Angela M. Reiersen, MD, MPE
DEPARTMENT OF PSYCHIATRY
Associate Professor of Psychiatry (Child)
2023 Dean’s Impact Award Recipient
In early March 2020, Angela M. Reiersen, MD, MPE, made
the observation that many adults with initially mild COVID-19 illness would deteriorate in the second week of the illness, requiring supplemental oxygen, hospitalization and intensive care. She reasoned that this delayed worsening was likely due to the immune response of the patient, and that an existing drug — the medication fluvoxamine, which is used for psychiatric illness — would dampen this hyper-inflammation, thereby improving clinical outcomes. Through her brilliant insight and perseverance, she helped lead a clinical trial at Washington University that provided the initial proof of this idea, and then she helped oversee efforts to replicate the finding and further study the underlying mechanism. As a result, fluvoxamine was one of the first drugs demonstrated to reduce deterioration in COVID-19 patients and is still being used in lower- and middle-income countries where more expensive medications are unavailable.