Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is on the news daily with updated information about COVID-19.

He doesn’t act alone. Fauci has surrounded himself with a team of experts on all things related to the pandemic and a Sturgis native is among them.

Susan (LeRoque) Davis, a 1996 graduate of Sturgis High School, is one of six pharmacists on the NIH guideline panel.

Davis has the credentials and the expertise to be selected. Her title is Susan Davis, PharmD, clinical professor of pharmacy practice, Wayne State University; infectious diseases pharmacy specialist, Henry Ford Health System, Detroit.

Other pharmacists are from federal agencies and other professional societies.

“The pharmacy team has been responsible for providing medication therapy expertise and critically reviewing new data as it is available,” Davis said.

Being selected for the position came from Davis’ role in Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists.

“I represent the Society of Infectious Diseases Pharmacists on the panel, and I am very proud that SIDP was asked to participate," she said. "ID (infectious diseases) pharmacists around the country are helping to care for patients with COVID-19 and educating others about the potential benefits and safety of proposed therapies. As the president-elect of SIDP, I’m sincerely honored to get to provide that unique perspective.”

Her career path began at home with her parents, Gib and Vicki LeRoque of Sturgis.

“I started off well with a science teacher for Dad. He taught in Colon for his whole career,” Davis said.

Her parents encouraged her scientific mind and interests and they couldn’t be more proud.

“But this is about Susan,” Gib said. “Not about us.”

Sturgis teachers also encouraged Davis.

“Some of my best memories of high school were in my biology classes with Bruce Ellis and Bobbye Nusbaum,” Davis said. “I credit my high school science teachers with fostering that interest and helping me build confidence that I could succeed in science.”

As her career advanced, Davis didn’t forget their encouragement.

“I doubt they’d remember it, “ Davis said, “but when my first research paper was published in 2004, I sent them a copy so they could share in my excitement.”

Ellis remembers getting the paper.

“I was very impressed,” he said.

As a student, Susan was brilliant, Ellis said.

“Brilliant, obviously, and a very nice person," he said.

Nusbaum added that along with being an outstanding student, Susan was highly involved academically and a leader among her peers.

"She was very personable," Nusbaum said.

Davis said, “Many of my favorite people are science teachers. I even married one. My husband, Jim, teaches chemistry in Monroe.”

Today, Davis is an expert in antimicrobial stewardship and antibiotic resistance — a research area of which Wayne State is well-known.

Davis explained.

"Antimicrobial stewardship represents a system of people, technology and other strategies that we use in the health care system to ensure that we use antibiotics wisely," Davis said.

It can include things like reminding prescribers to use the shortest duration of antibiotics necessary, clarifying antibiotic allergies and tracking antibiotic use and resistance on a larger scale to identify potential problems, she said.

Understanding antibiotic resistance is crucial.

“It impacts so much of modern health care,” Davis said. “Many life-saving interventions, surgeries, cancer therapy, transplants, are not possible without effective antibiotics. So every step we can take to contain, prevent or overcome resistance has multiple benefits.”

It takes a combination of scientific knowledge and evidence along with “a lot of creative problem solving and communication,” Davis said. “My training as a pharmacist pairs well with those challenges.”

COVID-19 is more than just science, research and education for Davis.

It’s as personal to her as anyone.

“Like everyone else, I’m worried about my parents,” she said.

The feeling of isolation from each other can be stressful along with not knowing how life will be changed because of it. 

“My grandma is currently living in The Villa at Thurston Woods,” Davis said. “And as careful and kind as the staff are, it’s hard to communicate and know how she’s doing when my mom and aunt can’t see her in person.”

But there is hope, Davis said, and she is truly in-the-know.

“Of course I see light at the end of the tunnel. There is a near constant stream of new information about how to treat COVID-19 and to prevent the spread of the virus,” she said. “Every day we’re just a little bit closer to solutions. I’m excited about some of the data emerging with new therapies and am hopeful for advances in vaccines.”

She added, “Overcoming a pandemic like this takes a diverse approach of scientists, health care workers, patients and communities willing to listen and learn from each other.”

Investing in public health is tremendously importance, she said.

And some preventive measure are simple.

“If everyone continues to wash their hands so attentively, that will do wonders for preventing the spread of other infections in the future," Davis said.