COVID-19

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Research continuity guidance: How OVPRI is mitigating the impact on the VCU research enterprise

OVPRI FAQs and announcements related to COVID-19 will be posted and updated on this page as they become available.

coronavirus particleOVPRI continues to monitor COVID-19 developments that may impact the VCU research infrastructure.

Important information and updates on the latest university actions, information and recommendations for the university community are available through the VCU COVID-19 website as well as the VCU Health COVID-19 website.

This site’s guidance is intended to help VCU and VCU Health researchers prepare for and respond to potential or expected significant disruptions to normal research operations in the coming weeks because of the spread of COVID-19.

It is difficult to predict the extent of disruptions we may experience. While we cannot plan for all contingencies, we have assessed how our services may be affected and how we can continue to serve the VCU research community. We will post additional guidance throughout this rapidly changing and challenging situation.


OVPRI impact and mitigation efforts

This page was originally posted on March 13, 2020. Any changes/updates are marked with the updated date.

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The VCU Human Research Protection Program will maintain operation of VCU’s IRB and will remain available as a resource and to guide investigators and teams. All personnel and IRB members are set up to work remotely, as needed. Staff may be reached via email or phone for consultation.

The HRPP Staff are tracking FAQs and have posted responses on the COVID-19 and Human Research: FAQs page. The FAQs will be updated on an ongoing basis. (added 3/19/20)

Investigators whose studies are reviewed by external IRBs (e.g., NCI Central IRB, WIRB, and others) should follow guidance provided by their reviewing IRB:

Ongoing Human Research Activities

Study sponsors: Investigators should check with their study sponsors for any necessary guidance and maintain communications as often as possible during this time.  

Study sites: Investigators should contact their study sites (including VCU Health and affiliated sites) as well as community partners regarding access, service, and resource changes resulting from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Guidelines for reducing risk:

For research involving no direct (in-person or physical) interaction with participants, the research may continue with little or no disruption.  

All human subject research activity involving little or no potential health benefit to participants must pause all in-person interaction with participants immediately. This requirement applies regardless of the IRB of record approving the VCU human subject research activity. 
(updated 3/18/20)  Read the OVPRI announcement here.

For research involving potential health benefit to participants, OVPRI has issued important additional guidelines for investigators that took effective March 23, 2020. Please see the guidance here

It is important to note that the risk/benefit ratio will be dynamic in the context of the epidemic and may change dramatically and quickly. Therefore risks and benefits to research participants should be considered on an ongoing basis.  

Resources should be evaluated, including: the availability of supplies needed to conduct the study safely; staffing needed to conduct the study; availability of community partners; and availability of clinic and ancillary services to ensure the safety and welfare of participants.  

If you have questions, please contact the following individuals:  

  • IRB approval or submission, the HRPP, ORSP@vcu.edu or 804-828-0868
  • Clinical research program, Lisa Ballance, Executive Director for Clinical Research and Compliance, at lballanc@vcu.edu
  • VCU Health facilities and supplies, Mary Harmon, Director for Clinical Research at VCU Health (mary.harmon@vcuhealth.org)

New IRB submissions

The IRB and HRPP will continue to review and process protocols while staff work remotely.

  • All IRB submissions should utilize the normal RAMS-IRB review/submission process. 
  • New IRB submissions related to investigational treatment of or changes to mitigate risks from COVID-19 will be prioritized
  • If amending a study in response to COVID-19, please follow the instructions in this COVID-19 Contingency Protocol form. (updated 3/17/20)

OVPRI has a comprehensive plan to ensure that essential animal husbandry services will be maintained.

We are stockpiling certain supplies to help ensure animal and technician safety.

Administrative staff will telecommute if necessary and provide for continuity of service.

If you plan to submit an animal research protocol, the IACUC office will continue to review and process protocols while working remotely. All new protocols, three-year renewal protocols and protocol amendments should utilize the normal RAMS-ACUP review/submission process.

If you have any questions, please contact Amy Chuang at 804-828-6587 or at IACUC@vcu.edu. All email communications and updates are posted at http://wp.vcu.edu/acup/.

Urgent animal welfare issues: contact a staff veterinarian on call immediately at 804-840-5085. 

FAQ generated from the DAR coronavirus meeting

 

Jump to Plan of Operation for:

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VCU MID-ATLANTIC TWIN REGISTRY PLAN OF OPERATION

As of March 23, VCU Mid-Atlantic Twin Registry (MATR) employees will continue registry operations, while teleworking, that are consistent with the mandated “research ramp-down” and requirement for social distancing.

