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Advancing the Frontier of Medical Research

Research Continuity Guidance for OSU-CHS Researchers, Laboratories and Facilities  

(Adapted from https://research.okstate.edu/researchcontinuity/index.html)

 

Updated March 19, 2020 
OSU-CHS continues to monitor worldwide coronavirus disease related developments.  Important information and updates for the entire OSU-CHS will be provided by email. 

 

The intent of this communication is to provide you guidance on preparing for significant disruptions to normal research operations because of possible widespread COVID-19 communal transmission. We have reviewed the status of the research office and have provided an assessment of how these services may be impacted to help you develop your strategic plan for the continuity of operations of your laboratory and research facilities through a set of recommended actions. 


Impact on Central Research Services:

Animal Care:

  • The animal care facility (Animal Resources) has an emergency plan to ensure that essential animal husbandry services will be effectively maintained. Any questions about the facility should be directed to: 
    • Rebecca Crandell, Assistant Director Research Compliance, 918-561-1409 
    • Ivy Cooper, animal care specialist, 918-561-1860 
    • Dr. Tom Curtis, Chair IACIU, 918-561-8264  
  • Research Compliance (including Animal Care, Biosafety, Human Subjects Research, Radiation Safety, and Laser Safety): 
    • Human Subjects Research - In light of COVID-19 health concerns, researchers are encouraged to modify research protocols to increase social distance and protect participant health. For studies approved at the Expedited or Full Board level, a modification should be submitted to the IRB in a timely manner after implementation. Exempt studies do not require a modification submission for protocol changes that reduce risks to subjects. 
    • Protocol review and services will continue their normal operations. 

University Research Services:

  • The Office of Research remains open and staffed and will continue to route proposals, awards and other sponsored research documents through the system.  
  • As of Tuesday, March 10th there was no federal guidance on reimbursements. NSF has released an updated FAQ that said the federal agencies are still working on allowable costs associated with COVID-19 disruptions. For non-Federal grants, we will need to approach each sponsor on a case-by-case basis unless they issue broader guidance. 
  • The Office of Research is reviewing questions, and awaiting sponsor guidance, relating to the allowable costs associated with any disruptions to sponsored projects stemming from the COVID-19. 

Recommended Actions for Mitigating the Impact on Your Research:

  • Principal Investigators and research leads should develop a plan in case a significant percentage of your workforce is out sick or unable to come to work. For example, consider altering work schedules to meet the demands of the laboratory while limiting close contact with others. 
  • Students, post-docs, staff and faculty involved in research projects should consider how to gain remote access to information such as literature, existing databases and research-related files and work remotely.  
  • Consider using remote work technologies such as VPN (for work at home) and video and teleconferencing as an alternative for in-person meetings (prepare multiple options for communication).   
  • Depending upon the nature of your research, you might consider prioritizing work that can only be carried out in your research facility, and collect all data and analyze remotely later. 
  • Consider rescheduling experiments or activities that would be ruined or invalidated if interrupted. Staff absences, limitations of supplies, external support services, and other factors may be unpredictable and outside researchers’ direct control during these disruptions. 
  • If you are carrying out a long-term experiment and it is feasible to freeze or otherwise capture samples at specific steps, you might consider doing this more often and analyze them later. 
  • Identify procedures and processes that require ongoing personnel attention (e.g., cell culture, animal studies) and develop plans to protect against possible disruption. 
  • If your research plans require modifications to an IRB, IACUC or IBC approved protocol, immediately contact the appropriate committee office to get the review process started for the required modifications. 
  • If a communication plan for your research group is not already in place, ensure that you have accurate and updated contact information for all members so everyone receives timely information. 
  • Research groups should review the building systems and equipment monitoring alerts on file with Systems Control at Facilities Management for their research space, making sure that all critical spaces and monitored equipment have correct protocols listed, verifying that appropriate staff contacts are listed for alert if systems should go into alarm, and verifying that names and contact information are correct. Plan for monitoring redundancy and continuity as needed. 
  • Consider cross-training research staff or colleagues who conduct similar activities to fill in for those who may be out sick or unable to come to work. 
    • Ensure that fill-in personnel have the appropriate training and tools needed to safely and competently execute assigned duties. 
    • Consider documenting critical step-by-step instructions for fill-in personnel. 
  • Maintain a sufficient inventory of critical supplies that may be impacted by global shipping delays. 

Safety Considerations:

  • Identify personnel able to safely perform essential activities and ensure that individuals performing critical tasks have been adequately trained, and understand emergency procedures. 
  • Ensure all personnel know whom to contact with technical or safety questions. 
  • Avoid performing high-risk procedures alone due to lack of personnel. 
    • When working alone is necessary, exercise maximum caution. 
    • Notify colleagues of your schedule when working alone for an extended period of time. 
  • Ensure that hazardous materials (radioactive, biohazards, chemicals) are secured. 

Preventive Measures:

  • Wash your hands frequently with soap and water for a minimum of 20 seconds. Hand sanitizer may be temporarily unavailable due to supply chain demands. 
  • Remind team members to stay home if they are experiencing symptoms including fever, cough, or difficulty breathing. Decontamination of your workspace may be appropriate if an active member of your team is exposed, develops symptoms, or is diagnosed with COVID-19. If you are experiencing symptoms, follow OSU guidance for contacting appropriate medical professionals. 
  • Routine environmental cleaning is recommended at this time. Laboratories and other groups should regularly disinfect commonly touched areas (e.g., doorknobs, sink handles, freezer doors, fume hood sashes, telephones) with effective disinfectants. 
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