NEWS | April 14, 2020

Infectious disease research coordinators draw big praise from teams they help


Throughout UC Davis Health, people have readily increased their workloads and intensity as they battle COVID-19 and one team drawing praise for both extreme hours and extreme helpfulness is the trio of young research coordinators in the UC Davis Division of Infectious Diseases.

Yasmeen Rezaishad, Mohamad Kahil and Melina Sneesby  Yasmeen Rezaishad, Mohamad Kahil and Melina Sneesby

They have worked “above and beyond the call of duty to get all of our COVID-19-related research trials up and going,” wrote Stuart Cohen, chief of the UC Davis Division of Infectious Diseases, on a submission to the UC Davis School of Medicine naming the coordinators research success stories. “They have been working seven days per week to appropriately follow the study patients, in addition to getting all of the paperwork done to make the studies happen.”

The coordinators – Mohamad Kahil, Melina Sneesby and Yasmeen Rezaishad – are all recent college graduates and have become a linchpin in the process of researching treatments for COVID-19 by enrolling and following patients in clinical trials, among many other tasks.

“With them assisting the ID consult team, they have consistently and adeptly taken the baton from us after our initial evaluations and discussions with new COVID-19 patients,” wrote assistant clinical professor Scott Crabtree in a separate success story nod. “By reviewing and reiterating the details and assisting with the paperwork, it allowed us to see more patients and see patients more effectively.”

Kate Trigg, clinical research supervisor, said the trio has consistently found ways to help the research team and their patients, which range from making sure labs are ordered for patients to assuring clinical trial guidelines are followed to following up with the families of patients on the phone to let them know as much as possible.

“Establishing a relationship on the phone is hard,” Trigg said. “They’ve all worked so hard at it and have really connected with the families.”

Trigg also wrote a success story submission for the trio, as did George Thompson, associate professor of clinical medicine, who has also been part of the research. That makes four separate commendations for the coordinators.

“Mo, Mel and Yasmeen have been working around the clock without question or complaint since the onslaught,” Trigg wrote. “Seven days a week, sometimes 10-plus-hour days. They have developed relationships with nurses on the floors caring for these patients and with housestaff in other departments.”

All three started as research coordinators after they graduated from college last spring. Rezaishad is a UC Davis graduate who interned in the infectious diseases division before graduation and she’s planning to go to nursing school. Kahil is a UCLA graduate with plans to apply to medical school, and Sneesby graduated from Cal Poly, San Luis Obispo and aspires to enter a clinical psychology Ph.D. program.

“Working on COVID-19 clinical trials has been a chaotic adjustment for all of us,” Sneesby said in an email. “But it is exciting and rewarding to know that we are helping gather information on how to treat a new disease.”

“Our COVID-19 trials are unlike any others before – the process is intensified on all levels,” Kahil wrote in an email. “It has been an incredibly challenging yet rewarding experience with unrivaled highs and lows. I am highly honored to have the opportunity to help bring novel treatments to patients.”

Trigg, their supervisor, said she doesn’t know where to begin praising the trio. “They’ve blown me away with how collaborative and resourceful they are,” she said. “This is a sink or swim time and my team has been swimming their hearts out with no end in sight.”