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Resources for 4-Phase Research Ramp-Up

Main Resources

Please note that the following guidance and resources pertain to the full range of Vanderbilt University research activities including arts and humanities, social sciences, engineering, natural sciences, and more.  Guidance for shared research spaces and research activities that are highly regulated regardless of COVID-19 (e.g., activities and spaces governed by environmental health and safety) may be necessarily more detailed.

Resources require VU net ID and password to access.

Many VU researchers use resources from the Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries extensively in their work.  For more information on library access at this time, see the May 22 MyVU story “No quarantine on information at the Heard Libraries” and the Jean and Alexander Heard Libraries website.

Many VU researchers work closely with VUMC researchers or perform research activities in VUMC-operated research spaces.  Plans for VU versus VUMC research ramp-up are related, but different.  For more information, see VU/VUMC Research Activities Guidance.

Additional Resources

The following resources are COVID-19 related, but not necessarily focused on research ramp-up including sponsor guidance related to COVID-19, COVID-19 related funding opportunities, guidance for research activities that are continuing remotely during the COVID-19 pandemic, and more.

As a reminder, if you are carrying out a long-term experiment and if it is feasible to freeze, preserve, or otherwise capture samples or data at specific steps, you might consider doing this more often.

Any researcher who is planning to receive any biological specimens from COVID-19 patients (or any other materials associated with SARS-CoV-2) must file a biological materials registration or amendment with the VU Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC).  The IBC must review and approve the risk assessment and biocontainment plan for the proposed activities before shipment/transfer of these materials is initiated.

(Note: This is not a new requirement but a reminder of the existing requirements for using any potentially infectious materials that have not been previously documented with and approved by the IBC.)

Read step-by-step guidance from Vanderbilt Environmental Health and Safety about how to handle COVID-19 research materials in accordance with the Institutional Biosafety Committee policy.

 

COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 related research endeavors:  Don’t forget biosafety

If PIs are planning to work with COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 associated materials, it is important to have a risk assessment completed in conjunction with VEHS Biosafety before finalizing these plans or submitting a grant proposal.  PIs can initiate this process by completing and submitting a VEHS Biosafety Intake Form for Research with COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 materials.

Additionally, please review the COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 material biosafety action grid to determine actions that will likely apply to your research plans.  If your materials or activities are not specifically addressed in this grid, but are related to research involving COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 materials, please contact Robin Trundy (robin.trundy@vumc.org) or Bettye Ridley (bettye.ridley@vumc.org) of VEHS for assistance.

Important links:

Sponsor agencies are posting and updating specific guidance related to proposal submission and award management. 

Sponsor Guidance provides a daily-updated list of detailed guidance direct from each agency.

Some sponsor guidance concerns award finances.  As a reminder, post-award financial administration is managed through the Office of Contract and Grant Accounting (OCGA), which is not part of Sponsored Programs Administration (SPA) or the Office of the Vice Provost for Research.  For information about post-award financial administration, contact OCGA through the OCGA staff directory.

Some sponsored research projects have a tight schedule, and interruptions related to the COVID-19 pandemic may prevent the schedule from proceeding on time. If this happens to you, please be sure to document instances of your sponsored research project schedule being interrupted for COVID-19 pandemic-related reasons. Documenting the actual impact of the pandemic on the progress of research in real time will help support future requests for No Cost Extensions, invoking force majeure clauses in contracts, etc., if needed. 

View additional guidance from individual sponsors about delays or disruptions related to COVID-19 through our daily-updated Sponsor Guidance.

If your award is a contract requiring deliverables between Sunday, March 15 and Monday, May 18 that will be affected by the pandemic, please contact the SPA contract officer assigned to the specific agreement in the PEER UNIV file, and please reference the UNIV number in the subject line of your email.  The SPA contracts officers are:

If external sponsors reach out directly to you asking for information on the impacts of the pandemic on your sponsored research project, please make sure to contact the Sponsored Programs Administration contract officer assigned to the specific agreement in the PEER UNIV file before responding.  Again, please reference the UNIV number of the contract in question in the subject line of your email.

