Providence's George A. Diaz works the frontlines of COVID-19 therapeutic trials

Dr. George Diaz
(Graphic by David La Cava/Image courtesy of Providence)

George A. Diaz, M.D, Infectious Diseases Provider, Providence Regional Medical Center Everett and System Provider Informaticist, Providence

Age: 49

Education: Diaz attended medical school at the University of Oklahoma. He completed his residency in internal medicine at the University of Utah. Diaz also completed training in infectious diseases during a fellowship at the University of Washington.

About him: Diaz became an important leader in the COVID-19 pandemic by treating “patient zero,” the first known patient to be hospitalized with symptoms of the novel coronavirus in the United States. He enrolled this first patient and 139 more in clinical trials testing the use of the antiviral drug remdesivir. Diaz was the principal investigator for clinical trials with remdesivir and author on three articles published in the New England Journal of Medicine: “This drug is now part of the standard of care for treatment of patients with COVID-19 pneumonia in the U.S," Diaz said. 

In addition, Diaz has participated in three Regeneron Spike Trials to uncover more details about the proteins the immune system can produce when people receive an infusion of monoclonal antibodies. These antibodies may provide short-term protection from COVID-19 before people receive vaccines.

Diaz helped develop Providence’s COVID telehealth home monitoring program in rapid response to the pandemic. 

“We created the algorithms to triage patients to home from the emergency department, urgent care, et cetera," Diaz said. "My hospital piloted and enrolled the first patients to begin this new workflow for the management of COVID patients. We have since enrolled thousands of COVID patients into telehealth, thereby reducing the need for admissions and optimization when patients should come to the hospital for treatment.”

He has also served as a principal investigator at Providence to identify risk factors for COVID exposure in the workplace and test more than 22,000 caregivers. “We hope to be able to assess which groups of employees were at higher exposure risk for COVID-19 and see whether any obvious job-related factors — PPE use or availability, or job role — left workers at higher risk," he said. 

Diaz is a Clinical Affairs Committee Epic Steering Board member of the Infectious Diseases Society of America. He has also conducted a foreign press briefing for the U.S. State Department on the use of remdesivir and a congressional briefing on COVID-19 preparedness. He participated in a New England Journal of Medicine Catalyst podcast on the role of technology and leadership during COVID-19.

First job: Following a fellowship at the University of Washington, Diaz secured his first job at PRMCE as an infectious diseases doctor.

Proudest accomplishment: “Being the first doctor in the world to use remdesivir for the treatment of COVID pneumonia.”

Problem he’s most passionate about trying to solve: “I would like to optimize the [electronic medical record] to be able to rapidly run large-scale clinical trials across our organization to improve the care of patients.”

Book he recommends: 'The Creative Destruction of Medicine: How the Digital Revolution Will Create Better Health Care' by Eric Topol, M.D.

Advice he would give his younger self: “Find a mentor who can help you find the funding to help you take your ideas and turn them into reality.”

What he would do with his career if it wasn’t this: “I would like to help lead an organization devoted to the healthcare of the Hispanic population.”

Biggest lesson so far from the global pandemic: “The impact we have in healthcare is significantly limited by the messaging the population is hearing on social media. We live in an age of disinformation and we must be an aggressive force for truth to combat disinformation.” 

Providence's George A. Diaz works the frontlines of COVID-19 therapeutic trials