Indiana University Bloomington Indiana University Bloomington IU Bloomington

COVID-19 Guidance for IU Researchers


Essential Research Guidance: March 23, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

In an effort to protect the health and safety of the university community and of our state, and to comply fully with the Governor’s executive order issued today, all in-person research activities on IU campuses will be limited to Essential Research Activities.

Essential Research Activities may be continued, provided that they can otherwise comply with university policies, IACUC and IRB protocols, state law, and CDC guidelines.

To qualify for the Essential Research Activities exemption, the PI or his or her designee must complete a brief Essential Research Activities online form available on the research.iu.edu/coronavirus web page. (This form will be available on March 24, 2020). This will allow you to provide you with the necessary documentation to travel and enter IU buildings, should these be needed.

“Essential Research Activities” are defined for this purpose as comprising two categories:

Essential Research Activities

  1. Essential Research
    • • Work that directly relates to preventing, containing, or treating the COVID-19 pandemic
    • • Clinical trials and other research that if discontinued would have a significant negative impact on human health or patient care
    • • Work that directly relates to national security
    • • Agricultural research with critical implications for human and animal health or food security
    • • Activity that if discontinued would pose a safety hazard
    • • Laboratory or field work where discontinuation would result in loss of significant data and samples
    • • Longitudinal or seasonal work where discontinuation would result in loss of significant data or samples
  2. Essential Support Activities for Research
    • • Work to maintain critical equipment, whether in stand-by mode or operational
    • • Work to maintain critical plant populations, tissue cultures, bacteria, archaea, animal populations, and other living organisms
    • • Research administration, compliance, and other support functions required by law

Other Research Activities
Research labs and other research facilities should begin immediately the orderly hibernation of non-essential research activities that require labs and other campus facilities. This wind-down must be completed by March 27, 2020.

Research activities that can be continued entirely remotely are not affected by this guidance and are strongly encouraged. Many research and scholarly activities can be continued remotely and supported by regular electronic and virtual contact with research groups. Alternate approaches for research personnel working remotely might include data analysis, manuscript preparation and review, presentation preparation, proposal development, grant report preparation, and online discussions with students and lab staff.

Do not remove university chemicals, equipment, or animals in an attempt to recreate your labs at off-site locations.

Veterinary and other lab animal care staff have prepared guidance concerning the orderly hibernation of research involving animals; researchers are encouraged to reach out to these colleagues directly for further guidance and help. Care of research animals will continue and researchers are reminded that they remain subject to their IACUC-approved (and, where applicable, IRB-approved) protocols.

Research administration staff have prepared guidance on grant-related issues raised by the hibernation of non-essential research activities that may be funded by federal or other grants. Researchers are also encouraged to reach out to these colleagues directly for further guidance and help.

Campuses and schools may have additional guidance that you are encouraged to consult.

Exceptions to this guidance require the written approval of the Vice President for Research. Requests for exceptions should be directed to vpr@iu.edu. The guidance documents referred to above and other information are available on the research.iu.edu website.

Researchers should comply with this guidance as soon as possible, but in no event later than Friday, March 27, 2020. This guidance will remain in effect until Friday, May 15, 2020.,/strong> It will be reviewed regularly and, if possible, will be lifted or amended before then, or, if necessary, may have to be extended beyond that date.

I deeply regret that we have had to take this action, and I hope that the combination of a broad definition of “Essential Research Activities” and our ability to conduct some research remotely will allow us to be able to continue as much research as possible. IU and Purdue are among the last two universities in the Big 10 to take this step, but with the continuing spread of coronavirus and the Governor’s executive order, both universities are issuing similar guidance. It is our hope that a consistent approach within each university and across both universities at the same time will facilitate as much clarity and consistency as is possible in the current situation, as well as help to support our collaborative research activities.

Thank you for your cooperation and please don’t hesitate to let me know if you have any questions.

Fred H. Cate
Vice President for Research
Distinguished Professor and C. Ben Dutton Professor of Law


Further COVID-19 Guidance for IU Researchers: March 18, 2020

Dear Colleagues,

A great deal has happened in the five days since my last email to IU researchers. While the situation continues to evolve and further changes seem likely, there is growing consensus that the coronavirus is not going away anytime soon, so we should think of our response as a marathon, not a sprint.

