Doing Science in a Pandemic
COVID-19 has impacted nearly every aspect of life in 2020, and the world of science was no exception. Two MCS alumni who’ve made their careers in pioneering research joined a virtual panel discussion hosted by Glen de Vries Dean Rebecca W. Doerge to share their insights into how this year’s pandemic has affected life in the lab and beyond.
For 1994 graduate Glen de Vries, a CEO and co-founder of Metidata, the pandemic has meant seeing many of the important clinical trials his company runs be interrupted. “That’s a real problem for those patients,” de Vries said, since it denies them access to potentially lifesaving treatments being developed. “If you think about it more extensively, it’s kind of a real problem for society,” he added, noting that these interruptions interfere with the intricate, years-long process to get new therapeutics approved by regulators.
However, 2005 graduate D.J. Kleinbaum, a co-founder and CEO of Emerald Therapeutics and Emerald Cloud Lab, did see some potential upsides to the disruption that the COVID-19 pandemic has brought to traditional laboratory research.
“Not having to be in the lab, up until a couple of months ago, was just sort of a cute oddity,” said Kleinbaum, whose automated laboratory facility allows scientists to conduct wet lab research remotely without being in wet lab facilities. “Now this thing has sort of come front and center.”
Kleinbaum foresees the pandemic-related disruptions to research accelerating scientists’ embrace of such automated experiments, which will not only help keep them safe at home but also give them access to powerful research tools that their institutions may not normally have.
“That’s huge from a scientific perspective in terms of being able to give scientists more leverage,” Kleinbaum said. “And that’s really what we’re trying to do here.”
Glen de Vries