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COVID-19 can’t stop collaboration

photo of Banbury Center conference participants
Participants in a Banbury meeting returning to the conference room during a meeting conducted before the COVID-19 pandemic.

image of the Harbor Transcript logo Summer 2021 edition

During the challenging year of 2020, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory’s Banbury Center was able to welcome four groups to the estate before COVID-19 took hold: a strategy meeting for a new education and mentorship program for women and minority senior scientists, an analysis of the profession of science communication and relevant gaps in training and degree programs, a critical look at gaps in precision medicine, and an examination of copper as a therapeutic target in cancer.

The Center was closed to in-person gatherings that March, and after careful consideration of virtual meeting options, it was decided to postpone the 14 remaining meetings scheduled for 2020. The key arguments against virtual Banbury meetings were the loss of informal engagement opportunities and the limited ability to ensure confidentiality when using the remote format. While scheduled meetings were not made virtual, Banbury convened three additional virtual meetings tackling digital mental health treatment, therapeutic targets for COVID-19, and deep-sea mining.

Despite this near shutdown of meetings, three papers were published as a result of prior Banbury meetings. Participants in the 2019 Cancer Fibroblasts & Therapies meeting collaborated on a framework, and published in Nature Reviews Cancer. Recommendations from 2019’s Computational Psychiatry meeting were published in Biological Psychiatry. And, finally, The Nervous System in Cancer meeting participants produced a “Roadmap for the Emerging Field of Cancer Neuroscience,” published in Cell.

Written by: Jasmine Lee, Content Developer/Communicator | jaslee@cshl.edu | 516-367-5940

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