CAMPUS NOTICE

 

OFFICE OF THE EXECUTIVE VICE CHANCELLOR

OFFICE OF THE VICE CHANCELLOR FOR RESEARCH

OFFICE OF THE VICE CHANCELLOR FOR HEALTH SCIENCES

OFFICE OF THE VICE CHANCELLOR FOR MARINE SCIENCES

March 13, 2020


ALL ACADEMICS AND STAFF AT UC SAN DIEGO (including UC San Diego Health Sciences and Health)

SUBJECT:    Conducting Research Activities During the Novel Coronavirus Outbreak (COVID-19)

PLEASE SHARE WITH ALL OF YOUR PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS AND RESEARCH GROUP LEADS

UC San Diego continues to safeguard the health and wellness of our students, staff and faculty by carefully monitoring the global progression of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). Our leadership and health experts are in constant contact with the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the California Department of Public Health, and San Diego County Public Health Services to ensure the ongoing safety of our campus community. Details about prevention and various campus updates are available on the campus website at: https://coronavirus.ucsd.edu/.

In order to address concerns specific to research about the impact of the coronavirus, we will be regularly updating our website (https://blink.ucsd.edu/research/COVID-19-research.html) with the most recent information both from UC San Diego and from external agencies. If you have questions or concerns that are not addressed there, please do not hesitate to let me know.

If emergency procedures are implemented, researchers and principal investigators on campus may face unique circumstances regarding their work. It is important to consider how these procedures may impact your research, your staff and your contractual obligations to any funding you receive.

All available information indicates that you can and should make several assumptions as you plan for ensuring the continuity of your research. Specifically, you should assume that:

Essential research infrastructure, such as power and telecommunications, will be maintained.
UC San Diego teams that support research, including Sponsored Program Offices, Animal Care Program, Human Research Protections Program, and Research Compliance and Integrity, will continue to support your research.
The Animal Care Program and Office of Environment, Health, and Safety will continue their essential research support functions.

However:

Some lower priority services from the Animal Care Program and Office of Environment, Health and Safety may need to be curtailed.
A significant percentage of your laboratory workforce may not be able to come to work, either because they are ill, or for other reasons, such as school closures, telecommuting recommendations, etc.
Orders for critical supplies may be delayed.
Some core facilities and other fee-for-service resources may not be available.

***CONSIDERATIONS TO ENSURE CONTINUITY OF RESEARCH***

LIMITED ACCESS TO CAMPUS

Currently there are no plans to restrict access to university research spaces; however, every research group should plan ahead in the event that campus access is restricted. In the event of such restrictions, there will be a need for designated personnel to carry out specific, essential duties. These include those functions focused on support for:

Human health, welfare and safety
Research animals, specimens, and research equipment including laboratory procedures and processes that require regular personnel attention
Information technology services or security
Building or property security, safety, and integrity
Critical infrastructure (e.g., power, water, heat, roads)
Critical business, contractual, or legal obligations including employee payroll

In each research unit, specific personnel responsible for these functions should be designated as part of your business continuity plan. If you are unsure of who in your research project should be designated, work with your department administrator or an equivalent administrator to identify such personnel.

In order to ensure continuity of research operations, we ask that you identify resources, vendors or other suppliers that are required to continue research during an emergency situation. We recommend that you order supplies well in advance of anticipated need so that your research is less subject to disruptions in the supply chain.

WORKING REMOTELY

Principal investigators and research group leads should discuss alternate workflows now to be prepared in the event that some personnel are unable to come to work. Such advanced planning will make future decisions straightforward and minimize disruption to research activities.

Examples of research work that can be done remotely include data analysis; literature reviews; writing proposals, reviews, or research papers; writing the background sections of theses; computational work; and meetings and discussions.

For this reason, you might consider prioritizing work at this time that can only be carried out in your research facility and holding off on work amenable to remote support. Stockpiling results and data now that could be analyzed remotely in the future is a potential option that might create future flexibility.

