Fighting COVID-19

Virtual Remote Conference Tools Keep Us Connected

Dr. Meei-Hua Lin presented results of her research on the first Zoom Renal Research Conference.

Meei-Hua Lin, PhD, presented results of her research at the first Zoom Renal Research Conference.

From telemedicine to video conferencing to interviews, remote conference tools have been so useful and favorably received since the COVID-19 shutdown that they may just end up being part of our “new normal” long after the crisis has passed.

Virtual conference tools have helped members of WashU Nephrology keep connected to not only our patients, but to each other.   For patients undergoing home dialysis, our home modalities staff has relied on FaceTime and Zoom for their telehealth visits, and anticipate eventually using Doximity Dialer, another user-friendly option for remote communication with their patients.  As well, both clinical faculty and renal fellows have smoothly transitioned from their normal face-to-face renal clinic visits to telehealth clinics.   Most meetings and all normal conferences, including renal grand rounds, pathophysiology and curriculum lectures, and board review Q&A sessions with the renal fellows are held via Zoom.

The latest employment of the remote meeting tool was for the resurrection of WashU Nephrology’s weekly Renal Research Conference/Journal Club.

Dr. Jeffrey Miner and members of his lab came up with the idea to use Zoom to get our researchers together again after a nearly two-month hiatus.   As Miner puts it, “It is as a way for all to remain engaged, stay sharp and keep somewhat sane during the lockdown.”

Participation is voluntary and presenters can either show data from their own research or can choose a recently published paper that they believe would be of interest to the group.  The sessions are held, as before, on Tuesdays.

Dr. Meei-Hua Lin, a member of the Miner lab, stepped up to be the first presenter at the Zoom seminar, where she discussed her research on the characterization of the podocyte cytoskeletal protein LIM-Nebulette in mice.  “I’ve joined a few Zoom meetings recently, but this was my first Zoom presentation,” she says.  “I didn’t get chance to see who was there,” she joked, but was pleased to find out that more than 30 participants logged in to watch the presentation.  “So, it was as many as what we had before COVID-19.  That’s good to know!”

Jeff Miner hosts Alport Zoom meeting

Dr. Jeff Miner and patient Patrick Walker co-moderated an International Alport E-Workshop for patients and scientists.

Miner has been impressed with the remote form of communication.  “I had very little experience with Zoom or other online video meeting platforms before the era of COVID-19,” he says.  “I was worried that it would be far inferior to live meetings and seminars, but I was very wrong about that.  They have been very useful and efficient for lab meetings and Renal Research Conferences.  And today I am moderating a 1-hour International Alport Syndrome E-Workshop for scientists and patients from the ‘comfort’ of my home!”

Drs. Andrew Malone and Eirini Kefalogianni presented the 2nd and 3rd Zoom Research Conferences, respectively.

Dr. Andrew Malone presented the second Zoom Research Conference.

Says Malone, “It is a very different experience presenting via video conference.  You are not aware of people looking at you, so it is somewhat less stressful!”

Dr. Eirini Kefalogianni presented the third week of the Zoom Research Conference.

Dr. Eirini Kefalogianni presented the third Zoom Research Conference.

On Twitter, follow Jeff Miner @JeffMinerPhD, Andrew Malone @AndrewFMalone, and WashU Nephrology @WUNephrology.  Please visit and “Like” us on Facebook at @WUSTLNephology.