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Perspective
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Deborah Dormady Letham, PhD

A Good Year to Be Thankful for Scientists

It may be the year of virtual everything, but research is still moving forward seeking cures

It was fitting in this COVID year that we had a virtual “Gobbler Day” meeting for the molecular and methods lab crew – organized by Supervisor and Superman Sean “The Gins” Ginsberg and crew. Traditionally, everyone orders a delicious seasonal hot turkey and potatoes/stuffing/mac-n-cheese hoagie or bowl from the Philadelphia-favorite WAWA convenience store. (FYI - hoagies are the Philly version of a submarine sandwich). This year, a virtual team meeting was perfect and appreciated.  I listened from home, having grabbed my sweet potato Gobbler from my local WAWA. Others joined in from either of our local sites at their distanced desks.

I enjoyed witnessing the lab comradery, good-natured teasing, and team-building contests between sites.  I appreciated these many junior scientists, who have worked in the labs pretty much non-stop through all this, in staggered shifts to safely distance. We are appreciative because without them, and fellow lab workers across the globe, there would be no progress, no projects, and no pharmaceuticals! 
Eating lunch is always nice with friends and the best of the five virtual meetings that I had on this day (Wow 5!). Technology and our IT superheroes have allowed many of us to work from home, conveniently to watch kids, stay distanced, and burn the midnight oil if needed. Today, my virtual workspace ALSO enabled me to attend an online broadcast of an outdoor funeral service for my elderly aunt, who passed away last week. For safety and logistics reasons, I did not make the five-hour travel to Upstate New York and back, but marveled that my family from four states could join together virtually in support.

My elderly aunt died of cancer. I have so many memories of fun times spent at our family farm, and I am very thankful for her full life that touched ours. I am also EXTRA thankful for our Charles River Laboratories because of all the work they are doing in collaboration with scientists across the globe finding treatments and cures for cancer (and so many other ailments).

While working from home, I am now writing up a data report for a client who is developing cancer treatment platforms. This Thanksgiving, there are many working through cancer treatments and more and more each year going into remission for previously untreatable diseases. I am thankful for the Charles River scientists and staff around the globe, STILL working hard, in person and virtually (COVID or no COVID), to further healthcare, offer healthcare options and give others hope. Benefits from cancer treatments include personalized care. Every person making and testing medications touches these treatments, even if in a small way, just by doing their regular work. Thank you!

This Thanksgiving, grab your Gobbler, or whatever you choose, and keep working because you are making it easier for others to develop future memories of their own.

Happy Thanksgiving!