The MATR Repository, located at the Virginia Institute for Psychiatric and Behavioral Genetics (VIPBG) Laboratory, will have limited support for maintenance of the samples. No new samples will be accepted at this time.

No new projects accessing the MATR or MATR Repository may be initiated unless directly COVID-19 related.

Work telephone numbers will redirect to staff personal phones and they are available during conventional business hours.

Please direct any questions regarding these policies to the MATR administrator, Emily Lilley, 804-828-8138.

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VCU STRUCTURAL BIOLOGY CORE FACILITY PLAN OF OPERATION

As of March 23, the VCU Structural Biology core facility will operate with significantly reduced staffing and availability, consistent with the mandated “research ramp-down” and requirement for social distancing. The core will only provide limited support only for the most essential ongoing research and maintenance of the facility. No new work contemplating use of the core should be initiated.

As of March 23, all shared structural biology instrumentation by non-core employees is prohibited until further notice, even if previously scheduled. Only core employees and designated essential personnel (with approval) will be allowed into the Structural Biology Core rooms.

As of March 23, the Structural Core will not accept new samples or initiate new project until further notice. However, ongoing data collections conducted by core staff will continue until completed. New samples for data collections would only be accepted under extraordinary circumstances, such as samples directly related to COVID-19.

To promote social distancing, the core will be staffed with irregular hours as of March 23. Core staff onsite will not be available for customer interaction and will conduct only essential work and instrument maintenance. Customers should communicate with core staff through teleconference, email or telephone wherever possible.

Core employees are Dr. Martin Safo, director, 804-929-3040; and Faik Musayev, manager, 804-869-7020. If you need data from already completed work sent to you for further analysis, please contact Faik Musayev.

During conventional work hours when a teleworking employee is not present in the core, work telephone numbers will redirect to staff personal phones and they will make themselves available during conventional business hours.

Please direct questions regarding these policies to core director Dr. Martin Safo. Customers are kindly asked to refrain from directing their inquiries elsewhere and employees have been instructed to direct all inquiries to the core director.

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VCU TISSUE AND DATA ACQUISITION AND ANALYSIS CORE PLAN OF OPERATION

As of March 23, the VCU Tissue and Data Acquisition and Analysis Core (TDAAC) will operate with significantly reduced staffing and availability, consistent with the mandated “research ramp-down” and requirement for social distancing. The core will provide only limited support for only the most essential ongoing research. No new work contemplating use of the core should be initiated.

Only core employees may enter TDAAC laboratory as of March 23.

To promote social distancing at to reduce laboratory density, as of March 23, the core will be minimally staffed. The core’s single onsite employee’s primary responsibility will be instrument maintenance, monitoring freezers and officially designated essential work only. Core customers are encouraged to communicate with core staff through teleconference, email or telephone wherever possible. Staffing hours are subject to change, and customers should coordinate any unavoidable direct contact beforehand by telephone or email.

Most TDAAC employees have been asked to telework. Only manager Pamela Jill Grizzard and the director Michael Idowu will be available to assist with limited research activities on-site. For activities requiring on-site support, only those that are directly COVID-related or have been officially designated as essential will be approved. All requests for onsite, routine non-essential use will be declined.

Service requests should be submitted using the online form. TDACC biorepository service requests may be sent to the core manager, Pamela Jill Grizzard, or director, Dr. Michael Idowu.

Service request submissions will be reviewed to ensure that they correspond to COVID-related or officially designated essential research activities only. Submission of a service request form does not guarantee that services will be provided. If you need to discuss your service requests, please contact Pamela Jill Grizzard or Dr. Michael Idowu via email.

All core employees will telework when they are not physically present in the core and will be available during conventional business hours. Please contact them with questions or to request help that can be provided remotely at those times. Core laboratory telephone numbers will redirect to an employee’s personal phone when no-one is physically present in the core.  

Questions regarding these policies should be directed towards core director Michael Idowu, 804-828-9004. Customers are kindly asked to refrain from directing their inquiries elsewhere and employees have been instructed to direct all inquiries to the core director.

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VCU GENOMICS CORE PLAN OF OPERATION

As of March 23, the VCU Genomics Core will operate with reduced staffing, consistent with the mandated “research ramp-down” and requirement for social distancing. 

To promote social distancing and with the goal of minimizing workplace density, the Genomic Core will largely be staffed remotely until further notice.

