Covid and Cancer:The young scientists working overtime to combat lockdown disruption
“Sometimes I am so, so, absolutely tired.”
It’s pretty normal for lab scientists to work long, unsociable hours to run experiments.
But some young cancer researchers have told Radio 1 Newsbeat that they’re working longer, harder days, with no extra pay, because of coronavirus.
When Covid rules in the UK were eased last summer, many of us enjoyed travelling or mixing in bigger groups again. But for Dr Alba Rodriguez-Meira, 28, those sunny weeks were like an “extended lockdown”.
Laboratories had been closed for almost four months and Alba worked more than 90 hours a week – that’s 13 hours a day, including weekends – to try to get her leukaemia research back on track at the University of Oxford.
“That was fine during the first month but it becomes a bit disruptive in terms of life quality if you try to do it for much longer,” Alba says.
Alba’s weekly hours are now back to her usual amount of 60 – but she’s still finding it tough to stay on track.
“I’ve lost a lot of productivity – sometimes I think I’ve not been as happy or as passionate as I used to be.
“Working under these circumstances has made me lose a bit of that. And I am sometimes so, so, absolutely tired.
“The only thing that keeps me going is the support I receive from my postdoctoral advisor, who has managed to keep us all engaged during such difficult times.”
‘There won’t be any good drugs’
Social distancing rules mean that even though labs have reopened, not everyone can be there at the same time.
This is affecting the work of PhD student Laurien van de Weijer, 24, who is studying a type of brain tumour called a meningioma.
She was supposed to be running an important experiment at her lab at the University of Plymouth over Easter weekend in April, but wasn’t allowed in to give the tumour cells the “food” they needed – so they all died.
Laurien’s apprehensive about the 18 months she has left to get her PhD finished.
“I’ll be so overloaded… because I lost lots of time in the early stage, I really have to catch up, so I probably will do crazy hours.
“I really don’t look forward to being in the lab in the middle of the night.”
Laurien is worried that the longer she takes to get her research done, “the longer there won’t be any good drugs” for people with meningiomas.
Read more…. https://www.bbc.com/news/newsbeat-56821532