It has been more than a year since the world was forced to a halt by the most recent COVID-19 pandemic. While we all have been busy washing our hands, wearing masks and getting used to our new home office routine, the science world has been working non-stop to face the new challenge posed by this virus.
The situation is no different at LEAPS, the League of European Accelerator-based Photon Sources, which embraced the new challenge and reacted immediately and pragmatically. Despite operations being drastically reduced, all LEAPS member facilities joined forces and offered their expertise and capacities to the scientific community at large. Several facilities opened calls for rapid access to dedicated beam time for prioritizing research on the SARS-CoV-2 virus, and developing therapies and vaccines against the COVID-19 disease.
Nearly all facilities participating in LEAPS (ALBA, DESY, DIAMOND, ELETTRA, ESRF, EuXFEL, FELIX , HZB, HZDR, INFN, ISA, MAX IV, PSI, PTB, SOLARIS and SOLEIL) have been offering remote access to their equipment for COVID-19-related research practically from the beginning of the pandemic. Some could remain in user operation all through the pandemic by having settled remote access tools, offering mail-in and encouraging users to reduce team sizes and use mail-in and remote access.
Advanced experiments and measurements have been carried out in a multidisciplinary approach, in terms of understanding the virus and developing effective antiviral drugs. Many techniques were involved such as macromolecular crystallography to study the structure of viral components and its interactions with potential antiviral drugs, x-ray imaging to determine the 3D structure of the virus and understand the effects of the virus on human organs, cryo-electron microscopy and many more.
“This year has confirmed the wide-ranging talents and infrastructures within LEAPS and its member facilities” – states Caterina Biscari, Chair of LEAPS and Director of ALBA Synchrotron in Spain. Through their front-line engagement and the promotion of cooperation activities such as the “Learning to run again” webinar, as well as the endorsement of the EU COVID-19 manifesto and the participation in similar webinars , LEAPS facilities have once again demonstrated their crucial role in the European science and innovation world.
“During these difficult times, LEAPS facilities have been supporting each other by sharing visions and technologies in a complementary way “ says Mirjam van Daalen, Vice Chair of the LEAPS Coordination Board and Director of Communications a.i. at the Paul Scherrer Institut in Switzerland. “Within LEAPS, we also developed a common paper on the research on COVID-19“- concludes van Daalen.
LEAPS has proven to be dedicated to its mission and act as a powerful tool for the development and integration of skills with a view to address 21st century global challenges, and to consolidate Europe’s leadership in the field.
A list of experiments and publications on the new Coronavirus by each LEAPS facility has been added below. Additionally,a regularly updated list of publications on SARS-CoV-2 by LEAPS members and other synchrotron and FEL facilities around the globe can be found at lightsources.org. Lightsources.org is the result of the collaboration between communicators from light source facilities around the world.
- COVID-19 Research at ALBA Synchrotron– Spain
- COVID-19 Research at DESY – Deutsches Elektronen-Synchrotron DESY – Germany
- COVID-19 Research at Diamond Lightsources – UK
- COVID-19 Research at ELETTRA – Italy
- COVID-19 Research at ESRF – France
- COVID-19 Research at EuropeanXFEL – Germany
- COVID-19 Research at FELIX – the Netherlands
- COVID-19 Research at Helmholtz Zentrum Berlin – BESSY III – Germany
- COVID-19 Research at INFN – Italy
- COVID-19 Research at MAX IV – Sweden
- COVID-19 Research at PSI – SLS – Switzerland
- COVID-19 Research at SOLEIL – France
- COVID-19 Research at SOLARIS – Poland
From LEAPS associate partners overseas:
The Canadian Light Source (Canada) has created a specific page highlighting their COVID-19 research: COVID-19 research at the Canadian Light Source