Core staff (Vladimir Lee, Ph.D.) will maintain and operate equipment as required from time to time as necessary to prevent damage to the instruments and to perform COVID-19 related research that is officially designated as essential.

Only Genomics Core employees will be permitted in the core (5028 Sanger Hall) as of March 23, until further notice. Any materials related to COVID-19 related research that is designated as essential must be dropped off outside of the core as directed by the core director after teleconference. Do not bring any samples to the core without permission from the core director.

Analyses that are in progress will be completed during the week of March 23, during which no additional non-essential COVID-19 related projects will be initiated. All wet lab analyses, with the exception of COVID-19 related research that is officially designated as essential, will be completed by the end of the week of March 23. No employees other than Dr. Lee will be permitted in the Core starting March 23.

As we reduce flow core employee hours and availability, any such work will require the explicit approval of the Core director (Dr. Gregory Buck) and will be on an as-available basis only. Documentation of essential status of the proposed work will be requested. 

Again, samples for any approved work must be provided to core employees, and non-core employees may not enter the flow core.

To promote social distancing, as of March 23, only Dr. Lee will be onsite in the Core at any time. Core hours are subject to change at short notice. Please contact core personnel remotely to coordinate any sample drop-off, etc.

For requests for access to the Core Technology, please contact Dr. Buck. For urgent requests, please call 804-852-4137.

All Core employees will telework and will be available during normal working hours. Published employee office and lab numbers will redirect to their personal devices during conventional business hours. However, all questions about core sequence data or any analysis pipelines should be addressed to Dr. Buck.

Individual questions regarding these policies should be directed towards the core director, Dr. Gregory Buck. Customers are kindly asked to refrain from directing their inquiries elsewhere and core staff have been instructed to forward inquiries to the director.

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VCU CENTER FOR HIGH-PERFORMANCE COMPUTING PLAN OF OPERATION (added 3/20/20)

The VCU Center for High-Performance Computing (CHiPC) will operate with drastically reduced staffing in a manner consistent with the mandated “research ramp-down” and requirement for social distancing. 

To promote social distancing and with the goal of minimizing workplace density, CHiPC will be staffed remotely until further notice.

CHiPC staff will continue to provide all normal CHiPC technical and software support services that do not involve access to computing hardware on an uninterrupted basis through telework.

Remote login access to CHiPC computing clusters will continue. New account creation will remain available through the CHiPC webpage. Please be advised that the continuing ability to log in to CHiPC systems depends on the availability and capacity of VCU’s VPN system. Disruption of the VPN could potentially affect your ability to access CHiPC computers. 

Submit a help desk request for assistance or call 804-828-2227. Once you have logged in, click the “New IT Support Ticket” button, then the “Research” button followed by the “High-Performance Computing.” On that page is a request support button that lets you directly contact CHiPC. Requests submitted in this manner are automatically logged and all CHiPC staff have access.

We urge you to use e-mail to reach CHiPC employees. However, during conventional work hours, core employees’ work telephone numbers will redirect to their phones so they may remain available.

Core employees: Rodney Dyer, Faculty Director, 804-827-6510; J. Mike Davis, Technical Director, 804-828-3885; Carlisle Childress, Systems Analyst, 804-828-3882; Brad Freeman, Systems Analyst, 804-827-0951; and John Layne, Applications Analyst, 804-827-1679.

All planned deliveries and/or installations of new hardware are postponed until further notice.

Onsite staff will engage only in essential instrument maintenance as required. CHiPC customers are requested to limit their face-to-face interactions with staff. 

Individual questions regarding these policies should be directed towards the core director, Rodney Dyer. Customers are kindly asked to refrain from directing their inquiries elsewhere and core employees have been instructed to direct all inquiries to the core director.

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VCU CHEMICAL AND PROTEOMIC MASS SPECTROMETRY CORE FACILITY PLAN OF OPERATION (added 3/20/20)

As of March 23, the VCU Chemical and Proteomic Mass Spectrometry core facility (Proteomics Core) will operate with significantly reduced staffing and availability, consistent with the mandated “research ramp-down” and requirement for social distancing. The core will provide only limited support to only the most essential ongoing research. No new work contemplating use of the core should be initiated.

Only core employees will be allowed into the Proteomics Core rooms as of March 23.

All of shared instrumentation by non-core employees is prohibited until further notice, even if previously scheduled.

