Many of the biggest science breakthroughs of 2021 centered, unsurprisingly, around the story of the year: Covid-19. The entries to STAT Madness, our yearly bracket-style competition to choose the prior year’s most exciting biomedical discovery, reflected the priorities of science and humanity at large. Still, last year’s winners developed unique solutions for herpes and diabetes, a sign that among this highly competitive field, it’s anyone’s game. The first round of popular voting begins Tuesday, March 1, when the first-round pairings will be revealed, along with descriptions of all the entrants’ research..
Buoyed by the development and approval of safe and effective vaccines to protect against serious disease from Covid-19, this year’s contenders dove deeper into antiviral treatments and other pandemic solutions. Others expanded horizons in gene therapy, microbiome research, and surgery.