What immediate steps can researchers take?
Please refer to the DU COVID-19 Protocols for Research, Scholarship, & Creative Work
How can I keep up with all communications coming out about research?
There are several ways to stay up to date:
- Sign up for the Research listerv.
- Participate in Virtual Research Town Hall meetings – please email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the distribution list for future meetings.
- Reach out to the Sr. Vice Provost for Research and Graduate Education (Corinne.Lengsfeld@du.edu).
Restarting Research Paused Due to COVID-19
When can PIs resume research in labs and human subjects research in person?
Researchers may resume research once they are approved to return to campus by following the DU COVID-19 Protocols for Research, Scholarship, & Creative Work” guidance. All PIs and their research staff members must follow the DU COVID-19 guidelines that have been established for reopening research, scholarship, and creative work.
When PIs do ramp back up their research, what will they need to do and what supplies will they need?
To safely resume research, research teams will be required to adhere to strict safety guidelines in DU COVID-19 Protocols for Research, Scholarship, & Creative Work. All PIs and research personnel must obtain approval and access to their lab or work site, and receive an acknowledgement letter before restarting any research. Once a PI has been approved to restart their research, EHS will make arrangement with Housekeeping to provide appropriate disinfectant to be used in the lab or workspace. Please note this is subject to change.
What can PIs be doing now to prepare for returning to their research?
- Contact their Dean to seek approval for returning to their building on campus. This will initiate a process for formal approval and granted access.
- Be in contact with your funder to determine what flexibilities are allowed.
- Be in contact with partnering institutions to determine if there are additional requirements that are mandated by the affiliated research facility. DU investigators must comply with that institution’s safety protocols in addition to applicable DU protocols.
- Consider your various active projects and determine which can be conducted remotely to continue to reduce risk (preferred), which need be conducted in labs or in-person while adhering to safety guidelines, and which should remain on pause until safety guidelines are less restrictive.
- Carefully review DU COVID-19 Protocols for Research, Scholarship, & Creative Work.
- Develop a safety protocol for projects that need to be conducted in labs or in-person in the community.
- Gather safety supplies needed as possible. PIs are encouraged to purchase face coverings/masks for their research staff and require participants to either wear their own face covering/masks or provide a face covering/masks to research activities. Many grants allow PPE to be charged. If PIs have insufficient funds to pay for PPE, they should contact ORSPadmin@du.edu for help acquiring supplies as available.
- Wait for announcements from the Provost’s Office indicating if additional restrictions will be lifted and the next phase for returning to campus has been approved.
- Please note this is subject to change.
Is in-person human subjects research allowed?
Once a PI has received an acknowledgement letter and building access from the Provost’s office, they can restart the following forms of human subjects research.
- In-person human subjects research on DU campus that follows strict safety guidelines is allowed.
- In-person human subjects research at other research and higher education institutions that follows safety guidelines is allowed.
- In-person human subjects off campus, including community-based organizations, who have established safety guidelines, is allowed.
- In-person human subjects research that involves bodily fluids, (i.e., blood draws, sputum samples, etc.) regardless of whether it takes place on or off campus, is allowed if established safety guidelines are established.
- In-person human subjects research in participants’ homes is NOT allowed at this time.
Who should I contact if I have questions about safety protocols or guidelines?
Please contact your SPARC representative or Jerry.Mauck@du.edu with questions.
What is the guidance for repurposing federal funding from the NSF to respond to COVID-19?
The Foundation has issued guidance on NSF’s implementation of the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Memorandum (M-20-20), entitled, Repurposing Existing Federal Financial Assistance Programs and Awards to Support the Emergency Response to the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). NSF remains committed to working with the Administration, other federal agencies, and the research community to effectively respond to the COVID-19 national emergency. This guidance is to implement the flexibility class exception authorized by OMB Memorandum M-20-20 that allows Federal awarding agencies to repurpose their Federal assistance awards (in whole or part) to support the COVID-19 response, as consistent with applicable laws. This will certainly help address questions that recipients may have regarding the donation of items/resources from NSF awards.
Any questions about the policies described in the NSF Guidance should be directed to email@example.com. Questions specific to a particular award should be directed to the cognizant NSF Program Officer. NSF is working to update existing FAQs and other resources to reflect NSF’s new guidance and will keep you informed on our website at: nsf.gov/coronavirus.
