Helen Chu, MD, MPH, a board-certified physician and associate professor of Medicine and Allergy and Infectious Diseases, received the 2021 Washingtonian of the Year award from the Washington State Leadership Board and Lt. Gov. Cyrus Habib’s office.
Chu is credited as the first physician to identify community spread of the novel coronavirus in the United States. Her team made this discovery despite facing significant professional and bureaucratic pressures. Her team’s discovery and ongoing work has helped shape the state’s response to the coronavirus.
Early in the pandemic, Chu also enrolled the first patients in the United States with SARS-CoV-2 infection into research studies. This work led to development of therapies, treatments and vaccines, including use of remdesivir and monoclonal antibodies for treatment, and the Moderna mRNA vaccine for prevention.