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The hidden lives of the women scientists who tackled COVID-19

Researchers from the University of Portsmouth, have been recognised for their scientific excellence during the COVID-19 pandemic in a new book.

‘Snapshots of Women in COG: Scientific excellence during the COVID-19 pandemic’ has been published by the UK’s COVID-19 Genomics UK (COG-UK) Consortium

The book tells personal stories from women involved in the COVID-19 pandemic and is a celebration of their achievements. It also features stories from men who have played an active role in supporting and promoting women. 

Angie Beckett and Dr Sam Robson from the University of Portsmouth, along with research colleagues Sharon Glaysher, Kelly Bicknell and Allyson Lloyd from Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust, feature in the book.

Angie said:

“During the pandemic, people from many different universities, NHS Trusts, and Public Health Agencies, volunteered their time and expertise to tackle COVID-19 together. It was really inspiring and the cooperative nature of the work has had a lasting impact on me.” 

The COG-UK Consortium undertook UK-wide whole genome sequencing of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the cause of COVID-19, to identify variants of concern and aid our understanding of how the virus spread and evolved through the study of its genetic code. 

The researchers from the University’s Faculty of Science and Health, led by Dr Robson from the Centre for Enzyme Innovationanalysed the genetic code of thousands of viral samples from across the south of England. 

The data was made publicly available and used to track the virus as it spread and mutated. It helped to inform Public Health responses and policies, as well as the development of potential treatments and vaccines. 

Dr Robson said:

“My team and I have been proud use our expertise to have a positive impact on the pandemic. We worked with so many wonderful and talented people and this book is an opportunity to see their contribution recognised and their personal stories told. I hope that this will help to inspire young women like my daughter towards becoming future STEM leaders.”

Photo: University of Portsmouth