A Letter From Lucy Shapiro, Ph.D., Director of the Beckman Center

The Beckman Center News / Fall 2021

Dear faculty, staff, students, and postdoctoral fellows at the Beckman Center,

The pandemic years, which began in early 2020 as a result of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, have been some of the most difficult for the Beckman Center since its inception in 1989. Laboratory work was curtailed, service centers were closed, and dissertations were postponed. Some postdoctoral fellows were forced to delay appointments to new positions, while many others had to struggle with visa issues that threatened to force a return to their home countries. While we are still facing pandemic challenges, in part due to the Delta variant and possibly others, the good news is that our high vaccination rate and mask compliance have allowed us to cautiously resume many of our activities. Notably, all of our service centers are back to full function and our departments have succeeded in hiring new faculty.

These pandemic years, while very challenging, have had some positive outcomes. They brought the Beckman Center researchers and staff together in ways we can all take a great deal of pride in. Department chairs, directors of finance and administration, and laboratory managers quickly worked together to establish a coherent and comprehensive set of policies and guidelines for the gradual reopening of the building. These steps, taken early in the pandemic, then served as a template for other centers, institutes, and departments that wanted to establish their own guidelines. In addition, Beckman Center researchers turned their attention in a very extensive and impactful way to COVID-19 research. Research ranged from work on RNA and single-dose vaccines to the profiling of SARS-CoV-2 infection in human lungs to the identification of robust immune T cell determinants for SARS-CoV-2 responses, along with a host of other related research. All of this research is highlighted in the 2021 Annual Report of the Beckman Center, which can be downloaded from the Beckman Center website.

The Beckman Center also stepped up to the pandemic challenge in numerous other ways. For example, the Protein and Nucleic Acid Facility provided critical primers and probes for Stanford University’s FDA-approved COVID-19 test, when these components were in short supply worldwide, and the Fluorescence Activated Cell Sorting Facility added high-end instrumentation to support Biosafety Level 2 researchers analyzing the complexities of immune system responses to SARS-CoV-2 infections. There were many other such efforts initiated by faculty and staff at the Beckman Center. 

All of this has convinced me of the need to continue the very constructive level of communication and cooperation we established in the early days of the pandemic as we move forward. For that reason, the Beckman Center is initiating a quarterly newsletter—the Beckman Center News—that will keep us all apprised of what’s happening at the center. This first edition of the newsletter will focus on how various components of the center responded to the pandemic crisis, with an emphasis on what we’ve learned collectively as a result of this experience and what precautions will be needed going forward.

I hope you will enjoy reading this and future editions of the Beckman Center News.

Wishing  you and yours a lovely holiday season.

Lucy Shapiro, Ph.D.
Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Professor of Cancer Research
Director, Beckman Center for Molecular and Genetic Medicine

For more information (media inquiries only), contact:
Naomi Love
(650) 723-8423

Lucy Shapiro, Ph.D.

Virginia and D.K. Ludwig Professor of Cancer Research

Director, Beckman Center for Molecular and Genetic Medicine