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Keeping Vital Investigations Going

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Wednesday, October 14, 2020 - 15:00

How do we keep vital investigations going even when labs were shut? That was the question on the mind of researchers everywhere in March as they prepared to suspend operations. Roberta Marongiu, PhD, assistant professor of neuroscience in Dr. Kaplitt’s molecular biology laboratory, who conducts research on Parkinson’s disease and other movement disorders, shares her perspective on how the temporary shutdown affected the daily work of this dedicated lab team. 

The Covid-19 pandemic struck scientistsaround the world and dramatically shook our ability to perform daily research activities. In mid-March we had approximately two weeks to decide how to downsize ourresearch to only those essential projectsthat could not be stopped without drastically jeopardizing our investigations. Under the decisive leadership of Dr. Kaplitt, we immediately started meeting to plan workflow and schedule structure. 

Given these unprecedented circumstances, the shutdown compromised the collection of data from in vitro and in vivo experiments. This in turn delayed the submission for publication of important results as well as the submission of research proposals in accordance with grant deadlines. Needless to say we went through some rough times, concerned about what would become of our experiments, animals, projects, manuscripts and grants, and, ultimately, our jobs. The scientific community, however, which is used to working under stressful circumstances while meeting tight deadlines, proved to be resilient during these very difficult times. 

As a contingency, our focus was predominantly diverted to working remotely from home. We concentrated our efforts on the analysis of previously collected data, literature searches, and scientific writing. Through 10 weeks of sheltering in place, we were able to perform experiments that allowed us to keep our essential projects going as strategically planned, even if only at a minimum. We were able to maintain our mouse colonies, thanks to the efforts of the Weill Cornell Research Animal Resource Center (RARC) team. 

This pandemic greatly affected our ability to meet our research goals for the year 2020 and possibly 2021. Nevertheless, we worked relentlessly to maintain maximum productivity. 

More about Dr. Marongiu