March 20, 2020 - 5:30pm

CORONAVIRUS UPDATE 30 Office of the Vice Chancellor for Research and Creative Activities

Most Campus Laboratory Research to Shut Down

To the Campus Community:

I appreciate your efforts to develop strategies for ramping down on-campus research activities following my March 17 communication.

In light of Los Angeles County’s safer at home order, UCLA has determined that these ramp-down strategies must be fully deployed by Monday. Please know that buildings will be locked at 10 p.m. tonight and remain locked on Monday, so please check with your department if you require special arrangements to enter your building. Effective at 11:59 p.m. tonight, all on-campus operations will be suspended, with the exception of those that are essential and cannot be conducted remotely.

Effective immediately, all group meetings, courses and scientific convocations are to transition to virtual environments — for example, Zoom, Slack or another approved, secure platform.

Research performed on campus

If you have not already done so, please obtain approval for any essential experiments and essential research personnel you believe must remain active on campus during this time. To minimize community interactions, each lab is to activate no more than one or two essential research personnel to manage animal husbandry, equipment or essential experiments. To ensure the safety of essential research personnel, labs should establish a communication protocol and use it while personnel are working on campus.

Some units, including the David Geffen School of Medicine, Samueli School of Engineering and the UCLA College Divisions of Life Sciences and Physical Sciences, have developed internal processes and deadlines for researchers to obtain approval for personnel and experiments. Those units will communicate directly with researchers under their purview. All other requests are to be submitted to me via [email protected]. Requests to continue research activities must include a full description of why the on-campus research is essential, a timeline for completion and documented support of the department chair or dean; essential personnel should also be identified in each request. All on-campus projects and personnel not approved to continue research activities or that do not have a pending request to their unit filed are required to cease operations.

As previously communicated, essential research personnel are those individuals who are:

  1. Necessary to ensure the ongoing viability of research, including the well-being of research animals. This includes vivarium lab staff and non-vivarium lab staff responsible for animal care, although staffing should be minimized to the extent feasible to maintain the health and safety of the animals.

  2. Necessary to ensure the ongoing viability of research that includes not easily replaceable, perishable research materials.

  3. Responsible for the maintenance of equipment that, if not done, could result in damage to equipment or extraordinary cost — for example, cryogen fill on NMR spectrometers.

  4. Researchers working on experiments that have a small window for completion — for example, research that relies on the ability to make specific measurements only a few times a year.

As a reminder, note that students, including graduate students, cannot be mandated to serve as essential personnel.

Essential experiments are those for which suspension of on-campus activities would cause irreparable harm to the research project. This will usually involve ongoing animal experiments that required enormous time and cost to get to their current state, and that will be completed in the near future. UCLA has also made a commitment to prioritizing COVID-19 research. Requests for continuation of such projects must be described in writing as indicated above.

In animal facilities, all animal orders, imports/exports and internal transfers will be put on hold and rodent breeding reduced to the minimum possible. Please contact UCLA’s Division of Laboratory Animal Medicine for guidance on identifying unique and irreplaceable animals. Study areas maintaining aquatic, avian or other species are expected to maintain basic animal care and husbandry operations, and labs with USDA-covered animals that require specialized lab care or intensive husbandry operations are expected to continue providing this care as well.

Environment, Health & Safety (EH&S) staff are available for safety consultations related to ramping down your on-campus research activities. Contact [email protected] for support. In the event of a lab emergency, researchers should immediately call 911 rather than the EH&S hotline or email contacts.

Clinical research activities

With respect to clinical research, in-person research visits should not be conducted unless the specific research visit provides an immediate benefit to a participant’s health and/or well-being, or the visit is part of the course of ongoing clinical care. (Note: Policies for routine and elective visits are also undergoing review by UCLA Health.)

Please consider suspending recruitment or conducting follow-up visits remotely, if this presents no harm to your participants. Please also be certain to personally inform participants of the risks of COVID-19. Visit UCLA CTSI Research Go and the Office of the Human Research Protection Program website for detailed information about UCLA’s COVID-19 clinical research policy and human subjects research.

Off-campus research activities

Research activities that can be performed remotely and do not require physical interaction with human subjects (for example, field studies, surveys, record reviews and data analysis) can and should continue. As a reminder, the University of California Office of the President has stated that under no circumstances are researchers to take materials — other than lab notebooks, laptops and data storage devices — off-site, including to their homes. Notebooks taken off campus must be inventoried and tracked to protect university property while off-site.

While it is not possible to predict how long we will remain in this new state of ramped-down activities, you should plan for the possibility that this could continue through the end of the quarter or longer. I will continue to communicate with you regularly as I receive new information. Thank you for being True Bruins and exemplary members of our community.

Please direct questions to [email protected].

Sincerely,

Roger Wakimoto

Vice Chancellor for Research and Creative Activities