As of March 23, the Proteomics Core will not accept new samples until further notice. However, samples that were already submitted will continue to be queued for analysis. New samples would only be accepted under extraordinary circumstances, such as samples directly related to COVID-19.

To promote social distancing, the core will be staffed with irregular hours as March 23. Core staff onsite will not be available for customer interaction and will conduct only essential work and instrument maintenance. Core customers should communicate with core staff through teleconference, email or telephone wherever possible.

 Core employees are: Kristina Nelson, Director, 804-827-9335; and Meera Asokan, 804-828-7445 
During conventional work hours when no employee is onsite, the laboratory telephone numbers, 804-827-9335 and 804-828-7445, will redirect to an employee’s personal phone.

If you need data from already completed work sent to you for further analysis, please contact the core director

The Proteomics Core will continue to provide data analysis services on an interrupted basis through telework. This is the only core service that will not be limited during the shutdown.

Please direct questions regarding these policies to core director Kristina Nelson. Customers are kindly asked to refrain from directing their inquiries elsewhere and employees have been instructed to forward all inquiries to the core director.

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VCU MICROSCOPY CORE PLAN OF OPERATION (added 3/20/20)

As of March 23, the VCU Microscopy core will be operating with significantly reduced staffing and availability in a manner consistent with the mandated “research ramp-down” and requirement for social distancing. The core will only be providing limited support only for the most essential ongoing research. No new work contemplating use of the core should be initiated.

Only core employees will be allowed into the Microscopy Core rooms as of March 23.

All use of shared instrumentation by non-core employees is prohibited until further notice, even if previously scheduled. All reservations on walk-up microscopes and equipment are no longer valid and have been deleted. Future exceptions to this rule will be made only for directly COVID-19 virus related research.

Sample preparation services: Samples (e.g. for EM workflows) already submitted prior to March 23 will continue to be queued and prepared. However, availability of core staff will be constrained. New samples will only be accepted under extraordinary circumstances, such as being directly COVID-19 virus related or officially designated as essential. Documentation of essential status of the proposed work may be requested.

Technician assisted use: As of March 23, microscopes and instruments that are normally walk-up may be run instead by an employee of the microscopy core; however, any such work must be COVID-related or officially designated as essential. Requests for routine non-essential use will be declined. As microscopy core employee hours and availability are being significantly reduced, any such work will additionally require the explicit approval of the core director and will be on an as-available basis only. Documentation of essential status of the proposed work may be requested. Cell samples may be provided to core staff. While customers will not be permitted to accompany staff in the microscope rooms, staff may communicate remotely with customers while work is in progress (such as through Zoom) to ensure that the correct morphological features are being imaged.

Image Analysis and consultative services: The microscopy core will continue to provide image data analysis and consultative services through telework. This is the only core service that will not be limited during the shutdown.

To promote social distancing and to reduce laboratory density, as of March 23, the core will be minimally staffed with not more than one employee present. The primary responsibility for employees who are onsite will be instrument maintenance and officially designated essential work. Core customers are encouraged to communicate with core staff through teleconference, email, or telephone wherever possible. Staffing hours are subject to change, and customers should coordinate and unavoidable direct contact beforehand by telephone or email.

When a teleworking employee is not present the core, teleworking staff will make themselves available during conventional work hours. Core laboratory telephone numbers will redirect to an employee’s personal phone.

Core employees are: Tytus Bernas, director, 804-245-3156; Judy Williamson, 804-873-1701; Frances White, 804-366-0788; and Terry Smith, 804-240-6791.

Questions regarding these policies should be directed towards core director Tytus Bernas. Customers are kindly asked to refrain from directing their inquiries elsewhere and core employees have been instructed to direct all inquiries to the core director.

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VCU NANOMATERIALS CHARACTERIZATION CORE PLAN OF OPERATION (added 3/20/20)

As of March 23, the VCU Nanomaterials Characterization Core (NCC) will operate with significantly reduced staffing and availability, consistent with the mandated “research ramp-down” and requirement for social distancing. The core will provide only limited support only for the most essential ongoing research. No new work contemplating use of the core should be initiated.

Only core employees will be allowed into the NCC rooms as of March 23.

As a result, all use of walk-up or shared instrumentation by non-core employees is prohibited until further notice, even if previously scheduled. All reservations on walk-up instruments and equipment are no longer valid and have been deleted. Future exceptions to this rule will be made only for directly COVID-19 virus related research.

