Global impacts of the pandemic on non COVID-19 research
June 2020 - Principal Investigator Dr Carsten Hansen reflects on the impact of the global pandemic on his lab’s research in the fields of cancer, inflammation and tissue repair.
On 9 June 2020, Dr Hansen was invited by one of his funders, Worldwide Cancer Research, to contribute to an STV ‘News at Six’ spotlight on cancer research during the pandemic.
He says that while the first month of lockdown provided the opportunity to analyse data, UK restrictions on non-COVID research have become increasingly frustrating as the weeks go by. He is particularly concerned about the long-term impact of delayed research on scientists in the early stages of their career, which includes PhD students, postdoctoral researchers and those who, like Carsten, have recently become independent research leaders.
The spotlight programme also considered how the pandemic has affected not just lab access, but the whole supply chain of research. Some countries have designated all researchers as key workers and allowed research centres to continue operating at a slightly reduced capacity, but progress is still delayed by limited access to lab consumable deliveries and outsourced technical services.
The pandemic restrictions will also severely affect charitable funding providers now and in the longer term, as their community-based fundraising activities are cut off to prevent disease transmission. Some like Worldwide Cancer Research have launched emergency online appeals or are trying to be creative with providing digital fundraising opportunities.