If you are carrying out a long-term experiment and if it is feasible to freeze samples at specific steps, you might consider doing this more often. If you are propagating cell lines or microorganisms that you have not yet frozen or otherwise preserved, it would be a good practice to do so before any research disruptions occur.

Principal investigators and research group leaders should consult guidance available from Human Resources on remote working arrangements for all personnel, including graduate students, postdocs and others: https://blink.ucsd.edu/HR/services/covid-19/. Additional information can be found at https://aps.ucsd.edu/facdev/covid-19/.

All personnel involved in research projects should ensure that they have access to equipment and information they need to carry out work remotely, including well-established VPN access. https://blink.ucsd.edu/technology/network/connections/off-campus/VPN/ Things to consider might include access to literature, to existing datasets and research-related files, and to meeting/communications software. Tools like Google, Zoom or Slack can be leveraged, along with Canvas https://edtech.ucsd.edu/faculty/index.html, our learning management system and Virtual Advising Center. Principal investigators should prepare to carry out meetings remotely. If you are unsure about whether you have access to such tools or how to use them, it is wise to test them now. Resources are available through Educational Technology Services https://edtech.ucsd.edu/education-continuity-tools-and-resources/.

ANIMAL RESEARCH

If your lab uses animals in its research, please consider continuity of care very carefully. While the team at the Animal Care Program has plans in place to ensure continuity of care, please be sure to communicate with them about animal care needs in the event of campus closure. They can be reached at 858-534-6064, or email Acp-directors-office@ucsd.edu. We ask that you work with ACP staff to identify resources, vendors or other suppliers that are required to continue research or care of animals during an emergency situation.

RESEARCH WITH HUMAN SUBJECTS

UC San Diego is committed to the health and safety of our research participants and our research clinical and administrative teams and values clinical research activities. To ensure safety of staff, research participants and research team members, all researchers performing human subject research will be required to align with the UC San Diego Health System plan to screen research participants for COVID-19 risk and implement precautions and policies. Tools to help you do so, including a script for screening participants by phone and in person, as well as other guidelines, will be made available and regularly updated at https://irb.ucsd.edu.

EXTERNAL PROPOSAL SUBMISSION

In general, we expect that all Sponsored Program Offices will be able to submit proposals as usual, even if personnel are working remotely. We recommend working with your Fund Managers and staff to ensure that proposal materials are routed as early as possible to your SPO, so that time is made for unanticipated delays that might be caused by the absence of staff impacted by COVID-19.

Our experience is that federal agencies are very flexible about deadlines under times of major emergencies. However, if agencies are officially closed, proposals will most likely remain in a queue, pending resumption of agency operations as has been the case during federal budget-related shutdowns. Information will be posted on the ORA and OCGA websites https://blink.ucsd.edu/sponsor/ocga/, if necessary.

If you have any questions about COVID-19's potential impact on an existing research project, project-related travel, or field work, please contact your Contract and Grant Officer.

Guidance from federal agencies has started to be distributed, including a Dear Colleague Letter from NSF encouraging researchers to be proactive in reaching out to their program officers if a research project will be impacted by COVID-19.

TRAVEL

President Napolitano has directed the UC community to temporarily halt all non-essential travel to CDC Level 2 and 3 countries. You can access the current list of countries where non-essential travel is restricted on the Academic Personnel Services website https://aps.ucsd.edu/facdev/preapprovalCDCLevel3travel.html along with information about pre-approvals and registration requirements.

As a reminder, the best places for current information regarding UC San Diego and COVID-19 are:

Current University Information re: COVID-19
https://coronavirus.ucsd.edu/
Patient and visitor information from UC San Diego Health
https://health.ucsd.edu/patients/Pages/2019-coronavirus.aspx
UCOP Information re: COVID-19
https://go.ucsd.edu/2W9V3cz



Elizabeth H. Simmons
Executive Vice Chancellor

Sandra A. Brown
Vice Chancellor for Research

David A. Brenner
Vice Chancellor for Health Sciences

Margaret S. Leinen
Vice Chancellor for Marine Sciences