Two people having a conversation on sofas at the Crick, wearing face coverings.

Looking forward to 2021

At the end of the year, we had expected to be looking back at 12 months of exciting research, collaborations and achievements. We didn't anticipate that 2020 at the Crick would also include hundreds of people putting their work on hold to tackle a pandemic, a clinical testing system set up in 12 days, and for science to be thrust into the spotlight like never before. To mark the end of the 2020, we asked people and teams across the Crick to tell us about their bright spots of the year and their hopes for 2021.

Amit

Four researchers standing by desks.

Amit Samani

Clinical Fellow, Oncogene Biology Laboratory

It's cliché, but I hope for the resumption of ‘normality’. I’m really excited about the vaccination programme and hope uptake is sufficient to protect everyone. I know that for some, the roll-out of vaccines has been met with apprehension and scepticism. I realise that I probably live in a bubble, so I hope that as scientists and clinicians we continue to educate and correct the misinformation accessible online. 

I’m proud of the Covid pipeline volunteers. Huge thanks to Miriam Molina Arcas, Rachel Ambler, Goran Tomic and all across the Crick who’ve sacrificed their time, keeping us safe. Coming from the NHS, the reliability and efficiency of our service is nothing short of astounding!  

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"I hope that next year, science does not try to return to 2019."

- Adrian Hayday

Adrian & Lou

Adrian Hayday

Group Leader, Immunosurveillance Laboratory

I’m most proud of the selfless and unwavering response of young researchers to Covid-19. Sensing, out of the blue, that their skills might help turn a tide of human catastrophe, they put aside projects to which they were dedicated, and made a difference.  

I hope that next year, science does not try to return to 2019; that we collectively and enthusiastically seize the momentum of the COVID-19 response – the success of teams as contexts for individual success and collective support; unprecedently rapid and open data dissemination and discourse; straightforward, transparency in reviews and decision-making; unrestricted, fast-tracked collaboration; more bottom-up, less top-down. 

Louise Wren

Head of External Affairs

I’m proud that the Crick has stood side-by-side with medical research charities as they make the case for Government support in the wake of Covid-19. The Crick would be a very different institute without charity funding – their investment makes a difference every day in labs across the building.   

The response to Covid-19 has depended on collaboration on a scale that I’ve never seen before and it’s been humbling to see some of that first-hand at the Crick. I hope that this continues in 2021 with more blurring of boundaries and incredible partnerships between academics, businesses, clinicians and beyond, right across the UK and internationally.  

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"One of the many systemic problems this year has brutally highlighted is importance of scientific outreach."

- Laabiah Wasim

Laabiah & postdocs

Laabiah Wasim

PhD Student, Immune Receptor Activation Laboratory

I’m proud of how the Crick continued events like “Meet a Scientist” virtually. Public engagement is especially crucial in a time of general anxiety, widespread misinformation, and where people feel they’re on the outskirts of the science and public policy that’s transformed daily life. 

My hope is that I continue to translate the lessons from this year into 2021 and beyond. One of the many systemic problems this year has brutally highlighted is importance of scientific outreach. As PhD students we can sometimes underplay our domain knowledge, however to the general public and among friends and family, we are experts and we need to continue engaging on issues that inevitably matter to us all. 

Nathalia de Vasconcelos, Claudia Gerri and Ana Bolhaqueiro

Postdocs, Antimicrobial Defense Laboratory, Human Embryo and Stem Cell Laboratory and Epithelial Cell Interactions Laboratory

As part of the London Postdoc Network, we have engaged with aspects of the Crick beyond research, noticing the many opportunities available for career advice, training, public engagement and networking, and recognising how we could harness those to help postdocs. 

We hope that in 2021, life will return to (close to) normality! Lockdowns, quarantines and anxiety negatively impact postdocs' scientific careers on the short and long term. We hope that by getting more researchers involved in the network, and by hearing their needs, we can organise more events that target them. We want to stimulate social interaction (as allowed!), but also create a sense of community among postdocs. 

Clare

A group of school children in the Crick's teaching lab.

Clare Davy

Education Manager

This year, we’ve found so many new ways to support schools: from virtual work-experience placements for teenagers, and teacher training on Zoom; to developing Covid-secure practical workshops for primary and secondary school classes, and funding IT solutions to help bridge the digital divide. 

In 2021, we hope that we’ll be able to re-open the Weston Discovery Lab to visiting groups. And that when our external evaluators report back on the effect that seven years of engaging with the Crick has had in our neighbourhood, we hope to hear that lots of the children are aspiring to work somewhere like the Crick.   

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"I hope we are as impactful in building a better world after Covid as we have been throughout the pandemic."

- James Fleming

James F and translation team

James Fleming

Director, Information Technology & Services

I’m most proud of not just the extraordinary things like the Covid-19 testing pipeline, but the way colleagues adapted to keep all of our ‘normal’ programmes on track. It was going to be hugely demanding without Covid – to have still delivered despite it is amazing. 

I hope we are as impactful in building a better world after Covid as we have been throughout the pandemic. The UK needs great science more than ever, and I’m sure we can rise to the challenge with aplomb. 

Scientific translation team

We’re really proud of the speed at which ideas and hypotheses are being translated into developing new tests and treatments for Covid-19. For example, our team worked closely with our partners LifeArc and UCL, and group leader Veni Papayannopoulos, to launch a clinical trial testing the cystic fibrosis drug ‘Dornase alfa’ in patients with COVID-19, to see if it can help improve survival by reducing excess inflammation in the lungs.
 
We hope that in 2021 and moving forward, researchers continue to be inspired by the impact discovery science has on patients. We want to continue to nurture a research culture where scientists consider how their research can be applied to tackle healthcare challenges and can access the expertise and support they need to turn ideas into technologies, medicines and diagnostics.

Christina

Christina Dix

Laboratory Research Scientist, Making Lab

The unusual circumstances of this year gave me the opportunity to step up and take on more project management responsibilities, particularly coordinating the Making Lab to manufacture over 2000 visors for the NHS, Crick staff, local schools and community groups.  

In 2021 I want to keep building on the new skills I have gained. This past year has given me self confidence in my own abilities. I want to use this going forward to continue taking on projects and facing the varied challenges each one brings. 

Christina Dix making visors.

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