Damon Runyon News

October 20, 2020
Six months after laboratories were shuttered due to COVID-19, most of our affected Damon Runyon scientists have restarted their research with limited hours in the lab. Often, this means working in shifts either early mornings, late nights, or on weekends to maintain social distancing guidelines.

Damon Runyon Fellow Evan C. Lien, PhD, has returned to his lab at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, which is restricted to 50 percent capacity. “I am focused on finishing experiments for the publication of a manuscript that has been delayed by the pandemic. The lab closure also affected my ability to advance other ongoing projects and collaborations, which will be difficult to resume until we reopen at 100 percent capacity,” said Dr. Lien.

The time required to ramp up to full productivity varies, but most of our scientists report that it may take months to get their research back to the stage before the pandemic abruptly shut down labs. “I have started to repeat animal experiments that had to be abandoned, which will require an additional two to three months,” said Fellow Shaogeng Tang, PhD, at Stanford University.

Despite the delays, our scientists are determined and resilient—they are also spending this time preparing for the launch of their independent careers. Fellow Deepshika Ramanan, PhD, at Harvard University, explained, “This has been a great opportunity to reevaluate my research plans, and to brainstorm with my mentors and lab mates about alternative experimental approaches that can get me closer to achieving my goals until we are able to function at full capacity.”

In April, Damon Runyon invested an additional nearly $1.2 million to support our scientists most affected by pandemic-related shutdowns. “The extension funding is critical to bridging the gap until we can start our own independent research labs. This is helping us continue on the academic career path and make advances in cancer research,” said Fellow Elise C. Jeffery, PhD, of the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center.