Should I cancel travel plans related to research (conferences, site visits, etc.) amid the COVID-19 outbreak?
Please refer to the university’s COVID-19 page for the latest information regarding university travel restrictions.
What is the suggested general guidance regarding research costs?
For guidance on specific costs, please first refer to DU’s main COVID-19 page for FAQ’s on temporary institutional changes for policies and procedures. Information such as changes to travel and payroll guidance will be continually updated. Additional questions and answers can be found below and we will continually update these questions and answers as we receive guidance and updates.
I am a principal investigator working remotely from home during self-isolation. Can my effort still be charged to my federal grant?
Yes, provided you remain engaged in your project. Current NIH and NSF prior approval requirements regarding disengagement from the project for three (3) months or more, and effort reductions of 25 percent or more, remain in effect.
Proposal Submission and Award Management
Will my proposal still be submitted to the sponsor on time amid a COVID-19 outbreak?
Staff within the Office of Sponsored Programs are working remotely and proposals are being submitted timely. Please continue to follow the Proposal Submission Policy located here.
Will my proposal still be submitted to the federal government on time if the federal agency to which I intend to apply is closed due to a COVID-19 outbreak?
All federal agencies are accepting proposal submissions as usual. In the event a COVID-19 outbreak closes a federal agency that is currently accepting proposals, we expect the agency will continue to accept proposals; however, the proposals will most likely remain in a queue (e.g., within the Grants.gov system), pending resumption of agency operations – as has been the case during recent federal budget-related shutdowns.
The Council on Governmental Relations (COGR) developed a webpage (link is external) that features comprehensive links to key federal agencies' COVID-19 operations.
How can I reach staff within the Office of Sponsored Programs?
The Office of Sponsored Programs employees are working remotely and will respond to emails at ORSP@du.edu.
As it relates to research grants, how does the National Institutes of Health respond to natural disasters and other emergencies?
Please visit the NIH research website for recent notices and policies.
As it relates to research grants, how does the National Science Foundation respond to natural disasters and other emergencies?
Please visit the NSF’s website for recent notices and policies.
As it relates to research proposals, how is the U.S. Department of Justice responding to COVID-19 public health emergency?
Please visit DOJ’s website for recent notices and policies.
What should I do if I have an internal DU award such as a (FRF, PROF, Knoebel Pilot) for which the COVID-19 conditions will likely halt or slow progress to completion within the funding period?
All internal awards will be given a 1-year automatic extension. Please contact Janet Ianni with your award number to request the extension.
Human Subject Research
Can I still continue to recruit participants during the COVID-19 pandemic?
Yes, if the recruitment and ongoing data collection is done in a method that follows the current DU safety protocol, recruitment for your research project can continue as approved by the IRB.
Can I still interact with my research subjects?
All research studies that were initially approved by the IRB that involves direct person-to-person interactions, with the exception of research in participants’ homes, may resume as originally approved if all research personnel and participants follow the DU safety guidelines. If remote methods were implemented in response to the COVID-19 restriction, the IRB does not require that a formal amendment be submitted to convert back to in-person interactions. However, if research interventions can continue remotely, it is still recommended to limit in-person interactions, if possible.
Are research participants allowed to come to the DU campus (i.e. lab) for research activities?
Yes, PIs and any of the research staff who have been approved to be on campus, may contact research participants and resume research activities on the DU campus if the DU safety guidelines are followed. The guidelines include completing a daily Personnel Symptom Monitoring Survey when you arrive on campus and when you leave, and following the policies on social distancing, face coverings, and disinfecting cleaning the lab and work sites. A visitor survey to monitor symptoms must be completed for each research participant visiting campus, and all visitors must follow policies on social distancing and wear a face covering/mask while on the DU campus.
Do I need to submit an amendment if I modify my protocol to use an electronic format for obtaining data rather than collecting through an in-person interaction?
No. The IRB does not require that current research participants be re-consented. The IRB does not require an amendment application be submitted through IRBNet for this type of change. Nor does the IRB require an amendment application be submitted through IRBNet if research activities revert back to in-person interactions from using a remote format.
