Research continuity guidance: Imperative personnel aspects, additional guidance

Apr. 1, 2020

This message was sent on behalf of Research & Innovation to subscribers of the University's ResearchNotes group email list.


We are in Week 2 of our remote-operation mode at this University. I am truly appreciative of the commitment demonstrated by the University’s research community and the response to our guidance provided on March 7 and March 18. Additional information is available on our Research Continuity web page.

I would like to take this opportunity to remind us again of some of the imperative, personnel-related aspects of communications provided through Research & Innovation over the past three weeks.

For all research, other than that deemed to be critical in nature (see critical-research guidance below), PIs should immediately transition their research labs to majority-remote operation and suspend on-campus research to the extent possible. 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 2 trained and qualified persons be present.

If personnel are present in laboratories, ensure they (i) adhere to recommended social distancing, and more, (ii) are provided with appropriate PPE, and (iii) are provided with EPA-registered disinfectant products that have been qualified for use against SARS-COV-2 for cleaning work surfaces and all touch points. Please note that if these standards cannot be met and supplies are not provided, PIs are prohibited from requiring their supervisees (research personnel, post-docs, graduate students, undergraduate students, and staff) to be present in the laboratories to conduct experiments and/or other projects-related work. View the most recent list of EPA-registered disinfectant products.

The following scenario review provides further guidance on what may be considered critical research and lab operations. Would the scaling back and/or shutting down the lab and/or research operation result in the following:

  1. Constitute a safety hazard if discontinued
  2. Result in the loss of significant existing or in-process data if discontinued
  3. Negatively impact the maintenance of critical samples, reagents, materials, animal populations, plant cells, tissue cultures, bacteria or other living organisms, instrumentation, cryogen monitoring, research cores and other infrastructure
  4. Impact COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 research targeted at mitigating the emergency, or
  5. Potentially harm a human subject if discontinued

Please note that federal funding agencies are updating their websites and providing guidance on a daily basis. Information on funding opportunities, in general, and on COVID-19 specific funding opportunities, in particular, are being relayed to the deans, shared through our ResearchNotes group email list, and are also available on the various agency websites. Suggested links to COVID-19 related federal updates and grant funding opportunities are also provided on our Research Continuity web page.

All support services of the Research & Innovation division are continuing, predominantly through remote-working arrangements, while EH&S and Animal Resources continue to provide a necessary and appropriate level of on-site service. Please contact these services as questions arise.

Thank you for your cooperation and helping keep our campus community safe and healthy as we continue our research work in a remote-operation mode.


Mridul Gautam
Vice President for Research and Innovation
Ross Hall, Room 201
(775) 327-2363