Technician assisted use: As of March 23, NCC instruments that are normally walk-up may be run instead by an employee of the NCC. However, any such work must be COVID-related or officially designated as essential. Requests for routine non-essential use will be declined. As NCC core employee hours and availability are being significantly reduced, any such work will also require the explicit approval of the core director and will be on an as-available basis only. Documentation of essential status of the proposed work may be requested. While customers will not be permitted to accompany staff in the instrument rooms, staff may communicate remotely with customers while work is in progress (such as Zoom) to ensure that the correct morphological features are being imaged.

  • Analysis and consultative services: The NCC will continue to provide data analysis and consultative services through telework. This is the only core service that will not be limited during the shutdown.
  • Installation of new hardware:  Installation of new equipment and hardware is halted until further notice. Deliveries of already ordered hardware may need to be deferred or redirected to a loading dock area for temporary storage. 
  • To promote social distancing and to reduce laboratory density, as of March 23, the core will be minimally staffed with not more than one employee present at any one time except in case of emergencies (such as power failure). The primary responsibility of onsite core employees will be instrument maintenance and officially designated essential work. Core customers are encouraged to communicate with core staff through teleconference, email, or telephone wherever possible. Staffing hours are subject to change, and customers should coordinate any unavoidable direct contact beforehand by telephone or email.
  • When a teleworking employee is not present the core, teleworking staff will remain available during conventional work hours. Core laboratory telephone numbers will redirect to an employee’s personal phone.
  • Core employee contacts are: Massimo Bertino, 804-827-7020; Dmitry Pestov, 804-828-2143; and Carl Mayer, 804-828-2143

Questions regarding these policies should be directed towards core director Massimo Bertino. Customers are kindly asked to refrain from directing their inquiries elsewhere and NCC employees have been instructed to forward all inquiries to the director.

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VCU TRANSGENIC AND KNOCKOUT MOUSE CORE PLAN OF OPERATION (added 3/20/20)

As of March 23, the VCU TG-KO core will operate with significantly reduced staffing and availability consistent with the university’s mandated “research ramp-down” and requirement for social distancing. The core will provide only limited support only for the most essential ongoing research. No new work contemplating use of the core should be initiated.

Effective immediately, the TG-KO will not initiate wet laboratory or animal breeding work for any new genetically engineered mouse model (GEMM) project that is not already underway. No new breeding colonies will be established until further notice. For any work that requires a physical presence in the laboratory, only COVID-19 related work, essential ongoing work, or work required specifically to mitigate issues with maintaining extant breeding colonies will be undertaken (for example, sperm cryopreservation).

Dry lab activities of the TG-KO such as initial project planning, devising strategies for GEMM creation or genotyping will continue uninterrupted as telework.

Breeding Colonies: Only essential work necessary for maintenance of breeding colonies and basic animal husbandry will be carried out. In keeping with the policies mandated by the ACUP and the OVPRI, the TG-KO is discontinuing breeding in all production colonies designed to produce experimental animals. Only breeding required to maintain lines of mice or safeguard newly-established lines will be carried out. Jolene Windle is communicating with all investigators using the TG-KO Colony Management service to discuss specific plans for each line.

Screening of founders from ongoing projects: As it is considered an essential activity, screening will continue for new mouse lines from ongoing projects, including genotyping of new potential founder mice as well as the first-generation offspring for each that will continue to be born and weaned over the next few weeks. These represent extremely high-priority lines for which breeding and genotyping cannot be postponed owing to the risk of losing the line entirely.

Sperm Cryopreservation: Sperm cryopreservation explicitly for mitigation of issues surrounding breeding colony maintenance is considered an essential activity and will continue.

Mouse line rederivation: rederivation by in vitro fertilization services will only be provided for mouse lines which are already in the process of importation and for which immediate rederivation is essential to their preservation.  

To promote social distancing, as of March 23, the core will be staffed irregular hours, with the goal of minimizing lab density. When physically present in the core or vivarium, staff will engage only in essential work, colony management and instrument maintenance as required. Core customers are requested to limit their face-to-face interactions with staff, and should communicate by teleconference, email or telephone wherever possible.

Core staff are: Jolene Windle, Ph.D., director; Mark Subler, Ph.D., manager of molecular services; Gregory Campbell, core manager; Pamela Watters, breeding colony manager
E-mail is the preferred method for reaching TG-KO staff. However, during conventional work hours when teleworking employees are not present in the core, their work telephone numbers will redirect to their personal phone and they will be available during conventional business hours.

