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A conversation with Yale Cancer Center/Smilow Cancer Hospital scientist Katerina Politi working remotely during COVID-19

March 30, 2020

What kind of research does your lab generally focus on?

The Politi Lab is a cancer biology lab. We work on lung cancer with an emphasis on understanding the mechanisms that underlie sensitivity and resistance to cancer therapies.

How difficult was it making the switch from working in the lab on campus to working remotely? What were/are some of the challenges you're facing?

It took us about 2 weeks to ramp down activities to the point of being able to work remotely. We had to interrupt some long-term experiments, which was hard to do but we recognize the importance of minimizing in-person interactions. Everyone in the lab was fantastic and worked together as a team to achieve this goal. I am very grateful for their effort and professionalism.

Have you ever had to do this before?

This is the first time that we have had to do this.

How are you staying connected with your lab team?

We have regular virtual lab check-ins every other day to see how everyone is doing and to make sure that we are all up-to-speed on the latest news. We also maintain our weekly lab meeting schedule (virtually) and I have individual virtual meetings with members of the lab. We communicate via Slack and have a new channel that we started specifically to share positive stories, videos, pictures, or information to help us through this challenging moment.

What are your biggest worries concerning your ongoing research/future research?

I worry about how this interruption will affect future career plans and prospects for trainees in the lab. Depending on how long this lasts, I also am concerned about the long-term consequences on progress in biomedical research.

What advice/words of wisdom would you have for other researchers now?

Each of us has to find a rhythm that works for us-there isn’t one size that fits all especially in the middle of a pandemic. As much as we can, we can use the time to work on projects that we enjoy, read papers, and plan for when we go back to lab. We should also make plenty of time to take care of ourselves and loved ones!

Submitted by Anne Doerr on March 30, 2020