Congress passed a $2 trillion Phase 3/COVID-19 relief and stimulus package. View specific funding opportunities through Funding for COVID-19 Research, as well as additional guidance and funding information related to COVID-19 in our daily-updated Sponsor Guidance.

You may need to voluntarily halt participant enrollment in a study or make minor protocol deviations. Temporary enrollment holds do not need to be reported to the IRB, however you may need to notify your sponsor via the program officer. Minor protocol deviations could include conducting a study visit virtually (by remote means) or outside of window, omitting a specific research procedure or collecting questionnaire/assessment data over the phone instead of in person.  Minor protocol deviations are reported to the IRB at time of Continuing Review through submission of a Deviation Log. These changes do NOT require prior IRB approval. Learn more on the IRB COVID-19 webpage.

The Animal Care and Use Program is fully operational. They have developed a contingency plan to ensure appropriate animal care should a scenario emerge that results in a significant reduction in workforce and/or limited access to facilities. Please also review Contingency Planning for VUMC Research Labs and Cores.

Research Development and Support (RDS) continues to act as the liaison between VU researchers and IRB (human subjects research) and IACUC (animal subjects research) services provided to VU by VUMC. Contact RDS at rds@vanderbilt.edu.

 

As we prepare to ramp-up research on campus, please review the latest guidance:

Changes are being made to biowaste disposal services for the College of Arts and Science, the School of Engineering, and the School of Medicine – Basic Sciences.  Representatives from each dean’s office have communicated directly with PIs about these changes.  If you have questions about biowaste at your school or college, please contact:

Chemical and radioactive waste disposal continues with the normal request process and frequency through Vanderbilt Environmental Health and Safety (VEHS).  Please contact VEHS directly with questions about chemical and radioactive waste.

EHS services including hazardous waste collection are provided to the VU community by VEHS at VUMC.  Andrea George is the director of Environmental Health and Safety for the university, and acts as VU’s liaison with VEHS.  Contact Andrea George at andrea.george@vanderbilt.edu.

 

COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 related research endeavors:  Don’t forget biosafety

If PIs are planning to work with COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 associated materials, it is important to have a risk assessment completed in conjunction with VEHS Biosafety before finalizing these plans or submitting a grant proposal.  PIs can initiate this process by completing and submitting a VEHS Biosafety Intake Form for Research with COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 materials.

Additionally, please review the COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 material biosafety action grid to determine actions that will likely apply to your research plans.  If your materials or activities are not specifically addressed in this grid, but are related to research involving COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 materials, please contact Robin Trundy (robin.trundy@vumc.org) or Bettye Ridley (bettye.ridley@vumc.org) of VEHS for assistance.

Important links:

Please review VU COVID-19 Related Safety Guidelines for Research Ramp-up for details on appropriate research supplies and how to procure them.

Learn more from Purchasing Services.

VU Global Support Services and VUMC Global Support, two offices outside the Office of the Vice Provost for Research, facilitate employment-related visas for faculty and staff.

 

Guidance from the Graduate School for International Post-Doctoral Fellows:

International post-doctoral fellows whose visas require work that heavily involves on-campus lab operations should contact the appropriate immigration office for the most accurate information regarding the impact of COVID-19 on their visa status.

If you are a VU-employed post-doctoral fellow with an employment-based visa (e.g., H1-B, TN, O-1, E-3) who Is either currently employed or in the process of a postdoc appointment offer and have questions related to immigration and your visa should contact the Office of Employee Immigration Services at ois@vanderbilt.edu.

VU post-doctoral fellows with a J-1 visa should contact International Student and Scholar Services at isss@vanderbilt.edu

All VUMC post-doctoral fellows should contact immigration@vumc.org with questions pertaining to immigration or your visa.  If you are currently working on a J-1 visa and your work authorization expires before June 1, contact your department administrator on how to extend your program.  At this time, nothing has changed with H-1B visas.

For more information about Graduate School guidance for post-doctoral fellows, contact the Graduate School using the Graduate School directory.

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