Questions regarding these policies should be directed towards core director, Jolene Windle, Ph.D. Customers are kindly asked to refrain from directing their inquiries elsewhere and flow core employees have been instructed to direct all inquiries to the director.

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VCU LIPIDOMICS AND METABOLOMICS CORE PLAN OF OPERATION (added 3/19/20)

Starting March 23, the VCU Lipidomics and Metabolomics core will operate with significantly reduced staffing and availability, consistent with the mandated “research ramp-down” and requirement for social distancing. The core will only provide limited support only for the most essential ongoing research. No new work contemplating use of the core should be initiated.

Only core employees will be allowed into the Lipidomics Core rooms as of March 23.

As a result, all use of shared instrumentation by non-flow core employees is prohibited until further notice, even if previously scheduled.

The Lipidomics and Metabolomics Core Laboratory stopped accepting new samples on March 18 until further notice. However, samples that were already submitted will continue to be queued for analysis.  New samples would only be accepted under extraordinary circumstances, such as being directly COVID-19 related.

To promote social distancing, as of March 23, the core will be staffed with irregular hours by core manager Jeremy Allegood. However, he will not be available for customer interaction onsite and will conduct only essential work and instrument maintenance. Core customers should communicate with core staff through email or telephone wherever possible.

Employees are: Director Ashley Cowart, Jeremy Allegood and Maria Kubick.

During conventional work hours when no employee is present the core, the laboratory telephone numbers (804-628-4516 and 804-827-9909|Allegood office) will redirect to an employee’s personal phone.

If you need data from already completed work sent to you for further analysis, please direct your requests to Ashley Cowart or Jeremy Allegood.

When staff are not in the office, employees will telework and will be available during conventional business hours. The Lipidomics core will continue to provide data analysis services on an interrupted basis through telework. This is the only core service that will not be limited during the shutdown.

Individual questions regarding these policies should be directed towards core director Ashley Cowart. Customers are kindly asked to refrain from directing their inquiries elsewhere and flow core employees have been instructed to direct all inquiries to the core director.

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VCU CANCER MOUSE MODELS CORE PLAN OF OPERATION (added 3/19/20)

As of March 23, the VCU Cancer Mouse Models core will operate with significantly reduced staffing and availability, consistent with the mandated “research ramp-down” and requirement for social distancing. The core will provide only limited support for only the most essential ongoing research. No new work contemplating use of the core should be initiated.

Only core employees may enter CMMC rooms as of March 23.

As a result, all use of shared instrumentation by non-flow core employees is prohibited until further notice, even if previously scheduled. All reservations on walk-up equipment are no longer valid and have been deleted.

Animal studies: Core employees Bin Hu and Madhavi Puchalapalli will carry out previously initiated and ongoing animal studies only. No new animal studies will be started until further notice.

CMMC Histology services: Any such work that is not already initiated (samples submitted to the core prior to March 23) must be COVID-related or officially designated as an essential research activity. As CMMC employee hours and availability are significantly reduced, any such work will require the explicit approval of the core director on an as-available basis only. Documentation of essential status of the proposed work may be requested. Sample drop off will be allowed the following days/time:  

  • Monday, Tuesday, Thursday and Friday: 9 a.m.-5 p.m.
  • Wednesday: 9 a.m.-2 p.m.

All samples must be dropped off outside the core. Please place samples in the bucket outside MCC 1-112. Label your samples in pencil or an ethanol resistant pen so that we may disinfect the outside of the tubes with 70% ethanol.

Paper forms will no longer be accepted. Please submit all orders electronically by emailing the submission form to masseymouse@vcu.edu.

Order submissions will be reviewed to ensure that they correspond to COVID-related or officially designated essential research activities only. Submission of an order form does not guarantee that services will be provided. If you need to discuss your orders please contact the following via text or call:

To promote social distancing, as of March 23, only one employee will be present in the core at a time. Pam Gigliotti will be in the core Monday and Tuesday with help from Chau on Wednesday. All samples will be processed and embedded on these days. Vita Kraskauskiene will be in the core on Thursday and Friday, when IHC, IF, ISH and imaging will be performed.

All core employees will telework when they are not physically present in the core and will be available during conventional business hours. Please feel free to contact them for any questions or help that they can provide remotely at those times.

Individual questions regarding these policies should be directed towards core director Jennifer Koblinski, 312-618-8010. Customers are kindly asked to refrain from directing their inquiries elsewhere and employees have been instructed to direct all inquiries to the core director.

