HSC Contingency Plans

Dear Colleagues:

This email is a follow up to the EVPRI’s email concerning COVID19 preparedness for the research community. Much of this email contains instructions to prepare our laboratories for the immediate future in case COVID19 causes significant disruptions in daily university operations. Most of the recommendations are for basic research laboratories. I’m asking departmental chairs and center directors to communicate these recommendations to their faculty and laboratory managers.

 

  1. Establish a clear communication plan for each laboratory – Assemble a laboratory directory with cell phone numbers, land line numbers and email addresses. Develop a communication plan for email and phone text messaging and test it. Personnel must have the ability to contact other staff and faculty so they can receive instruction about laboratory issues. I ask that Chairs and Center directors forward all completed laboratory directories to me and the EVPRI by Tuesday March 17th.

 

  1. Designate 1 to 2 essential personnel in each laboratory – In the event that a major disruption in university function occurs, it is important that each laboratory identify these key personnel so that they can be given access to the facilities. Laboratory essential personnel should be prepared in the coming week to keep the laboratory functioning. Some tasks to consider are reagent preservation, maintenance of long-term experiments, monitoring of essential reagent storage equipment, monitoring of sensitive equipment and human subject issues. I ask that Chairs and Center directors forward a list of key personnel sorted by laboratory to me and the EVPRI by Tuesday March 17th.

 

  1. Develop a clear plan to shut down your laboratory – If the university is closed for any period of time it is important to consider the effects this will have and the actions that must be completed to ensure safety. These actions include: preserve research projects and critical reagents, protect sensitive equipment, ensure safety of an unattended laboratory, preserve data integrity, among others. Laboratory leaders should identify any experiments that can be ramped down or delayed. Faculty should identify others who do similar research to identify ways to work together to maintain critical laboratory functions and to share essential personnel. Laboratories should begin immediately to preserve critical cell lines or mouse lines. Biological and chemical waste should be removed before interruptions caused by staff reductions.

 

  1. Remove and dispose of unnecessary items from your -80 and -20 freezers, and liquid nitrogen storage – In a crisis it may be necessary to consolidate perishable materials because of electricity failures that affect our freezers or no liquid nitrogen deliveries. Try to consolidate valuable material in freezers that are monitored and automatically notify you if the temperature is sub-optimal

 

  1. Map out the supply chains for your research – Assess your inventory and order reagents that have durable shelf lives. Attempt to establish an adequate inventory of important lab and safety supplies that may be in short supply due to global supply chain disruptions. Plan for delays or even loss of support in dry ice, liquid nitrogen, biological waste removal and hazardous substance removal.

 

  1. Check updates regularly from the EVPRI office – The EVPRI office is updating information about COVID19 and its impact on UofL. Their main COVID19 page ishttps://louisville.edu/research/covid19resources and their COVID19 FAQ page is https://louisville.edu/research/covid19resources/faq

 

I greatly appreciate the many suggestions I’ve received about how to prepare our laboratories for these challenges. Please feel free to contact me with any questions about these guidelines.

I am confident we will get through the coming days and the lessons we learn will be useful in the years to come.

 

All the best,

Jon

 

Jon Klein, MD, PhD FASN

Vice-Dean for Research

James Graham Brown Foundation Endowed Chair in Proteomics

Director, Clinical and Translational Sciences Institute

University of Louisville School of Medicine