University researchers: Research & Innovation continuity of operations
Mar. 18, 2020
This message was sent on behalf of Research & Innovation to subscribers of the University's ResearchNotes group email list.
In response to direction from Governor Sisolak and Chancellor Reilly over the past 24 hours, the University is implementing procedures so that all non-essential employees will shift to working remotely and on-campus operations will cease as of 5 p.m., March 18, for at least 30 days. Access to campus will be limited to faculty, staff and students attending to critical functions of the University who have their own building keys or cards.
The University research enterprise will move to a ‘maintenance-only’ mode of operations. Contingency plans are being implemented to ensure the continuity of operations for Research & Innovation (R&I) services. Effective today, R&I faculty and staff are working remotely, EXCEPT FOR THOSE RESPONSIBLE FOR CRITICAL OPERATIONS. For critical operations, on-campus availability of personnel and supplies continues. It is our intention to maintain seamless, quality services, and your understanding is appreciated as we adapt to operating in this unusually fluid and challenging time.
All PIs seeking to continue on-campus research must determine which of the on-going experiments are critical. PIs should transition their research labs to majority-remote operation and suspend on-campus research to the extent possible, immediately. This ramp-down checklist can assist in planning for ramp-down of laboratory operations.
It is understood that the long-term viability of many research programs during this period will require management of essential animal lines, equipment, liquid nitrogen stocks, and certain long-term experiments. To meet these needs, it is requested that each laboratory (or neighboring group of laboratories) identify 1-2 key personnel who will be responsible for this essential ongoing maintenance. Laboratories with large numbers of animals may wish to name no more than 3 key personnel. When selecting key personnel, consider those whose commute does not depend on public transportation.
When determining the appropriate size of your lab’s “skeleton crew,” please also consider any equipment that might require gas or cryogen monitoring/service, such as deep-storage freezers, electron microscopes, mass spectrometers, and incubators. Keep in mind that any potentially hazardous operation will require at least two trained and qualified persons be present.
Please see the University’s Updates on the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) for general campus-wide information and additional FAQs with more details about Research Continuity. The information shared with you by email on March 7, 2020 (“Preparing for potential impact to your lab or research program”), remains applicable and is also on this site.
Current Status of R&I Services
Sponsored Projects personnel are working remotely and continue to provide proposal review, submission and advisory services, invoicing and reporting, and award setup and negotiation services. While there may be some adjustments as they adapt to operating under these uncertain and rapidly changing times, Sponsored Projects fully intends to meet proposal, invoicing and reporting deadlines, and appreciates your patience and understanding.
The primary, suggested means of contact for any staff, faculty, or sponsors needing assistance through Sponsored Projects is a shared inbox, firstname.lastname@example.org, The main office line will continue to be supported during business hours throughout this period: (775) 784-6680.
Sponsored Projects continues to monitor the situation closely, and offers the following Council for Government Relations websites as sources of national/federal information:
Environmental Health & Safety
Environmental Health & Safety (EH&S) continues to operate per normal work schedule and will maintain functions essential for support of research laboratories, which are chemical receiving and delivery, and hazardous waste management. Most EH&S staff will be working remotely and can be contacted using their University email. EH&S can be contacted 24/7 at (775) 327-5040. All incidents (e.g., chemical spills, personnel exposures) should be reported to EH&S by calling (775) 327-5040.
Research Core Facilities
The Nevada Proteomics Center and the Nevada Genomics Center will finish all current work and will limit their future operations. For urgent lab work, please contact the lab directors via email. The Nevada Center for Bioinformatics will be operating remotely and all meetings or consultation with its scientists will be conducted via Zoom.
All public operation at the Innevation Center was halted Wednesday, March 18 at noon. Members will still have limited access to the facility. The Innevation Center’s Makerspace is closed. Only individuals with after-hours access to the Makerspace will be able to enter for essential work only. This and additional information has been communicated directly to Innevation Center members.
Additional R&I Services Continuing Operations
Proposal Capture Team:
Data Management and Curation:
Activities related to data management and curation, administration of ScholarWorks repository application will be performed remotely. Contact Rohit Patil, email@example.com.
Conflict of Interest:
Conflict of Interest will continue operations on a limited, remote basis. Contact Michele Dondanville, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Activities of the Undergraduate Research office will be conducted remotely. All UR international awards are canceled. The NURA deadline will be extended and will be announced on the UR website. The spring symposiums are canceled. Monitoring and approving awardee work hours will continue as normal. Contact Tanya Kelley, email@example.com.
Enterprise & Innovation:
Services continue remotely. For MTAs and NDAs, contact Cara Baird, firstname.lastname@example.org.
For all other matters contact Ellen Purpus, email@example.com, (484) 318-9509, or the team member with whom you have been working.