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VCU FLOW CYTOMETRY CORE PLAN OF OPERATION (added 3/19/20)

As of March 23, the VCU Flow Cytometry core will operate with significantly reduced staffing and availability in a manner consistent with the mandated “research ramp-down” and requirement for social distancing. The core will only provide limited support only for the most essential ongoing research. No new work contemplating use of the core should be initiated.

Non-Flow Core employees will not be allowed into the Flow Core rooms as of March 23. 

As a result, all use of shared instrumentation by non-flow core employees is prohibited until further notice, even if previously scheduled. All reservations on walk-up equipment are no longer valid and have been deleted. Affected instrumentation includes the ImageStream, Canto, Fortessa, and the Reichert SPR.

No new reservations will be accepted for sorting or employee assisted use in the Flow Core during the shutdown.

Existing employee-assisted sorting reservations for the week of March 23 may be honored. However, the flow core director will co-ordinate with PIs to discuss the individual sorts to assess if they meet the essential research qualification. Samples for approved work must be dropped at the door for the flow core and no one will be allowed to enter except core personnel.

As of March 23, instruments that are normally walk-up may be run instead by an employee of the flow core. However, any such work must be COVID-related or has been officially designated as essential. As we reduce flow core employee hours and availability, any such work will require the explicit approval of the flow core director and will be on an as-available basis only. Documentation of essential status of the proposed work may be requested. Again, samples for any approved work must be provided to flow core employees, and non-core employees may not enter the flow core.

To promote social distancing, as of March 23, only one employee will be present in the core at a time. Coverage in the core will alternate days between Rebecca Martin and Julie Farnsworth. Core hours are subject to change at short notice. Please contact core personnel remotely to coordinate any sample drop-off, etc. 

During conventional work hours when no employee is present the core, the laboratory telephone, 804-828-9586 will redirect to an employee’s personal phone.

If you need FlowJo for analysis while teleworking, and you have a dongle purchased for your lab, FlowJo is providing a temporary license, you can make a request. If you did not purchase a license from the Flow core, you can get it under a free 30-day trial of FlowJo. There are many videos from FlowJo that can help you analyze data. Because we have a site license, we get free data assistance from the company. Please use this feature if you have purchased a license. 
Christian.Aguilera-Sandoval@bd.com is the Flowjo application scientist for our region.

If you need data from already completed work sent to you for further analysis, please direct any such requests to core director Rebecca Martin.

When the staff are not in the office, employees will telework and will be available during normal business hours. If you need data analysis done, the Flow Core can provide this service as part of telework.This is the only core service that will not be limited during the shutdown.

Individual questions regarding these policies should be directed towards core director Rebecca Martin. Customers are kindly asked to refrain from directing their inquiries elsewhere and flow core employees have been instructed to direct all inquiries to Dr. Martin.

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VCU SUPPLY CENTERS PLAN OF OPERATION (added 3/19/20)

As of March 23, the Massey Supply and the Molecular Biology Supply Center in Sanger Hall will operate Monday – Friday, noon-4 p.m., with reduced staffing. The Life Sciences Supply Center in the Trani building is closed until further notice. Customers have been additionally notified via email regarding curtailed hours, in addition to the temporary hours posted at each location.

The supply centers will place and receive orders only for items required for essential ongoing research. Orders will not be placed for routine non-essential research requirements. Liquid nitrogen and dry ice should remain available during these hours. We will notify customers of any anticipated supply chain disruptions. As the situation evolves, customers may be required to provide documentation of essential status, although liquid nitrogen for maintaining frozen cell cultures will remain available to all.

The staff will alternate days at the two locations with only one person at a time staffing each office. Jeff Croscutt and Steven Tisdol will alternate at the Massey Supply, while Chris Flowers and Brian Schuler alternate at the MBSC. Note that regular office phones will be forwarded to employee cell phones and emails will be checked regularly to maintain service.

Contact information is as follows:

  • Massey Supply Center: masseysupply@vcu.edu – 804-828-1480 (Jeff Croscutt and Steven Tisdol)
  • Molecular Biology Supply Center: mbsupply@vcu.edu – 804-828-4213 / 804-828-3087 (Chris Flowers and Brian Schuler)

When the staff are not in the office, employees will telework and will be available during normal business hours.

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If you have any questions, please contact Paul Fawcett, Ph.D., Director of Research Infrastructure, pfawcett@vcu.edu


OSP expects to continue to submit proposals even if staff work remotely. All new grant applications should utilize the normal RAMS-SPOT review/submission process. Federal agencies are aware of current challenges and we will share additional guidance as it becomes available.

