NET Research: Temporary Delays due to COVID

by John Kanki, PhD,
NETRF Director of Research

Due to the COVID-19 restrictions implemented in March, NETRF Awardees have had to delay their funded research efforts to protect the health of investigators, their staff, and their families. Most all non-essential laboratory and clinical research were stopped due to the imposition of institutional mandates. NETRF has kept in touch with its awardees to track their current NET research activities as well as their expectations for research going forward. The overwhelming response of investigators is positive and while COVID-19 has hindered their work, they realize that this delay is temporary, and that research will resume as restrictions are eased at their respective institutions. 

During the shutdown, nearly all researchers are finding ways to refocus efforts to continue aspects of their NET research while maintaining safe distancing. Nearly all have been able to shift their current work to tasks outside of the laboratories and clinics, which include data analysis, writing manuscripts, and retrospective reviews for publication, generating new proposals and grants. Everyone continues to be intellectually engaged with the issues of NET biology and its treatment and the process of generating new, innovative ideas remains unaffected.

Going forward, nearly all NET awardees feel that the current institutional COVID-19 restrictions are unlikely to last more than six months, and while they feel that the return to 100% research capacity will be a gradual process, all feel that this will be achieved within a year. The majority optimistically hope to be back up to speed within six months. Over this transition period, they expect to maintain social distancing, the continued use of PPE and undergoing regular COVID-19 testing. They expect that work in laboratories and clinics will take place in shifts that limit the laboratory populations to between 25 to 50% at the start and as the situation improves, move towards 75% and eventually, 100% capacity. 

NETRF remains completely committed to providing support for its researchers and clinicians through these challenges and will do all it can to support the redeployment of effort to maximize the continuing conduct of these NET studies. We are deeply encouraged by the commitment and ingenuity demonstrated by our talented researchers as they redeploy their efforts to maximize research progress during this temporary delay in their NET work imposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.