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The Biologist has launched a new COVID Q&A series exploring how life scientists around the world have sprung into action to help understand, track, and treat COVID-19. 

The interviews include Sir Paul Nurse Hon FRSB on repurposing Europe's largest biomedical research centre to conduct mass testing for NHS staff; Dr Adam Kucharski on how modellers have helped provide rapid insights into the outbreak and the virus itself, and immunologists Dr Elizabeth Mann and Dr Madhvi Menon, who are following the immune responses of patients arriving at hospitals across Manchester.

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Professor Paul Freemont FRSB said the response of the UK’s bioscience sector has been ‘outstanding’ as he discussed how he and his colleagues set up a high-capacity, automated diagnostic platforms for NHS hospitals in just a few weeks.

Many interviewees have told of the new and innovative ways of working and sharing data that have arisen during the emergency, including Open Cell’s Thomas Meany, who describes the live revision of data and online documents that has emerged as ‘crowd-science’. He is currently helping scale up open-source diagnostic assays from a lab contained in a shipping container, to a space in The British Library.

The next Q&As in the series will explore the response in the US with Columbia virologist Dr Angela Rasmussen, while next week Professor Pietro Cicuta explains the ideas and collaborative efforts coming out of Cambridge University. 

As part of the series, The Biologist is looking to hear from any RSB members or Fellows who have shifted their research priorities or repurposed laboratories to help fight COVID-19.

Contact tom.ireland@rsb.org.uk if you would like to be featured or have any information to contribute to this series.