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COVID-19: Science, Stories, and Resources

Member Perspectives

As people around the world are affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Biophysical Society is sharing stories from members about how their lives and research have been impacted.

    

Touching Commitment in Quite Unusual Circumstances

As people around the world are affected by the global COVID-19 pandemic, the Biophysical Society is sharing stories from members about how their lives and research have been impacted. 

Nuno Santos, University of Lisbon & BPS Ambassador

Lisbon, Portugal

Here at the Medical School of the University of Lisbon (FMUL), we passed all the teaching activity to videoconference and other distance learning strategies on March 10. During the rest of that week, all PhD students, post-docs and staff scientists from my group, at iMM (Institute of Molecular Medicine, Lisbon, Portugal), were taking the decision of going to the Lab or working from home at a personal base. However, last Friday, March 13, we shut down the entire research building, except for a few exceptions (e.g., animal house maintenance). Previously, we suspended all travel, invited seminars were cancelled (I had an invited speaker coming from the US next week, whose seminar and flights were independently canceled) and even Lab Meetings were put on hold.

This week, after the building shutdown, we are already having seminars and lab meetings on videoconference, like the teaching. Adding to that, for now research activities are limited to data treatment, manuscript drafting and thesis writing, as well as grant applications. But it is still difficult to imagine doing “just” this for the next few months… The joint Congress of the Portuguese and Spanish Biophysical Societies, initially scheduled for the upcoming month of June, in Coimbra, Portugal, is being cancelled / postponed, as many others throughout the world.

Let me tell you that it is touching experiencing the commitment that everyone, from undergrad and grad students to senior staff and faculty, are putting in, trying to maintain business as usual… in quite unusual circumstances. No one is taking this as just holidays.

At the personal level, both my wife (a high school teacher) and I are now working from home.  We have our two sons with us, as their school is now closed (as all other schools in Portugal), with remote teaching activities being implemented. The only exception is for the children (under 12) of healthcare and security personnel, who still have child care services guaranteed, if necessary.

Portugal is a country with “only” 451 confirmed cases at the time of writing and we had yesterday the first casualty associated with SARS-Cov2/Covid-19. Nevertheless, the scientific community, as well as reference journalists, have been putting as much pressure as a possible on the Government and the President to act fast in all the possible measurements to limiting the spread of the infection and delaying the increase in the number of critical cases, in order to avoid a situation as dramatic as the one Italy is currently facing.

 

Would you like to share your experience in this difficult and uncertain time? Email your perspective to [email protected]



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COVID-19: Science, Stories, and Resources

Header Image Credit: CDC/ Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAMS