COVID-19-Updated: 05/27/2020

OVCR Research-Related Updates Regarding COVID-19 Emergency

COVID-19 Specific Response Information

Campus Research Restart

Updated : May 27, 2020

The OVCR Offices of Sponsored Programs (OSP), Research Development Services and Postdoctoral Research, and the Office for the Protection of Research Subjects (OPRS) continue to provide all regular services. Similarly, all other compliance areas (conflict of interest/affiliation, export control, IACUC and IBC, and research integrity) are fully operational. BRL is now considering new projects and smaller orders, depending on the reactivation of services by our external suppliers and BRL staff capacity. We are continuing to work with EHSO to establish a BRL-affiliated BSL3 facility for SARS/COV-2 pathogens in collaboration with the COM and the Department for Microbiology and Immunology for preclinical and translational research that will be available for appropriately trained researchers across campus. RRC laboratory cores will operate at minimal levels to provide ad hoc services for essential research, including COVID-19 projects, anything patient-related, and the completion of long-term projects, especially those involving animals. Core facilities are accepting stored samples that have begun to deteriorate or are approaching expiration, projects for doctoral and postdoctoral trainees moving to their next positions, experiments for manuscript revisions and some ongoing experiments during the time of regular instrument maintenance.  The Research Informatics Core is working at its regular capacity. In addition to completing BioRAFT registration and the COVID-19 Instruction Checklist, RRC cores have begun planning to increase project capacity for those studies that can occur safely in the context of ongoing oversight and maintenance of instrumentation by our staff, those projects not requiring staff effort by previously trained users, and some projects that can occur with appropriate physical distancing by staff.  All questions and requests for BRL and RRC services should continue to be made to the VCR and/or Jeff Fortman for discussion, approval and scheduling.

Eight working groups of faculty representing each College are currently meeting to define the questions and needs for research in different areas including clinical studies, public health and social sciences, community engagement, translational research (including expanded use of animal models, drug discovery and the entrepreneurial pipeline), STEM disciplines, data science, projects in the arts and humanities, and research considerations for junior faculty and trainees. These groups are being facilitated by OVCR and will continue to meet during the next few weeks to consider any topic related to the next steps for all parts of our research portfolio. All groups include junior faculty in order to consider the unique needs of this cohort. Safety protocols will continue to be overseen by EHSO, although EHSO personnel will be reviewing the questions and considerations of each working group in restarting and reactivating research.

As of 5/21/20, OSP has accepted funding for 26 awards related to COVID-19 studies or recovery opportunities, has executed 13 data use, collaborative and non-disclosure agreements, and has 54 COVID-19-related proposals submitted or pending submission. As of 5/21/20, the OPRS has reviewed and approved 22 of 29 COVID-19-Related Protocols. These include five approved clinical trials and a significant number of Registries and secondary analyses. OPRS has reviewed or is in process reviewing 54 amendments and prompt reports AND submissions secondary to COVID-19 aims, and 45 exemptions and determinations (4 are pending review). Our Animal Care Committee (ACC) has received 3 protocol modifications related to COVID-19; our Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) has received 3 new protocols and 4 protocol modifications related to COVID-19 studies.

Latest Update: 05/22/2020 - Information provided on May 18, 2020 remains current

Updated: (May 18, 2020)

The staff of the BRL is in the process of finalizing procedures to re-open animal facilities in a safe and responsible manner to research staff upon the lifting of the Governor’s stay-at-home order. Procedures will include wearing a face mask or face covering in animal facilities, temperature checks (effective June 1st) to enter animal facilities, social distancing through the establishment of occupancy limits for animal and procedural rooms, elevators, air-locks and other support areas, a calendar for scheduling animal and procedure room use (available June 1st), and the establishment of multiple sanitation stations throughout the facilities. More details will be forthcoming.

Besides providing support for research projects already initiated, BRL will now consider placement of animal orders for new and existing essential projects (including BSL2 work) that do not require the use of facilities or resources outside the BRL, such as RRC or hospital core services. Order approval will be for deliveries after June 1st and will be dependent upon order size, commercial vendor availability and BRL staffing levels.  BRL is still not accepting import/export requests from/to other academic institutions. All questions and requests related to animal orders should continue to be made through the VCR or Jeffrey Fortman, Director Biologic Resources Laboratory, (jdf@uic.edu) for review/discussion, approval and subsequent scheduling. Requests should include information on the essential need of the project, protocol number, species, strain and number of animals, and confirmation that core facilities and resources outside the BRL are not required to conduct the study.