Research Involving Human Participants
PIs should plan to take and implement specific actions to limit transmission of the virus by delaying or otherwise modifying non-essential interactions with human research participants. However, please do not feel you should modify or delay any research interventions or activities that are in a participant’s best interest, unless you believe the COVID-19 risks are likely to outweigh the intrinsic benefit to participants from the research.
Should you decide to modify your research specifically to reduce potential COVID-19 exposure to participants or staff, please do so without waiting for IRB approval, however an amendment and protocol deviation form must be submitted through IRBNet within five days. If you need to adjust data collection procedures during this time (such as collecting data over the internet or phone), please contact Research Integrity staff.
Research Integrity will be prioritizing new projects and amendments (changes to already approved projects) related to coronavirus, but you should feel free to make risk-reduction changes as quickly as is feasible and report those changes to the University’s IRB.
- If you or your research staff are planning to personally interact with human research participants due to essential and/or time sensitive data collection, it is wise to screen them in advance of meeting for current symptoms of COVID-19 including fever, cough, sore throat, shortness of breath, and muscle aches.
- Information on recent travel by the participant to CDC level 3 countries should be collected and contact with such travelers should be avoided.
- Individuals with any of the above symptoms should not be brought to campus. Instead you should advise them to review health precautions contained on the CDC’s COVID-19 web page, including to contact their healthcare provider for medical advice.
- Participants should be informed that screening information will only be used to determine eligibility to participate and will be destroyed shortly after the screening process is concluded.
Submissions Currently Under IRB Review:
If you have a project currently in the middle of the review process and you need to make changes to that project, please reach out to Research Integrity staff and we will assist with getting those changes submitted as quickly and seamlessly as possible.
Contacting Research Integrity Staff:
Our office will continue to process submissions and assist the research community during this time but we are working remotely, so please reach out to us through email. We will also be available through Microsoft Teams.
When reaching out to us about your research, please have the following information ready:
- Submission type: New project or amendment
- PI name
- IRBNet ID number (if you have one)
- Funding source: N/A or specify agency
- Description of study and changes
- Whether any procedures are just for the current limited contact period or permanent for the duration of the research
Faculty Travel Grants and Cancellations/Postponements
If your conference has been postponed please forward communications from the conference including any estimated dates or locations to the firstname.lastname@example.org. If you have booked travel and have incurred fees due to cancellation, documented attempts should be made in a timely manner to show the awardee tried to get a refund from the:
- conference if it was canceled and the conference organizer’s response
- airline and the response
- any other transportation company that was engaged, and the response
If the request for refunds was denied because they were not submitted within a certain time-period (as required by the organization, airline, etc.), then cancelation costs will come out of the total award amount.
Research travel and/or Visiting Scholars/Students
All non-essential, University-related/research-related travel should be avoided. “Essential faculty travel” is defined as travel required to preserve 1) the safety of a patient or research subject or 2) the results of research activity. Please see the University’s Updates on the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) for further guidance. Please postpone visiting scholar and visiting student researcher visits.
Faculty Start-up Packages
All start-up packages ending on June 30, 2020 are now extended to September 30, 2020. If formal requests are still being considered for longer periods of time for reasons other than COVID-19 delays, please follow the normal procedure that is outlined on R&I website.
Material Transfer Agreements
Material transfer agreements for tangible materials to be sent from and to campus will continue to be negotiated and signed. It is unclear at this point if service delivery disruptions will occur or if special measures will be taken by shipping and receiving units to manage or inspect the contents of shipments.
Work Involving Biological Agents
All PIs must have approval from the University’s Institutional Biosafety Committee prior to performing any research that involves biological agents or for changes (amendments) to existing research. New IBC protocols (MOUAs) or amendments to existing protocols should be submitted using the standard online procedure (using Safety Stratus. Specific questions should be directed to Kristin Eliasen, email@example.com or Ben Owens, firstname.lastname@example.org.
Research Involving Animal
Laboratories should be prepared to ramp down, curtail, or postpone animal research experiments if and when the need arises. If experiments must continue, please limit the volume of activity and the reliance upon Animal Resources staff members for technical service support such as injections, surgeries, and research-dedicated supply orders. Animal Resources will continue daily animal care as always.
Animal Resources is currently well-stocked with animal food, bedding, and other essential supplies. Ongoing regular care of animals is expected with only minor changes to the frequency of some non-essential processes. Animal Resources has well-developed plans to respond to a variety of curtailment or reduced staffing scenarios, and will communicate directly with relevant PIs if campus circumstances change. However, to conserve resources, all incoming and outgoing animal shipments are postponed until the status changes per the instructions from University administration. Please discuss plans with Animal Resources veterinarians if you have questions.
Vice President for Research and Innovation
Ross Hall, Room 201
We are grateful to our colleagues at University of California, Berkeley and Harvard University. Several of the FAQs were adopted from UC Berkeley’s COVID-19 Current Research Operations & Continuity Planning website and the lab ramp-down checklist was developed by Harvard University.