA Medical Center. He completed his MD/PhD at the University of Washington.

The Newman lab focuses on how diet and fasting, and specifically the ketone body beta-hydroxybutyrate (BHB), regulate aging pathways. As a physician, he is focused on preventing delirium and preserving mobility in hospitalized patients. As an expert on the physiology of older adults, John addresses the particular vulnerability of those over 60 to COVID-19, and he promotes safe practices for older adults and their caregivers.

Nevan Krogan, PhD
Director, Quantitative Biosciences Institute at University of California, San Francisco
Senior Director, Gladstone Institute
Adjunct faculty, Buck Institute
Recorded: Wednesday, May 6, 2020

Nevan is the director of the Quantitative Biosciences Institute at UCSF. He is also a senior director at the Gladstone Institutes, faculty at the Helen Diller Family Comprehensive Cancer Center, director at the Thermo Fisher Scientific Proteomics Facility for Disease Target Discovery, and adjunct faculty at the Buck. He received his PhD from the University of Toronto.

Since the outbreak of COVID-19 in China, the Krogan lab has been singularly focused on understanding how SARS-CoV-2—the virus that causes the disease—hijacks the machinery of human cells to replicate itself. The Krogan lab has identified all the human proteins that interact with SARS-CoV-2. Nevan is now spearheading the QBI Coronavirus Research Group, an international collaboration to test 69 potential drugs against the virus.

Dr. Matt Willis
Marin County Public Health Officer
Recorded: Wednesday, June 10th

Dr. Matt Willis has been the Marin County Public Health Officer since 2013. A Marin native, he completed his MD at Temple University and both medical residency and a Masters in Public Health at Harvard University. He spent time as the US Public Health Service Director of Primary Care on the Navajo Nation and did research at the Centers for Disease Control in Atlanta.

As the Public Health Officer in Marin County he led the development of the RxSafe Marin coalition to battle the opioid epidemic. Dr. Willis has recently been in the news not only for leading Marin’s effort against COVID-19, but also for contracting the virus himself. He was diagnosed on March 22, isolated at home, and was back to work by April 20.

Kevin Tracey, MD
President & CEO, Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research
Recorded: Thursday, June 18, 2020

An expert in the methodology of drug testing, Dr. Kevin Tracey is the President and CEO of the Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research in Manhasset, NY, part of the Northwell School of Medicine at Hofstra University. He received his MD from Boston University and trained as a neurosurgeon at New York Hospital. He has led the Feinstein Institutes since 2005.

Dr. Tracey’s expertise in neuroscience and research on the molecular basis of inflammation led to the founding of the bioelectronics field, which seeks to modulate inflammation through electronic stimulation of neurons. He is recognized as one of the most-cited researchers in the world. As head of the Feinstein Institutes, Dr. Tracey is playing in a role in clinical trials run in partnership between Northwell Health and the pharmaceutical companies Gilead Sciences, Regeneron Pharmaceuticals, and Sanofi.

Robert Gallo, MD
Co-Founder and Director, Institute of Human Virology, University of Maryland School of Medicine
Recorded, June 24, 2020

Dr. Robert Gallo, the Co-Founder and Director of the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, is best known for co-identifying HIV as the virus that causes AIDS. He has spent much of his career making discoveries to help eradicate the virus. Dr. Gallo has been interviewed numerous times during the COVID-19 pandemic and has recently proposed that a polio vaccine may hold promise against the SARS-CoV-2 virus.

Dr. Gallo is also the Homer and Martha Gudelsky Distinguished Professor in Medicine and Co-founder and International Scientific Advisor, Global Virus Network. He received his MD from Jefferson Medical College and was a researcher at the National Cancer Institute for more than 30 years. He is a member of the National Academies of Science and the Institute of Medicine, and has won the Albert Lasker Award in Medicine twice—in 1982 and in 1986.

Warner Greene, MD, PhD
Distinguished Professor of Translational Medicine, Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology
Recorded, June 29, 2020

Dr. Warner Greene’s lab is studying how the SARS-CoV-2 virus enters cells, and screening a library of FDA-approved drugs to identify those that could be repurposed as a treatment to stop cellular entry and spread of the virus.

Dr. Green is Director of the Gladstone Center for HIV Cure Research, the founder and Nick and Sue Hellmann Distinguished Professor of Translational Medicine of the Gladstone Institute of Virology and Immunology, and a professor of medicine at UCSF. Dr. Greene is a member of the Institute of Medicine and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. He received both his MD and PhD at Washington University in St. Louis and completed his residency at Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston.

Susan Desmond Hellmann, MD, MPH
Former Chief Executive Officer, Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation
Recorded, July 8, 2020

Dr. Sue Desmond-Hellmann’s healthcare career has spanned major leadership roles in clinical, academic, industry, and philanthropic organizations. Most recently CEO of the Bill & Melinda Gate Foundation, Dr. Desmond-Hellmann has also served as Chancellor of UCSF and as President of Product Development at Genentech. She currently serves on the board of Pfizer. Dr. Desmond-Hellman received her MD from University of Nevada, Reno, and a Masters of Public Health from University of California, Berkeley. She completed her clinical training at UCSF.

An oncologist, Dr. Desmond-Hellmann spent time at the Uganda Cancer Institute studying HIV/AIDS and cancer. She is a champion of precision medicine and was involved in an effort to develop therapeutics for pandemics at the Gates Foundation.

Robert Redfield, MD
Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Recorded July 14, 2020

Dr. Robert Redfield has served as the Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention since 2018. As head of the CDC, Dr. Redfield is responsible for coordinating much of the national COVID-19 response and research efforts. He has unparalleled access to monitor to the status of the pandemic nationally, and contributes to policy decisions at the federal level.

Dr. Redfield received his MD from the Georgetown University School of Medicine and completed his residency at Walter Reed Army Medical Center as an Army Officer. He co-founded the Institute of Human Virology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine, was the founding director of the U.S. Military’s HIV Research Program, and served for 20 years in the US Army Medical Corps.


The Buck Institute is located 25 miles north of the Golden Gate Bridge.

San Francisco Airport/San Francisco/South Bay:

  • Take Highway 101 North across the Golden Gate Bridge
  • Take the last Novato exit — Atherton/San Marin Drive (just north of the DeLong exit)
  • Turn left at the stoplight, and go west over the freeway overpass
  • Get in the right lane, and turn right at the second stoplight onto Redwood Boulevard
  • Go approximately ½ mile, and turn left onto Buck Center Drive
  • At the top of the hill, turn left into the Visitor Parking Lot

Berkeley/Oakland/Oakland International Airport:

  • Take Highway 80 to Highway 580 West, and cross the Richmond/San Rafael Bridge
  • Take 580 until it merges with Highway 101 North in San Rafael
  • Take the last Novato exit — Atherton/San Marin Drive (just north of the DeLong exit)
  • Turn left at the stoplight, and go west over the freeway overpass
  • Get in the right lane, and turn right at the second stoplight onto Redwood Boulevard
  • Go approximately ½ mile, and turn left onto Buck Center Drive
  • At the top of the hill, turn left into the Visitor Parking Lot

From Sonoma County, take Highway 101 South:

  • Take the first Novato exit (Atherton/San Marin Drive)
  • Turn right at the stoplight, and stay in the right lane
  • Take an immediate right onto Redwood Boulevard
  • Go approximately ½ mile, and turn left onto Buck Center Drive
  • At the top of the hill, turn left into the Visitor Parking Lot

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