Can research that has does not require IRB approval and has received a Human Subjects Determination letter collect data through in-person interactions?
In-person interactions with participants may occur if the DU research personnel have been approved to be on campus and follows the strict safety protocol regardless of whether a proposed project qualifies as human subjects research.
Do I need to modify my current consent if I will continue to recruit new research participants and plan to change the method to collect data from in-person interaction to “remote” options?
Yes. The IRB must review and approve any changes in the project procedures and they must be reflected in the research consent when administered to new research participants. An amendment application must be submitted through IRBNet along with a tracked and clean copy of the informed consent document. For any new amendments to a research project, the IRB recommends that the PI incorporate the use of remote options as well as in-person interaction into the protocol and consents. This change will allow investigators to utilize either method without having to modify documents later to adapt to the lessening or increase of restrictions due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Which studies or study procedures must be paused?
- No in-home visits conducted for research purposes are allowed. This restriction is reviewed weekly and is subject to change.
Which studies may continue?
Once a PI has been approved to be on campus and received an acknowledgement letter, they can restart the following forms of human subjects research.
- In-person human subjects research on DU campus that follows strict safety guidelines is allowed.
- In-person human subjects research at other research and higher education institutions that follows safety guidelines is allowed. Other institutions may have their own guidelines for restarting research, and PIs should develop plans that meet both institutions’ guidelines (or the more restrictive policy) as they prepare to restart their work.
- In-person human subjects research at other community-based organizations that have their own established safety guidelines. In the event that an organization’s guidelines are less restrictive than DU’s guidelines, DU researchers must follow DU’s safety guidelines.
- In-person human subjects research that involves collection of bodily fluids as long as that research does not occur in participants’ homes.
- Studies conducted electronically or via telephone or involving secondary data analysis may continue.
I am interested in conducting research with infectious SARS-CoV-2 (causative agent of COVID-19). What should I do?
Both IRB and IBC approval may be necessary prior to initiating any studies related to COVID-19. Refer to the CDC link for additional guidance.
Is the DU IRB operating as usual and still processing IRB submissions?
Yes, the DU IRB staff is currently reviewing and processing IRB submissions submitted through IRBNet. However, during the initial review of a project, the IRB will assess whether the project has modified the study design to accommodate the current COVID-19 restrictions.
Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the IRB staff are working remotely but are responding to emails sent to the IRBAdmin@du.edu account. Please submit your questions to this email account and an IRB staff member will respond within 24 – 48 hours.
Research Involving Animals
What plans are in place to ensure that the animals housed on campus will continue to receive care?
The Animal Vivarium will maintain mechanisms for providing continued daily care to all animals housed on campus in the event of a natural disaster or other events that may interrupt normal business, including the COVID-19 situation. This includes continued veterinary medical care; assessment of animal health and wellbeing; provision of food, water and clean cages; and maintenance of appropriate environmental conditions. Our top priority is to continue the provision of critical life support services that ensure animal welfare.
The Provost Office is issuing clearance letters and managing the requests for essential personnel for animal research studies.
My IACUC protocol is expiring and I would like to continue my work. Do I still need to renew my project before the 3-year expiration date?
Yes, researchers are still required to renew their IACUC projects if they wish to continue their work after the 3-year expiration date. Protocols with animals that are currently being housed in the vivarium will be transferred to the Vivarium Holding Protocol, and work will not be able to continue until a renewal protocol is approved.
Do I still need to complete a Post Approval Monitoring (PAM) Meeting for my IACUC project during the approval anniversary month?
Yes, all researchers are still required to complete an annual PAM meeting for their approved protocols. The IACUC Administrator will send a reminder email before the anniversary month of the protocol approval and work with each researchers to set up a time to complete this process over a Zoom call.
For any other questions related to research involving animals, please contact the IACUC Administrator at firstname.lastname@example.org. Additional information can be found on the COVID-19 Pandemic Contingency Planning for Animal Care and Use Programs webpage (https://olaw.nih.gov/covid-19.htm) provided by the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare (OLAW).
Undergraduate Student Research
Under COVID-19 precautions, should undergraduates conducting research for credit be allowed to continue working in the lab?
