Research continuity

All research labs should have transitioned to majority-remote operation. A new process has been implemented to identify critical labs and research programs. PIs must submit a Request for Research Continuity form, to be routed through the department Chair/Head, Dean, Vice President for Research and Innovaton, and President to continue operations. All requests are due to Research & Innovation by 5 p.m., Tuesday, April 7, 2020.

Complete the Request for Research Continuity Form

Operations within Research & Innovation

Effective March 18, 2020, 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.

  • Research & Innovation division status

    Animal Resources

    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. Find more information on animal research in the following Guidance FAQs.

    Enterprise & Innovation

    Services continue remotely. For MTAs and NDAs, contact Cara Baird, carab@unr.edu.

    For all other matters contact Ellen Purpus, epurpus@unr.edu, (484) 318-9509, or the team member with whom you have been working.

    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. Find more information on specific services and research programs in the following Guidance FAQs.

    Innevation Center

    All public operation at the Innevation Center was halted Wednesday, March 18 at noon. Members 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.

    Nevada Center for Applied Research

    The office is operating remotely. Businesses working on campus or with NCAR have been communicated with directly. Contact ncar@unr.edu with questions.

    Proposal Capture Team

    Contact Carrie Busha, cbusha@unr.edu, and Kate Dunkelburger, kdunkelberger@unr.edu, for proof reading, proposal external review, and proposal consultation services.

    Research Core Facilities

    The Nevada Proteomics Center and the Nevada Genomics Center continue to operate. For proteomics lab work contact David Quilici at quilici@unr.edu and for genomics contact Paul Hartley at phartley@unr.edu. The Nevada Center for Bioinformatics will be operating remotely and all meetings or consultation with its scientists will be conducted via Zoom.

    Data Management and Curation:

    Activities related to data management and curation, administration of ScholarWorks repository application will be performed remotely. Contact Rohit Patil, rohit@unr.edu.

    Research Integrity

    The office will continue to process submissions and assist the research community during this time but Research Integrity staff members are working remotely, so please reach out to us through email. We will also be available through Microsoft Teams. Find more information about research with human participants in the following Guidance FAQs.

    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

    Sponsored Projects

    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. Find more grant-related information in the following Guidance FAQs.

     

    The primary, suggested means of contact for any staff, faculty, or sponsors needing assistance through Sponsored Projects is a shared inbox, ospadmin@unr.edu, The main office line will continue to be supported during business hours throughout this period: (775) 784-6680.

    Conflict of Interest:

    Conflict of Interest will continue operations on a limited, remote basis. Contact Michele Dondanville, mdondanville@unr.edu.

    Undergraduate Research

    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, tanyak@unr.edu.

COVID-19 related federal updates and grant funding opportunities

 

Research continuity guidance

With the ongoing concern about the spread of this disease, contingency plans to provide appropriate continuity for research-related services and, in many cases, the ramp-down or suspension of laboratories or research work have been implemented. Guidance and further information is provided in the following FAQs.

  • How do I maintain the long-term viability of my research program in compliance with the remote work procedures?

    All research labs should have transitioned to majority-remote operation. A new process has been implemented to identify critical labs and research programs. PIs must submit a Request for Research Continuity form, to be routed through the department Chair/Head, Dean, Vice President for Research and Innovaton, and President to continue operations. All requests are due to Research & Innovation by 5 p.m., Tuesday, April 7, 2020.

    Complete the Request for Research Continuity Form

    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.

    Operations and planning

    • Identify procedures and processes that require regular personnel attention (e.g., cell culture maintenance, animal studies).
    • Assess and prioritize critical laboratory activities.
    • Identify any research experiments that can be ramped down, curtailed or delayed.
    • Document a succession plan of who is the primary, secondary and tertiary responsible and authorized person to continue research and lab work in the event the primary person is unable to perform essential functions.
    • Identify personnel who are able to safely perform essential activities.
    • Ensure that you have access to contact information for your critical staff.
    • Cross-train research staff to fill in for others who may be out sick or unable to come to work.
    • Ensure staff have the appropriate training.
    • Consider documenting critical step-by-step instructions.
    • Coordinate with colleagues who have similar research activities to identify ways to ensure coverage of critical activities.
    • Review contingency plans and emergency procedures with researchers and staff.
    • Maintain a sufficient inventory of critical supplies that may be impacted by global shipping delays.
    • Consider installing remote control monitoring devices for critical equipment (e.g., -80 °C freezers, liquid nitrogen storage dewars, incubators).
    • Communicate significant planned absences and/or lab closures to Environmental Health & Safety, business offices and other key administrative units.
    • Track any costs associated with COVID-19 impacts
  • What assumptions can I use for planning, based on a scenario with widespread COVID-19 communal transmission?
    • A significant percentage of your laboratory workforce may be unable to work.
    • Essential research infrastructure, such as power and telecommunications, will be maintained.
    • Sponsored Projects will continue operations on a limited, remote basis with a focus on proposal submission deadlines, reporting and invoicing deadlines, and setup of new awards.
    • Animal Resources and Environmental Health & Safety will maintain critical functions.
    • Orders for critical supplies may be delayed.
    • Processing of visas by the federal government may be delayed, resulting in delayed appointments.
    • Core facilities and other fee-for-service resources may not be available.
    • Repairs performed by Facilities and other University and non-University service providers may be delayed.
    • Decontamination of your workspace may be necessary in the event of a local illness.
    • The University will communicate any disruptions to laboratory access.
  • What measures can I take to prevent the spread of illness among my research group if the risk of COVID-19 increases within the local community?
    • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for 20 seconds. Hand sanitizer is not a substitute for hand washing in the laboratory.
    • Disinfect common laboratory areas and touch points (e.g. doorknobs, sink handles, freezer doors, fume hood sashes, telephones) with 70% ethanol, diluted (1/50) bleach solution, or EPA registered COVID-19 disinfectant. View information on the EPA’s Registered Antimicrobial Products for Use Against Novel Coronavirus [PDF] .
    • Remind staff to stay home when they are sick or not feeling well.
    • Consider alternating work schedules to meet the demands of the laboratory while limiting close contact with others.
    • Identify work that can be done from home or remotely, such as data analysis.
    • Test and update remote work technologies such as VPN and Microsoft Teams conferencing.
    • Note: VPN access may be limited, and you may need to prioritize access for your group.
    • Avoid in-person meetings. Use remote work technologies such as Microsoft Teams conferencing.
  • What other considerations should I take for lab and research program safety?
    • Ensure that individuals performing critical tasks have been adequately trained and understand whom to contact with technical or safety questions.
    • Avoid performing high-risk procedures alone. When working alone is necessary, exercise maximum caution.
    • Notify colleagues of your schedule when working alone for an extended period of time.
    • Ensure that high-risk materials (radioactive, biohazards, chemicals) are secured.
  • Will there be changes to allowability of costs through grants?

