The school collaboration days were a little bit different this year, but we are still incredibly happy to see all the Ullern students back at school.
The corona pandemic dampened the spirit of the school collaboration days this year. This is usually when the first-year students at Ullern Upper Secondary School get to visit the different institutions and companies that are located in Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park  together with the school. However, the traditional lecture with Jónas Einarsson, one of the founding fathers of the Innovation Park, was still held.
Jónas Einarsson is the CEO of Radforsk , an early stage evergreen fund that invests in and develops cancer companies. The fund is also behind Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park, which houses Ullern Upper Secondary School.
“I will tell you a little about the history behind the Norwegian Radium Hospital, cancer and cancer treatments, but first I have to talk a little about Covid-19 and the pandemic that we are all in the middle of,” Einarsson began his speech for the first-year students.
He continued by explaining that a corona vaccine may be available in 2021, but that it will take time before everyone receives the vaccine and for the whole population to gain immunity so that everything can go back to normal again.
“This has a big effect on young people in particular, but you are very smart. Just make sure to stay away from rave parties in caves,” Einarsson said and the students smiled.
Then, Einarsson told the story of how modern cancer treatment came into being when Marie Curie discovered the potential of radium to destroy cancer tumours, and how the Norwegian doctors Heyerdahl and Huitfeldt worked tirelessly for almost 20 years to establish the Norwegian Radium Hospital, which opened in 1932. Right next to it, Ullern Upper Secondary had recently opened its doors, so the school and the hospital have a long history as neighbours.
“In 2015, we opened Oslo Cancer Cluster Innovation Park and the neighbourhood became even closer. The school collaboration project between the school and the members of Oslo Cancer Cluster was established already in 2009, when we knew that we would move in together,” Einarsson said.
The rest, as they say, is history, but the corona pandemic has put a damper on the collaboration. Due to the current disease prevention in place, the usual placements have been cancelled and the close collaboration between students and researchers needs to be adapted. Exactly how this will take shape during the autumn of 2020, no one knows yet, but lectures and video conferences will serve as replacements.