COVID-19’s Devastating Impact on Neurological Research

COVID-19’s Devastating Impact on Neurological Research

Neurological research has taken a big hit by COVID-19 as the staff was furloughed, studies paused or suspended, and budgets all but dissipated. In just a matter of several weeks, the financial foundations of the neurology research enterprise are undermined, and conditions could become worse for academic neurologists and those working in the philanthropic groups that fund these studies. Can neurological research be saved?

The consensus on the prognosis for neurological research isn’t good, reports Dan Hurley with Neurology Today.

Brett Kissela, MD, MS, FAAN, the Albert Barnes Voorheis Professor and chair of the department of neurology and rehabilitation medicine at the University of Cincinnati College of Medicine, sums it all up when he commented: “Every passing month, its gets harder and harder.” The professor continued that business and finance minded executives at this major academic medical center report the outlook bleak red ink everywhere.

According to Dr. Kissela, reported in Neurology Today, “Some critical research, like cancer trials, we kept open, but otherwise we had to shut down the non-COVID-19 research enterprise.”

Pharma Funding Model

Typically, academic medical centers secure at least part of their research revenue from industry sponsors—known as pharma—representing a myriad of different kinds of companies from multinational drug companies to new biotech upstarts, to contract research organizations (CROs) that outsource trials for pharma, to medical device and diagnostic companies requiring FDA approval for their investigational products.

Typically paid on a per-patient enrolled basis by the sponsor, these sponsors want to reactivate their studies. The longer this dormant period, the more mostly to these studies. But the ongoing questions around safety in regards to SARS-CoV-2 make all involved hesitant to rush forward. Dr. Kissela noted—can the industry re-start soon?

Chartable Funding Model Hit

Mr. Hurley updates the reader that, unfortunately, charitable organization funding of important neurological clinical research has all but frozen. Although new studies centering on the impact of COVID-19 on neurology are commencing, Howard Fillitt, MD, founding director, and chief scientific officer of the Alzheimer’s Drug Discovery Foundation, reports that the study funding landscape looks bleak.


From forced furloughs and suspend or delayed clinical trials to struggling charitable organizations, the road looks challenging in the short run, reports Mr. Hurley. New COVID-19 studies represent a bright side. Over time the prognosis will undoubtedly improve, but in the short run, researchers will need to adjust their strategies and approaches, not to mention cost structure, baring some miraculous change of fortune.

Follow the source to read Mr. Hurley’s summary of the current situation.