A Clear Path Forward
In this time of unprecedented uncertainty, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory (CSHL) is drawing on its hallmark strengths of multidisciplinary collaboration, innovation and agility in our biomedical research and education programs. While the COVID-19 pandemic has dramatically changed our lives and our world, the characteristics that have made CSHL and its people so strong over the last 130 years continue to be our strength and allow our institution to continue to contribute to society now and in the future.
This special edition of the Harbor Transcript magazine and Annual Report respects the gravity of the pandemic and the impact that it has had on just about every aspect of our lives. At CSHL we are doing things differently and this digital experience that combines elements of traditional print CSHL publications demonstrates our new perspective. We invite you to pivot with us into the unfolding future, always guided by curiosity-driven research that spans boundaries between scientific fields and ideas that are freely exchanged.
I hope you enjoy engaging with these stories about how CSHL is helping address challenges of the pandemic with innovative scientific research and education initiatives that draw strength and inspiration from the very foundations of our historic mission.
As you can read in my President’s Essay, CSHL has always been a place of active learning, where hands-on and interactive experiences have been encouraged in both scientific training and public outreach. Travel restrictions, working from home and social distancing created the need for CSHL to look outward and bring our in-person and on-campus programs into participants’ homes.
CSHL’s pioneering pre-print servers bioRxiv and medRxiv are proving their value during the pandemic, allowing researchers and clinicians around the globe to share research findings related to COVID-19 in real time. CSHL’s mission in creating these preprint servers was to accelerate the free exchange of research by putting findings on the web for discussion and scrutiny before formal publication in a peer-reviewed journal.
CSHL’s strengths in molecular biology and genetics enabled our scientists to apply their knowledge in innovative ways to address diagnostic and therapeutic challenges of COVID-19.
Cancer researcher Mikala Egeblad homed in on specific COVID-19 symptoms in the lungs that appear strikingly similar to symptoms her team has studied in cancer metastasis. In a multinational collaborator effort, she is working to see if inflammation of white blood cells called neutrophils in the lungs is at the root of COVID-19 deaths from respiratory disease.
When plant biologists at CSHL heard there was a need for large-scale production of specific proteins to develop COVID-19 treatments, they immediately thought of plants as a potential, if unlikely, source. David Jackson, Rob Martienssen, and Ullas Pedmale are now testing their ideas in tobacco and duckweed plants.
“Thank you for your continued support of Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory. It has enabled us as a dynamic institution to very rapidly adapt to dealing with issues related to this pandemic… It also provides the financial strength so that we can move forward after the pandemic to back to the core of what we do to address other important diseases and food production.”
President & CEO