By Alicia Gómez Sánchez
It has been 10 months since the word ‘coronavirus’ became part of almost everyone’s life and around 7 months since it changed our lives completely. At that stage, when we did not know exactly what we were dealing with or how it was going to evolve, was the most difficult time. However, as creatures of habit, we all adapt and fight against whatever is trying to stop us
One of the best examples of this is the 3D-NEONET project, a brilliant international group of academic and research institutions focusing on research into discoveries of drugs for cancer and eye therapeutics. It was thanks to this fantastic network which includes my host institution University College of Dublin and my employer Ocupharm that I had the opportunity to start my secondment in September 2019 at the UCD Conway Institute.
I was part of the UCD ocular research team, led by Professor Breandán Kennedy which worked on a small tropical fish, called zebrafish (Danio rerio), as their eyes are very similar to humans. I attended several research events and meetings in UCD with the highlight being “Getting the Facts On Vax” held by the UCD PharmTox society last November.
Little did I know at the time how vaccines would become a daily world news talking point only a few months later! My secondment was due to run until September 2020 however, due to the pandemic, this was interrupted for 4 months. During these months, despite having computer work, I missed the lab very much and was looking forward to coming back to continue where I left off.
Thanks to the project, but especially to my supervisors who did their best to keep the secondment going, I was able to resume my research. Furthermore, the 3DNEONET group has recently obtained approval for another fantastic project called CRYSTAL3 (H2020-MSCA-RISE2020) which will be launched soon and which I am proud to be joining in January. This will allow me to continue my stay at UCD for another year.
I feel the scientific community should be prouder than ever to have adapted and to continue fighting against everything that is trying to stop us, because the coronavirus is still with us. Unfortunately, all the other serious diseases like cancer are with us too, and we still have many battles to win.