The following proactive actions should be considered to minimize research disruption due to the potential for a COVID-19 pandemic to considerably affect research efforts at Johns Hopkins University. Please review and implement the steps below – with further details here – in order to minimize any disruption to research programs.

  1. Consider in detail the supply chains for your line of work.
    • Take stock of your inventory and pre-order reagents and supplies that have long shelf lives. Maintain a sufficient inventory of critical lab and safety supplies that may be impacted by global shipping delays.
    • Plan for delays or loss of vendor support over an extended period of time such as gas or dry ice deliveries, chemical or biological waste removal, etc.
    • Maintain frequent communication with collaborators with whom you have dependencies for materials, components of the research, or data.
  2. Cull unnecessary items from your -80, -20 and lqN2 storage locations NOW—this is critical in order to ensure that there is space for transfer/storage of reagents and samples if an emergency were to arise.
    • In a crisis, it may be necessary to move perishable materials owing to lack of regular liquid N2 deliveries, or power issues that affect -20 and -80 freezers.
  3. Establish a robust communication network for your research group.
    • All laboratory and research group directories must be up to date, with current cell phone numbers and email addresses. Groups should develop a communications plan involving email and phone/test messaging in order for rapid and comprehensive information dissemination. Essential Personnel must have the ability to contact members of the group so they can obtain instruction regarding all laboratory issues that may arise and that may be outside of their own individual experiments.
    • See more on our Remote Access page.
  4. Develop a clear and well-outlined plan for acute shutdown of laboratory functions.
    • If the institution is shut down for any period of time it is critical to consider the acute effects this will have and the specific tasks that must be completed. These include efforts to: preserve research projects and critical reagents (see RAR special Memo which summarizes animal issues), protect sensitive equipment, ensure safety of the unattended laboratory, preserve data integrity, among others. This plan will be different for each laboratory, but it should be developed and scrutinized by all members of the group to ensure covers all essential equipment and laboratory research activities.
    • Considerations:
      • Identify procedures and processes that require regular personnel attention (e.g. cell culture maintenance, animal studies) and identify projects that should not be started.
      • Identify any research experiments that can be ramped down, curtailed, suspended or delayed.
      • Identify all personnel able to safely perform essential activities.
      • Cross-train research staff to fill in for others who may be out sick or unable to come to work. Consider documenting either via video or written documentation critical step-by-step instructions.
      • Coordinate with colleagues who have similar research activities to identify ways to ensure coverage of critical activities or sharing of personnel.
      • Preserve critical/irreplaceable samples such as cell lines or mouse lines.
      • Arrange for removal of chemical or biological waste prior to staff reductions.
    • Review contingency plans and emergency procedures with researchers and staff.
    • It is also important for all lab members to prepare in case disruption of work is prolonged where there is not easy access to the laboratory that they have the necessary digital infrastructure in place at home to be able to remain productive. See more on our remote access page.
  5. Develop a plan for non-murine model organisms, both for ongoing experiments and for the longer term.
    • It is important for each individual research entity to consider the requirements for maintaining their non-murine, non-primate models if daily care and maintenance were not possible. As appropriate, please communicate with Research Animal Resources (RAR) regarding support for your non-murine model organisms; town halls and additional communications from RAR are being planned.
  6. Designate 1 to 2 essential personnel within each research group.
    • In the event of a university shut down, it will be important that individuals from each research group be designated as essential personnel so that if limited access to the University is mandated, you have in place the personnel to minimize damage and disruption to the overall research program.
    • These individuals should be prepared to perform for the group: laboratory functions relating to reagent preservation, continuation of long-term experiments, monitoring of essential reagent storage equipment, monitoring of sensitive equipment, human subjects issues, and other relevant tasks. This person should have access to all facets of the research group’s work (i.e. animal access if needed, key card access to all laboratory rooms, etc.).
    • The essential personnel designation must be formalized by Human Resources in accordance with their policies for essential personnel and in consultation with the lab head and Department, and additional information about how to accomplish this will be forthcoming from each school where this is necessary.
  7. Consider Impact on Studies Involving Human Participants.
    • In the event of a complete or partial university shutdown, disruptions could occur in planned visits with research participants enrolled in research studies. It is imperative that we ensure the safety of our research participants and carefully consider whether any interruption in study visits and access to study drug supply could pose a risk to human participant safety.
    • Please work carefully with the Investigational Drug Service, IRB and any external partners to develop contingencies plans as applicable. Teams should also make plans to utilize telephone and electronic communication with research participants as much as possible to keep research protocols on track.
    • See the Human Research Subjects page for more details.

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