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All Across the University, Only a Few Labs Were Stirring

As students, researchers, and professors put down their pipettes to visit family or relax over breaks, some researchers take advantage of mostly empty labs to get work done, Stat News' Karen Weintraub writes.

Amy Rommel, a postdoc at the Salk Institute, tells her that usually long waits for using the tissue culture hood or slide scanner evaporate over the holidays.

Meanwhile, Jim Allison recounts how, some 20 years ago, when he was at the University of California, Berkeley, an experiment his student set up before leaving showed antibodies blocking CTLA-4 on the surface of immune T-cells could treat mice with lethal skin cancer. This, Weintraub notes, paved the way for immunotherapies.

Still, these researchers note that time away from the lab is important to have. "I think vacations add value to the work you've done," Harvard Medical School's Nicholas Stroustrup tells Weintraub. "I don't think anybody does their best work when they are tired and overworked."