    Sponsored Projects is reviewing questions relating to the allowability of costs associated with any disruptions to sponsored projects stemming from the coronavirus. Send questions to departmental business offices who should coordinate with Sponsored Projects. In order for a cost to be allowable, it will require consistent treatment across all funding sources.

  • Will I continue to have access to my research building?

    Beginning Tuesday, March 18, 2020, access to campus buildings will only be available to essential research staff who have building keys or keycards. Please know that regular access to campus buildings will be limited at least for the next 30 days. Please be prepared for the possibility that this period may be extended.

  • What should be done to prepare for the care of research animals?

    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. Please communicate directly with the Animal Resources veterinarians and team leads to coordinate project-specific roles and responsibilities for critical studies.

    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.

  • What about research involving human participants?

    If your study procedures require changes that are related to COVID-19, contact Research Integrity to identify the best approach that keeps the research on its trajectory.

    Changes to approved research procedures must be submitted to the Institutional Review Board (IRB) for review and approval prior to implementation of the changes.

    Special approaches during COVID-19

    We recognize that during these unusual times, there are unprecedented situations that may require special approaches to managing ongoing research. There may be confusion about the appropriate course of action, so we recommend that you contact Research Integrity staff for assistance. There are two such situations.

    • First situation: Eliminate immediate hazards. Implementing a change to procedures without IRB approval, known as a deviation, is allowable specifically in the instance where participant safety is a concern and research procedures are already underway. For example, an in-person follow-up appointment is scheduled and cannot be postponed without negative repercussions to the participant or the research and the researcher decides to conduct the follow-up appointment over the phone.

      In this instance, a deviation to protect participants and researchers can be implemented, but then must be reported to the IRB within 5 days. In addition to providing the IRB with the deviation report, should the deviation need to become a regular research procedure, an amendment submission is also required.

    • Second situation: Revise the study design or procedures. Because COVID-19 requires minimal contact between people, research procedures that require in-person interactions may need to change to alternative procedures in order to remain on the research timelines. An approved amendment is required before changes to procedures are implemented. The IRB will prioritize the review of changes to research due to COVID-19.

    Submissions currently under IRB review

    If you have a project currently in the review process and you need to make changes to that project, please reach out to Research Integrity staff and we will assist you with getting those changes submitted as quickly and seamlessly as possible.

    Screening participants

    • If you 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 subject 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.
    • Subjects should be informed that screening information will only be used to determine eligibility to participate and will be destroyed shortly after their participation in the study is concluded.

    Contact Research Integrity

    If there are any questions about conducting human research during COVID-19, please contact Research Integrity staff:

    Jan Anderson, jananderson@unr.edu
    Cecilia Brooke Cholka, cbcholka@unr.edu
    Ada Diaconu-Muresan, diaconum@unr.edu
    Nancy Moody, nmoody@unr.edu
    Christine Wallace, crwallace@unr.edu

    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
  • What if I was awarded a Faculty Travel Grant and the conference is canceled or postponed?

    If your conference has been postponed, please forward communications from the conference including any estimated dates or locations to the avpr@unr.edu. If you have booked travel and 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 cancellation costs will come out of the total award amount. 

  • What about research travel or visiting-scholars travel?

    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 postpone visiting scholar and visiting student researcher visits.

  • What guidelines are to be followed for working with biological agents?

    All principal investigators 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, keliasen@unr.edu, or Ben Owens, bowens@unr.edu.

    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 UNR e-mail account. 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.

  • How will delivery of hazardous chemicals be handled?

    Environmental Health & Safety will maintain a presence at Central Receiving every day and continue to inventory and deliver hazardous chemical products directly to the labs, as per current practices. Keep in mind the following:

    • EH&S does not currently inventory or deliver items that do not have GHS hazardous markings or warnings on them.  All such items will remain with Central Receiving staff.
    • EH&S does not handle or deliver items that are shipped on dry ice.  All such items will remain with Central Receiving staff.

    EH&S staff chemical inventory staff will be on campus between 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. daily. Contact Melanie Mayer, supervisor of the chemical inventory team, with questions at melaniemayer@unr.edu; office (775) 327-2271; cell (661) 312-6037.

  • Are there special considerations for invention disclosure, patent applications or receiving tangible research materials?

    There are no changes. Enterprise & Innovation is working remotely and available by email.