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How we’re supporting our members during COVID-19

How we’re supporting our members during COVID-19

The year of 2020 has been a challenging for everyone. Lab work had to be put on hold and funding was uncertain. At the British Society for Neuroendocrinology (BSN) we have worked hard to support our wonderful community of members and we will continue to do so as the pandemic unfolds. Here’s a summary of what we have done so far and our plans for the coming months.

April 2020: COVID-19 Membership survey

Our membership survey earlier this year helped us understand where you, our members, needed support in your scientific research. Thank you to everyone who took the time to fill in the survey – your feedback was vital in shaping the support we went on to offer. The main themes from the April 2020  survey were:

  • Delays to research and publications, loss of momentum, loss of progress in animal models, breeding and genotyping
  • Students and ECRs on short-term grants particularly affected with loss of lab time, no indications of any financial assistance to extend Post-doctoral Fellow/Research Fellow contracts or PhD stipends/fees
  • Finances - end of contract during lockdown, difficulty finding next position, redundancies
  • Deployment to NHS and resulting issues
  • Isolated from neuroendo community, missing conferences and training opportunities
  • Grant and fellowship applications - on hold, lack of grants, increased competition
  • How to get lab working again afterwards
  • Inability to stay in science due to lack of finances

May 2020: COVID-19 support grant

We launched a new grant programme to support neuroendocrine research projects during this difficult time. The COVID-19 support grant was shaped based on the feedback from our survey and targeted the following four areas:

  • Funds to cover up to three months’ (FTE) salary for final year postdocs
  • Funds to cover up to three months’ (FTE) stipend for final year PhD students
  • Funds for current BSN Project Support Grant holders, where the outcomes of these grants were under threat. They had to demonstrate that additional costs were being incurred due solely to the COVID-19 situation and that the outcomes of the grant would be seriously compromised by lack of funds to pay these additional costs
  • Funds to cover specific costs associated with animal experiments that are a direct result of the COVID-19 pandemic, e.g. re-establishing a colony required to complete a project for a final year PhD student or postdoc

May 2020: Early career researcher hub

The pandemic and resulting funding situation will likely hit early career researchers (ECRs) hardest. In May we launched our ECR hub – an online space that gathers all our resources to help our ECRs with their career journey. Here you can find blogs, interviews and lecture recordings, links to the ECR summer webinar series recordings, information about BSN’s mentorship scheme and neuroendocrine briefings.

June, July, August 2020: Early career researcher Summer webinar series

During the summer of 2020 when lockdowns were being imposed to curb the COVID-19 pandemic, it was crucial for ECRs to be able to continue disseminating research as well as connecting with other neuroendocrine researchers. In response, the BSN set up a series of summer webinars by and for early career researchers, to allow ECRs to stay up to date with developments in neuroendocrinology and network with other researchers at a time when in-person conferences and meetings weren’t an option. Three webinars were held over the summer months, and all recordings are free to watch for BSN members.

August 2020: Mentorship scheme for early career researchers

In August, we launched the BSN’s mentorship scheme. We are delighted to have a team of mentors who are also BSN members willing share their expertise and experience in the field of neuroendocrinology with mentees. Mentors and mentees can discuss anything related to their work - from career progression to navigating tricky work environments.

Upcoming plans

  • Second COVID-19 Membership survey
  • Second COVID-19 support grant programme based on survey results

Please get in touch if you feel there are other ways in which BSN can support your research during these uncertain times via theteam@neuroendo.org.uk.


Photo by National Cancer Institute on Unsplash