COVID-19 epidemic strongly affected cancer research in Italy: a survey of the Italian Cancer Society (SIC)

F. Bianchi, E. Dama, F. Di Nicolantonio, G. Baldassarre, I. Guerriero, E. Torchiaro, A. Bruno, G. Blandino, P. Allavena, P. Chiarugi, G. Sozzi, M. D'Incalci, N. Normanno

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


BACKGROUND: Italy was among the first countries hit by the pandemic of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) infection. The application of strict lockdown measures disproportionately affected both cancer patient care as well as basic and translational cancer research. MATERIALS AND METHODS: The Italian Cancer Society (SIC) conducted a survey on the effect of lockdown on laboratories involved in cancer research in Italy. The survey was completed by 570 researchers at different stages of their career, working in cancer centers, research institutes and universities from 19 Italian regions. RESULTS: During the lockdown period, the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic emergency on face-to-face research activities was high, with a complete (47.7%) or partial (36.1%) shutdown of the laboratories. In the post-lockdown period, research activities were resumed in most of the respondents' institutions (80.4%), though with some restrictions (77.2%). COVID-19 testing was offered to research personnel only in ~50% of research institutions. Overall, the response to the pandemic was fragmented as in many cases institutions adopted different strategies often aimed at limiting possible infections without a clearly defined contingency plan. Nevertheless, research was able to provide the first answers and possible ways out of the pandemic, also with the contribution of many cancer researchers that sacrificed their research programs to help overcome the pandemic by offering their knowledge and technologies. CONCLUSIONS: Given the current persistence of an emergency situation in many European countries, a more adequate organization of research centers will be urgent and necessary to ensure the continuity of laboratory activities in a safe environment.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)100165
Number of pages1
JournalESMO Open
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Jun 1 2021


  • cancer research
  • COVID-19
  • SARS-CoV-2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Oncology
  • Cancer Research


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