At this time, BRL staff are still not conducting facility, BSL2 or chemical room orientations.  New staff will not be able to obtain facility or bio/chemical room access until such training has resumed. Finally, lab visits and monthly hands-on investigator training sessions on animal handling and aseptic technique are on hold until further notice.

Archived Updates

Latest Update: 05/22/2020 - Information provided on March 25, 2020 remains current

Updated FAQs: (March 25, 2020)

  • How should I communicate with OACIB?
    In response to the COVID-19 pandemic and recommended social distancing, OACIB is operating remotely and will continue until further notice. During this time, general questions and concerns, and protocols and protocol modifications should be sent to oacib@uic.edu with the subject line appropriately completed. A member of the OACIB staff will respond to the inquiry and/or acknowledge receipt of the submission. Do not submit questions or documents to a specific employee during this time.
  • Will my submission be reviewed?
    Please note that during this time of remote operation, OACIB will triage submissions in order to accommodate projects with active ongoing animal experiments. The highest priority will be given to protocols undergoing triennial renewal and in “Just in Time” as well as modifications to protocols in which animals are currently being used in an experimental study. New protocols and/or modifications requesting to conduct new experiments will be considered a lower priority as research staff are not to initiate new studies at this time. As a result, protocols and modifications categorized as low priority may experience a delay in the review process compared to previous submissions. The intent, however, will be to review all submissions in as timely a manner as possible during this unprecedented time.

Archived Updates

Latest Update: 05/22/2020 - Information provided on April 7, 2020 remains current

 

COVID-19 Clinical Research Projects (April 7, 2020)

A COVID-19 Research Advisory Committee has been established to help investigators address the operational needs of UI Health and clinical research protocol feasibility during the COVID-19 epidemic. The review committee will assess studies balancing research significance and the potential for immediate clinical benefit, feasibility of completion, potentially competing trials in UI Health settings, and the proposed protocol’s operational feasibility for UI Health (eg, burden on nursing, physicians, PPE, etc) during emergency operations. The COVID Research Advisory Committee will make recommendations to approve, modify or disapprove research protocols to the UI Health Chief Medical Officer, and UI Health Incident Command, who have final authority over research study implementation at UI Health. The rapid COVID-19 Research Advisory Committee review process will start when investigators submit or inquire about submission of COVID-19-related studies for IRB review. IRB review of protocols will be separate but coordinated to maintain rapid reviews. The committee first met April 6th, 2020 and will meet weekly or as needed to facilitate rapid implementation of COVID-19-related interventions. Contact (Acting) Associate Vice Chancellor for Research Jonathan Klein at jonklein@uic.edu for questions.

Latest Update: 05/22/2020 - Information provided on May 18, 2020 remains current

Research Development Services is providing frequent updates on new funding opportunities and announcements related to the COVID-19 pandemic.

Our Limited Opportunities Newsletter and RDS News will continue to be published weekly with general funding announcements.  Please reach out to RDS@uic.edu with any specific questions.

Latest Update: 05/22/2020 - Information provided on May 18, 2020 remains current

Updated: (May 18, 2020)

RRC laboratory cores will continue to operate at minimal levels and provide ad hoc availability for essential research. Currently, essential research includes COVID-19 projects, anything patient-related, and the completion of long-term or ongoing experiments, especially those involving animals. Core facilities are now accepting projects with stored samples that have begun to deteriorate or are approaching expiration, projects for doctoral and postdoctoral trainees moving to their next positions, experiments for manuscript revisions and some ongoing experiments during the time of regular instrument maintenance. The Research Informatics Core is working at its regular capacity.

Planning has begun to increase project capacity for those studies that can occur safely in the context of ongoing oversight and maintenance of instrumentation, projects not requiring staff effort that can be conducted by previously trained and approved users, and some projects that can occur with appropriate physical distancing by staff. All requests for RRC services should continue to be made to the VCR for discussion, approval and scheduling (jgroden@uic.edu).

Archived Updates