As was the case last week, while classes have been moved to distance learning, IU campuses and research facilities remain open, and this is still the case with all research administration and compliance offices as well. Many of our colleagues are working from home so you may find some doors locked, but we are all accessible by email and Zoom, and life at IU is continuing.

Most importantly, research is continuing whenever possible. It is vital that it continue to do so, whenever that research can be conducted consistent with university policies and CDC-recommended practices. For most of our research, this is comparatively straightforward, but there are some areas that present special considerations.

Research involving human subjects is continuing and is likely to prove critical to developing a better understanding of coronavirus and to identifying a vaccine to prevent its spread. The Human Subjects Office will be providing specific guidance as needed, and schools may supplement this as well. We anticipate that most human subjects research should continue provided that other university policies and CDC guidelines can be followed (e.g., social distancing, use of appropriate protective gear, etc.).

Research involving animals is also continuing and will also play a critical role in the global response to coronavirus. Our colleagues responsible for animal safety will also be providing more guidance as needed, but they have also been busily working to develop back-up and contingency plans to help ensure the welfare of our animals and the safety of the people who work with them. Research involving animals, like all other research, will be permitted to the extent other university policies and CDC guidelines can be followed.

All researchers should follow university policies and CDC guidelines and take advantage of Zoom and other technologies to reduce in-person contact when possible. Research personnel, like everyone at IU, should be highly sensitive to the need to self-quarantine at the first sign of flu-like symptoms or if someone with whom you are in close contact develops those symptoms. We are asking all PIs to develop practical plans for restricting or shutting down research studies on short notice, should that be necessary.

Additional information and links to research-related guidance are available on our COVID-19 research web page. Information on other IU coronavirus policies and responses is available at Coronavirus COVID-19.

Many students participate in research at IU. Because the university has ended in-person classes for the rest of the spring semester and closed most of our dorms, we expect that undergraduates will be returning to their homes and will not be available to participate in research, unless they can do so remotely. In the unusual case in which an undergraduate’s participation is critical to the success of the research, their home is in the vicinity of the research lab, and the student wishes to continue participating in research and can do so at no increased risk to their safety and in compliance with IU policies and CDC guidelines, exceptions will be permitted. However, under no condition may an undergraduate be required or pressured to participate in research activities during this health emergency.

There is more flexibility with regard to graduate students, again, provided that they wish to continue participating in research and can do so at no increased risk to their safety and in compliance with IU policies and CDC guidelines. Again, no student — graduate or undergraduate — may be required or pressured to participate in research labs during this health emergency. Graduate students with student academic appointments should meet with their faculty supervisors and graduate program advisors to discuss options for working locally and remotely. If local work is not possible, options for remote work may be needed to keep being paid in accordance with IU policy. Remote activities can include writing, literature research, analysis of results and data, team meetings, and presentations.

There are many examples of IU research designed to help understand and fight COVID-19 as well as to assess social, cultural, policy, economic, and other impacts of the virus and our responses to it. Some of these are described at our research impact website. This work is critical. IU’s Research Administration and Research Compliance staff stand ready to assist in any way, including speedy review of research proposals requiring IRB or IACUC approval.

There is also new funding from the federal government, industry, and foundations to support this important work. Laura Kolton, who handles research-related government relations in Washington, is working to identify new federal funding opportunities and help match them with interested IU researchers. Vice Provost Jeff Zaleski and Vice Chancellor Janice Blum are helping to coordinate teams of interested researchers on the Bloomington and Indianapolis campuses, respectively, and our Business Partnerships and Foundation Relations teams are doing the same in their areas. Many funders are extending proposal deadlines and grant periods. Our Research Administration, Government Relations, Foundation Relations, and Business Partnerships offices are available to help you navigate this new terrain with our funding partners.

You can find more information about opportunities as they emerge on our COVID-19 research web page. If you are interested in being part of a research team or if you are engaged in research relevant to coronavirus, it would be very helpful if you could send an email to vpr@iu.edu. We will then share it with all of the people helping to facilitate and organize our work in this area. I also welcome your questions or suggestions about research activities in the face of coronavirus at the same address.

Thank you again for your dedication and your patience as we navigate this evolving situation.

Fred H. Cate
Vice President for Research
Distinguished Professor and C. Ben Dutton Professor of Law
vpr@iu.edu