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Carrying on at the Institute – Spotlight: Cho Lab


As we carry on with our mission during the COVID-19 pandemic, Burke Neurological Institute (BNI) is slowly and safely bringing back laboratory personnel to campus. Our researchers share what it is like to return to their laboratories in shifts to keep important research investigation moving forward.

How has your lab adapted to conducting research during the COVID-19 pandemic?

Dr. Sunghee Cho, Director of the Preclinical Stroke Modeling Laboratory at the Burke Neurological Institute and Professor of Weill Cornell Medicine, explains that in the earlier lab shut down period, the Cho Lab suspended all new research activities and engaged in ongoing research activities that required follow up experiments. Later on, lab members essential to carrying out laboratory experiments were allowed to come back into the Institute and adhered to guidelines regarding social distancing and wearing PPE. Other lab members devoted their time to write manuscripts as well as conducted data analyses and literature searches.

As the Institute began to slowly reopen in June, they changed their working schedules by implementing two shifts. To create a less crowded working environment, they extended the lab hours from early morning to the late evening. Each lab member logged their schedule to keep the number of people in the lab below the BNI occupancy guidelines. By choosing their preferred shift, extended hours allowed lab members to engage in ongoing important research activities without substantially limiting their time in the lab. In addition to research activities, they conduct meetings remotely via Zoom. In weekly virtual lab meetings, they discuss the progress of projects and routine lab maintenance issues/regulations. Weekly Zoom meetings between the PI and individual lab members provide uninterrupted time to discuss assigned projects in details.

What are you most proud of as a lab right now?

Dr. Cho explains that she feels very fortunate to have such a wonderful research team in her lab, “Each member has put a concerted effort to continue research activities during this unprecedented COVID-19 pandemic.”

One of her lab members, Nasiru Suleiman, is a Fulbright Scholar hosted by BNI since the Fall of 2019. Nasiru joined the Cho lab to learn stroke pathology and repair mechanisms for nine months before going back to Nigeria in May 2020. He continues to participate in their weekly lab meetings to learn more about stroke research. 

Dr. Cho is specifically proud of one of her summer interns who had to adapt once the new covid-19 guidelines were put in place. After working as a Summer Intern through BNI’s Summer Science Research Program in 2019, Reina Ashizawa, who attends Tufts University, received a scholarship to continue stroke research during the Summer of 2020. Due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent lab shutdown, Reina was unable to return to in lab research activities. Over the summer while staying safe, she completed 75 hours of reading and discussing on the subject about CD36 and neuro-immune interaction in stroke. Reina also participated in our virtual lab and individual meetings, as well as the BNI seminar series.


Conditions & Recovery

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Stroke is the leading cause of disability in the U.S.
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Remember and speak clearly.