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6 April, 2020 - 12:41 By Tony Quested

Cambridge portal recruits scientist reserves ready for front line action

A new portal created by a Cambridge business is acting as a recruiting sergeant to bring more scientists into the front line of the war against coronavirus.

BioStrata Ltd, a specialist life science marketing agency, has launched the Scientists on Standby portal to boost overflow resource for testing COVID-19.

The initiative was rapidly conceptualised and unleashed in response to the pandemic, specifically in anticipation of the increasing pressure on UK diagnostic testing laboratories and facilities in the coming weeks and months. 

The portal enables scientists with relevant skills and experience to volunteer their time, expertise and support for COVID-19 screening and testing.

Scientists on Standby is looking for qualified scientists specialising in reverse transcription-Polymerase Chain Reaction (rt-PCR), immunoassays and Good Laboratory Practice (GLP). 

The portal will provide government bodies and diagnostic testing laboratories with a database of UK-based volunteers, grouped by location for easy regional allocation, who have the capacity to offer their expertise and experience to help in the fight.

Clare Russell, co-founder and managing director of BioStrata, said: “During this unprecedented time we have seen incredible dedication, collaboration and innovation within our industry.

“Many organisations and teams are coming together to overcome the medical and logistical challenges presented by COVID-19. Within our team, we have a number of ex-researchers and clinical scientists and we were keen to find a way that we could contribute and make a difference. 

“On consultation with industry partners and colleagues we felt that Scientists on Standby was a resource that would be required and welcomed.”

In an effort to help battle this pandemic, the life science industry has rallied together to develop, produce and supply more testing kits and reagents. These will be needed so that healthcare providers and government bodies can test a large proportion of the population and better understand how COVID-19 is spreading. 

Such widespread testing will be an essential tool for managing the risks posed by the disease and saving lives, as well as directing government policy on the release of social isolation initiatives. 

However, this rapid surge in testing demand will likely leave a gap in terms of the qualified resource able to process samples and run assays over the coming weeks and months.

Paul Avery, co-founder and joint MD of BioStrata, added: “We predict that the industry could soon be in need of experienced scientists who could help with COVID-19 screening and test processing, to increase the volume of diagnostic testing being performed. 

“An expanded testing capacity will enable the rapid screening of both diseased people and those who have been exposed to the virus but remain asymptomatic, essentially containing the spread of COVID-19. 

“In many ways, we hope that we won’t need to request the help of those on the standby list – but we’d rather have one and not need it than the other way around.”

• To add your name to the growing list of volunteers at Scientists on Standby, visit www.scientistsonstandby.com

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