Yes, Under Phase III guidelines, undergraduates conducting research for credit will be allowed to continue working in the lab with the approval of their faculty advisor. Students must follow all DU Research safety protocols.
Graduate Student Research
The COVID-19 situation will impact my graduate research and/or dissertation. What should I do?
DU will work to mitigate any challenges that the COVID-19 situation creates in completing research projects and/or dissertations on time. We encourage open communication with your advisor to ensure agreement about procedures for graduate student researchers in each lab.
I am a faculty advisor to a graduate student who is trying to complete their research. What advise can I provide if the research lab is not operational?
We ask all faculty to work with students to accommodate their particular situations, while helping each student continue their research path under the current circumstances. Currently, only essential personnel are allowed on campus and in research labs.
Under “Safer at Home” orders, researchers, including graduates students must follow the DU COVID-19 guidelines that have been established for reopening research, scholarship, and creative work issued 5/11/20. Prior to returning to campus, all individuals must obtain their Dean’s approval and complete a survey link to formally register and obtain access to campus. Once approval is granted by your Dean, individuals will be sent the survey link. No employee may return to campus until they have received a formal acknowledgement letter and have been granted card access to their designated location.
Remember that research and scholarship involves many activities that can occur remotely, including literature reviews, experimental design, data analysis, use of digitized archives and other online research and data collections, video and phone interviews, and writing. We ask all faculty to work with graduate students to allow flexibility with regard to where research is performed.
Research Facilities/Laboratory Safety
What can I do to prepare my laboratory research area?
Update your Contingency Plan to include the following:
1. Identify procedures and processes that require regular personnel attention (e.g., cell culture maintenance, animal studies, human subjects contacts).
2. Assess and prioritize critical laboratory research activities.
Level 1: Work can be conducted remotely
Level 2: Work can be delayed or stopped, but requires onsite presence to continue (e.g., non-essential lab experiments)
Level 3: Long-term experiments and activities that would generate significant financial and data loss if not completed
Level 4: Essential activities that must continue (e.g., vivarium, human samples that cannot be recovered, maintenance of liquid nitrogen freezers)
3. Identify any research experiments that can be ramped down, curtailed or delayed.
4. Identify essential personnel able to safely perform essential activities and submit requests to the Provost Office.
5. Ensure you have access to contact information for your critical staff.
6. Consider documenting critical step-by-step instructions.
7. Review emergency procedures with researchers and staff. Ensure your door signage is up to date.
8. Maintain a sufficient inventory of critical supplies that may be impacted by global shipping delays.
9. Ensure that high-risk materials (radioactive, biohazards, chemicals) are secured and freezers are labeled with emergency contact information.
10. All waste should be secured.
Are there any restrictions regarding how many individuals can be in a research laboratory space?
To accommodate reduced laboratory density, researchers can plan to:
- Occupy labs at 50% capacity and 6ft social distancing.
- Develop staggered schedules
Should researcher expect shortage of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), such as N95s and gloves that are often used in laboratory spaces?
Research laboratory managers and PIs should anticipate a PPE shortage, and limit the number of essential personnel entering lab spaces that require donning and doffing of PPE (masks, gowns, face shields, etc.) for critical lab functions. This is especially important for users of N95 masks because these items are being prioritized for the healthcare industry. Please contact EH&S to discuss options available if shortages do occur.
Research Involving Recombinant DNA and Biological or Chemical Hazards
My IBC protocol is expiring, and I would like to continue my work. Do I still need to renew my project before the 5-year expiration date?
Yes, researchers are still required to renew their IBC projects if they wish to continue their work after the 5-year expiration date. Protocols involving the use of recombinant DNA or other biological and chemical hazards that are not renewed will be closed, and work will not be able to be resumed until a renewal protocol is approved.
Do I still need to complete a Post Approval Monitoring (PAM) Meeting for my IBC project during the approval anniversary month?
Yes, all researchers are still required to complete an annual PAM meeting for their approved protocols. The IBC Administrator will send a reminder email before the anniversary month of the protocol approval and work with each researchers to set up a time to complete this process over a Zoom call.
For any other questions related to research involving recombinant DNA and biological or chemical hazards, please contact the IBC Administrator at email@example.com.