Our lives have been substantially influenced by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic for more than a year now. We got used to keep distance from each other, spent countless hours on Zoom, canceled travel plans and are longing for eventual in-person meetings to become possible again. While our research was certainly also negatively affected by temporary lab shutdowns and reduced possibilities for exchanging thoughts and ideas with each other, the pandemic has also provided unexpected advantages and opportunities for our NCCR RNA & Disease: Suddenly, the broad public became interested in learning about RNA viruses and how to fight them with mRNA vaccines, whereas previously one of our biggest challenges in public outreach was to convey what “RNA” is and why it is important to investigate. In that respect, the timing for developing the Molecool – Cosmos RNA website turned out to be perfect. If you haven’t done so yet, check it out. That the cumulative expertise on RNA represented in our network was clearly sought-after during the past year is also exemplified by the many interviews in various media given by our NCCR members.
As many of you know, our colleague Steve Pascolo is one of the pioneers in developing mRNA vaccines and a co-founder of CureVac, and I am sure that the interview with him, which is the centerpiece of this Newsletter, will provide a highly interesting read both for the RNA geeks among you as well as for RNA-curious lay persons.
Oliver Mühlemann - Director NCCR RNA & Disease