Principal investigators are expected to continue to submit timely annual and final reports in the event of an emergency university closure, which includes work-from-home provisions. Institutional reports (non-financial) will continue to be processed and submitted by OSP staff.

If, as the PI of a grant, you anticipate that your grant deliverables will be delayed by offsite work, please contact your program officer immediately to let them know of your work plan adjustments and copy (cc) your OSP Team on the email communication. Additionally, please prepare a brief explanation of the delay for your next progress report. The explanation should outline the alternative work completed and your plan for accomplishing the original deliverables.

The Council on Governmental Relations provides researchers with its assessment at www.cogr.edu/faqs-regarding-covid-19s-impact-federal-awards

Current guidance from sponsoring agencies (updated 4/8/20)


NIH

NSF (updated 3/27/20)

Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (added 3/31/20)

Air Force Office of Scientific Research (added 3/31/20)

Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (added 3/23/20)

Department of Defense (updated 4/8/20)

Department of Education (added 4/8/20)

Department of Energy

Department of Justice

Food and Drug Administration (added 3/31/20)

Institute of Museum and Library Services (added 4/8/20)

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

National Endowment for the Arts (added 4/8/20)

National Endowment for the Humanities

Office of Management and Budget

United States Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity (added 4/8/20)

Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services

Please review your funder’s guidance if your project is being impacted by COVID-19. Please contact your OSP team for more guidance and to initiate any necessary sponsor notifications or requests. (updated 3/17/20)

 

VCU researchers are encouraged to consider potential funding opportunities for research related to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among the many sources of information for external funding are:

The OVPRI Finding Funding page provides an overview of resources available to VCU researchers.

Grants.gov provides notices of funding opportunities from VCU’s major federal funding partners, including the National Institutes of Health and the National Cancer Institute, as well as the National Science Foundation, NASA, the Department of Defense, and other federal agencies. Use “COVID-19,” “coronavirus” or other related terms for your search.

Pivot combines the most comprehensive, editorially maintained database of funding opportunities worth an estimated $74 billion. Its algorithm also compiles pre-populated researcher profiles unique to VCU, and others, and matches them to current funding opportunities in the database. This allows users to search for a funding opportunity and instantly view matching faculty from inside or outside VCU. Conversely, a search for a scholar will link to matching funding opportunities. Use of a VCU.edu email address is required to access Pivot.

Please also review the section on the Office of Sponsored Funding for additional information related to funding from the NIH and NSF.


  • Projects related to COVID-19 will be prioritized.

  • Export controlled or controlled, unclassified information (CUI) projects cannot be handled remotely; affected researchers will be contacted by OVPRI staff.
  • If you have any questions, please contact Quinton Johnson, Director, Export Compliance, qjohnson3@vcu.edu

OVPRI IT will be in office to respond to technical difficulties.

Innovation Gateway

  • Operations will continue if staff must work remotely

  • Meetings may be rescheduled or held remotely

  • Senior Executive Director Ivelina Metcheva will handle document signing

VCU Ventures

Staff are prepared to work remotely to continue operations

 

Laboratory Hibernation/Ramp-down Template (updated 3/18/20)

If you have any questions, please contact:

  • John Ryan, Ph.D., Associate Vice President for Research Development, jjryan@vcu.edu

  • Susan Robb, Senior Associate Vice President for Research Compliance, sarobb@vcu.edu


Human subject research activities

  • IRB approval or submission, the HRPP: ORSP@vcu.edu, 804-828-0868

  • VCU IRB Coordinators (assigned in RAMS-IRB)

  • Clinical research program: Lisa Ballance, Executive Director for Clinical Research and Compliance, lballanc@vcu.edu

Animal care and research activities

  • IACUC@vcu.edu, 804-828-6587

  • Urgent animal welfare issues: immediately contact a staff veterinarian on call, 804-840-5085

Core facilities

Office of Sponsored Programs

  • Contact your regular team partner, 804-828-6772

Export compliance

Compliance issues

  • Susan Robb, Senior Associate Vice President for Research Compliance, sarobb@vcu.edu

Laboratory ramping down/shutdown

  • John Ryan, Ph.D., Associate Vice President for Research Development, jjryan@vcu.edu

  • Susan Robb, Senior Associate Vice President for Research Compliance, sarobb@vcu.edu