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Cancer researchers discuss COVID-19’s effect on the field

photo of graduate student Tobiloba Oni
At work in a Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory cancer research lab. Tobiloba Oni is a graduate student in David Tuveson’s lab.

Director of the Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) Cancer Center and Roy J. Zuckerberg Professor of Cancer Research David Tuveson and Assistant Professor Tobias Janowitz wrote an editorial in the latest edition of Cancer Discovery. The piece, entitled “The Era of COVID-19 and the Rise of Science Collectivism in Cancer Research”, discusses the active participation of cancer researchers in COVID-19 research and how it can help future scientific endeavors.

“COVID-19 has greatly threatened the care of patients with other diseases, and this has been further motivation to researchers and doctors from a diverse range of disciplines to apply their skills to COVID-19. This is especially true for cancer researchers,” they explain. One such researcher is CSHL Assistant Professor Mikala Egeblad, whose research into neutrophil extracellular traps (NETs) has implications for both cancer and COVID-19 treatment. Both Tuveson and Janowitz also developed an outpatient symptom tracking method based on a model used in cancer research.

The authors add that cancer researchers are used to working with illnesses that affect multiple parts of the body, as COVID-19 does, and are knowledgeable on methods that bolster or lessen the immune system. They also advocate that this shift to studying the SARS-CoV-2 virus could help build interdisciplinary bridges:

“Our time engaging with non-cancer experts in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic may usher in a new type of scientific collectivism where we more openly share ideas and approaches to rapidly develop effective therapies and diagnostics for both COVID-19 and cancer patients.”

Read the entire editorial on the Cancer Discovery website. Both Tuveson and Janowitz discussed this topic and more, at the virtual American Association for Cancer Research meeting, entitled “COVID-19 and Cancer”, on July 20–22, 2020.

Written by: Sara Roncero-Menendez, Communications Associate | roncero@cshl.edu | 516-367-6866

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