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The Department's buildings are currently open for wet laboratory work only. We have carried out a comprehensive COVID-19 risk assessment process and have introduced a number of new measures to ensure the safety of our staff, including reduced building occupancy, strict social distancing, 'family'-based working, and increased cleaning and hygiene regimes. All staff who can work remotely will do so for the foreseeable future. Please continue to contact us by email until further notice.

Department of Biochemistry

Dr Katy Pitts.

In the new University of Cambridge reflections series, we hear how individuals across the University community have coped with 'unexpected experiences' during the COVID-19 pandemic, found new opportunities and are looking to the future.


Dr Katy Pitts could probably now write the How-To manual on re-opening a biochemistry department in a global pandemic. She tells us of the highs and lows of recent months as her colleagues embraced the necessary changes to return to the workplace – and how an encounter with 'The Distancer' has (literally) opened doors for all.


The last thing I expected just eleven weeks into my new job was to be sent home to work for my own and other's safety amid a global pandemic.

When I started as Principal Assistant and Safety Officer at the Department of Biochemistry, the virus was confined to Wuhan over 5,000 miles away. By the end of my first month, however, two cases of COVID-19 had been reported in the UK. It had reached us quickly and I hadn't been convinced it would reach us at all.

As the virus spread across the UK, our Emergency Silver Team Committee began to meet regularly to discuss contingency plans. We realised the effects of whatever came next would be felt in every area of the Department and so we invited representatives from all the different cogs in the Biochemistry machine. We knew we would need all the expertise and experience we could muster to tackle the problem as a team…


Read Katy's full 'Unexpected Experiences' piece on the University website.


Dr Katy Pitts.

Credit: Lloyd Mann, University of Cambridge.


Adapted from University of Cambridge 'Unexpected Experiences' article

Publication date

10 August 2020