The dark side and the bright side of the confinement

Adriana Loverre


Confined for weeks, France kept adopting additional measures to contain the pandemic. Fortunately, the number of hospitalized people is decreasing as well as the number of cases in intensive care.

I had started to work in the lab just a month and a half before the confinement began. This slows everything down: orientation, training, my ability to settle in.

I’m working at Institut Curie, one of the leading research centers in the world. In this institute, brilliant scientists from every part of the world work together to fight cancer using innovative approaches. Thanks to a recent discovery from my host lab about how viruses can activate the immune system, the startup company Stimunity was founded. We develop drugs based on virus- like particles that can boost the immune system to selectively and efficiently fight cancer.

But since I can’t go to the lab, I cannot benefit from this unique chance to do great science in such an extraordinary environment. And if I consider that I have a limited time to do that, it’s frustrating that I have to spend so many days isolated.

Anyway, there’s always a bright side. I’m spending this time reading. I’m taking advantage of the quite atmosphere of my apartment in the XIV “arrondissement” of Paris to gather information about my project, to think deeply about it, and to hypothesize. I hope that this will maximize the chances of my research success. The thinking process also helps me to escape from reality. Then I look at the window, and the breathtaking view of the Eiffel Tower brings me back. I’m in Paris, everything is sleeping. But not my brain!

I realize that during this confinement, I’m training myself to be resilient—the ability to quickly recover from difficulties. After this is all over, I’ll be more flexible; I will know how to adapt better to different circumstances. And once back to normality, I will appreciate the ordinary things I used to take for granted. There is always a positive side, in every situation. Furthermore, this epidemic is for me the umpteenth incentive to dedicate myself to science. The importance of research has now, more than ever, a priority importance, and I am glad to be part of INITATE, and to have the opportunity to make my contribution.

Adriana Loverre is an Italian PhD based in France