10 June 2020
Early-Career Researchers in the Time of COVID-19
The magazine Cell Stem Cell provided a platform to early career investigators to gain visibility in days of lockdown. One of them is DanStem/Bric Associate Professor Luis Arnes.
COVID-19 has unfortunately halted lab work, conferences, and in-person networking, which is especially detrimental to researchers just starting their labs. Cell Stem Cell met some early-career stem cell investigators impacted by the closures.
"In our laboratory, we study regeneration and cellular plasticity in the pancreas. Following injury, mature pancreas cells can acquire alternative cellular states recapitulating those of embryonic pancreatic progenitors. Although a physiological process of tissue homeostasis, it renders the tissue susceptible to cancer. We seek to understand the role of transcriptional enhancers and noncoding RNAs in these cell fate changes in the embryonic and regenerating adult pancreas, bridging both developmental and cancer biology. To achieve this goal, we use a combination of mouse models and embryonic stem cells. Our studies will provide molecular drivers of cellular and pathological associated plasticity that may lead to novel treatments in regenerative therapies and pancreatic cancer.
The outbreak of SARS-CoV-2 forced the shutdown of research institutions while at peak productivity. Suddenly, only critical experiments could continue. With the pressure of the tenure track weighing heavily, I felt that every single experiment was crucial. COVID-19 is challenging current studies, but the team has gone the extra mile to safeguard essential activities. Despite the overwhelming feeling of uncertainty, we continue scientific discussions remotely, which are vital to maintaining high spirits, especially of international students. We will emerge with new ideas and innovative ways of sharing and discussing science. We are excited and prepared for a “COVID-compliant” reopening". - Luis Arnes.