Important Communications for Researchers

Sponsored Programs

What is OSP doing to assess the impact of COVID-19 on sponsored projects and to communicate with faculty and project personnel?
OSP is closely monitoring sponsor/agency guidance regarding COVID-19’s impact on sponsored projects including the operations of sponsor agencies, extension of proposal deadlines, and performance on active awards. OSP will share sponsor or proposal/project-specific updates with faculty and project personnel supported by the sponsored project who might be affected. Broader sponsor updates and guidance will be shared with the research community via the OSP website and via email.

What guidance and updates have sponsor agencies shared to date?
Due to the evolving nature of the situation, sponsors are still formulating guidance. Some sponsors have proactively extended proposal deadlines for specific opportunities and others have suggested a willingness to consider an extension, on a case-by-case basis, for investigators unable to meet a proposal deadline due to COVID-19-related disruptions. Faculty and project personnel should contact their OSP projects officer for assistance if a COVID-19-related extension of a proposal submission deadline is needed.

How might COVID-19 impact my sponsored research project?
It depends on the nature of the project. The most evident example is where the scope of work involves international travel that is affected by US Department of State and NYU travel restrictions. Major sponsors, including NSF and NIH, are developing guidance to inform whether sponsored project-related travel canceled due to COVID-19 can be charged to the associated awards. Regarding whether or not sponsored project-related travel is advisable, sponsors are directing faculty to their institution for guidance. NYU guidance applies and can be found here.

What if I or member(s) of my team are unable to work on sponsored project(s) either in lab or remotely?
As in the case of any disruption to research and other sponsored activities, OSP will coordinate with faculty and project personnel supported by sponsored awards, their local department administrators and the Sponsored Programs Administration (SPA) unit to confirm and inform:

  • The duration of the faculty and project personnel’s absence from their research project(s)
  • The need to notify the sponsor(s) of their absence
  • Possible adjustments in salaries charged to grants by departments/SPA

Is OSP still available to assist me now that NYU has moved to conducting administrative and business operations remotely?

OSP will continue to support the academic mission by ensuring the ongoing function of sponsored programs in a remote capacity, providing support to the research community for proposal submissions and awards and contract processing, subject to the availability of sponsor electronic portals and communication mechanisms.

Any sponsors (NYS, NYC) requiring a wet ink signature will be provided with an electronically signed version of the proposal/award documents with a letter confirming NYU’s closure and with wet ink-signed documents to follow upon NYU’s reopening. All OSP-supported systems, including Cayuse 424, Cayuse SP, and the OSP Wiki will remain operational and accessible remotely to OSP staff and the NYU research community.

If you have a specific question or issue related to the impact of COVID-19 on your sponsored project proposal or award, please contact: osp.agency@nyu.edu.

If you have questions about the impact of COVID-19 on institutionally funded seed awards (MEGA, URCF), contact research.development@nyu.edu.

Conflict of Interest (COI)

Will I still need to submit conflict of commitment and conflict of interest disclosures as well as research certifications for proposed sponsored projects now that NYU is conducting administrative and business operations remotely?
Yes. All COI systems and resources are accessible outside the NYU network. The Office of Conflict of Interest remains available to provide assistance to administrators and faculty to ensure conflict disclosures are submitted and reviewed timely in accordance with federal regulations, sponsor requirements, and NYU policy.

Human Subjects Research

 

Effective immediately, all in-person research interactions with human subjects must be suspended if that research is approved under the auspices of the NYU Washington Square IRB.

This policy is being enacted under the advisement of the New York State Department of Health and the New York City Department of Health and Mental Hygiene, which strongly recommend that all persons, whether healthy or sick, should stay at home. The NYU IRB deems person-to-person contact between researchers and their participants to be an unnecessary risk to human subjects.

This suspension does not apply to research activities that are carried out online, over the phone, or through other means that do not require in-person interaction with participants.

NYU investigators whose research employs in-person interaction and who are able to redesign their study designs to eliminate in-person interactions are encouraged to do so. If such study designs have not yet been approved by the IRB, investigators should submit an amendment to their IRB approval as soon as possible. Such amendments will be reviewed as quickly as possible.

If needed, investigators whose research is funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, or other funding agencies will be provided with assistance in reporting this research disruption to their agencies.

The ban on in-person research activities will be lifted as soon as the NYU IRB, based on guidance from government health agencies, determines it safe for in-person interactions to occur.

Researchers who believe that risks to the participants would be increased by the disruption of study protocols should contact the University Committee on Activities Involving Human Subjects (UCAIHS), New York University, (212) 998-4808 or ask.humansubjects@nyu.edu.
 

NYU IRB Guidelines for Reporting Changes Due to COVID-19

The NYU IRB is monitoring the COVID-19 epidemic and is aware that it may impact some investigators’ ability to carry out study procedures as described in their IRB-approved protocols. We recognize that this might result in protocol deviations and/or protocol amendments.

Our federal-wide assurance with the DHHS requires the institution, researchers, and the Institutional Review Board to follow written procedures to ensure:

  • the prompt reporting of proposed changes in research and
  • that investigators are conducting research activities under the terms and conditions of the IRB-approved study protocol—except when necessary to eliminate apparent immediate harm to the subject.

In the context of the COVID-19 epidemic, such changes to the protocol that do not require prior IRB approval will most likely be for studies in which subjects may receive direct benefits or that requires multiple interactions with subjects scheduled to receive the interactions. For instance, a clinical trial evaluating the effects of a mental health intervention may need to alter the method or the timing of the delivery of the intervention, or cease the delivery of the intervention altogether, if a clinic closes or it is in the best interest of the subject(s) to not travel to a clinic.
 
If you need to make a change to eliminate apparent immediate hazards to subjects, it is permissible to make the change before NYU IRB review and approval. Such safety-related changes may include procedures to minimize potential exposure to COVID-19 through adopting recognized health and safety measures or altering the delivery of study interventions that may directly benefit subjects.

A modification submitted via Cayuse IRB citing all changes is required within five business days of enacting the change. This modification should note the timing of, the reason for, and the status of the changes. It must contain sufficient detail for the IRB to assess the risk associated with the changes.
 
To not require prior IRB approval, changes must be necessary to eliminate apparent immediate hazards to the subjects. For instance, moving data collection from in-person to online for a study with one point of data collection would not eliminate immediate risks. Changes to these studies would require prior IRB approval via a modification submission in Cayuse IRB.
 
The NYU IRB encourages investigators to prepare for any disruptions or changes to their research by anticipating possible amendments and submitting them to the NYU IRB, even if they ultimately will not be implemented.
 
We encourage faculty and staff to make plans for possible disruption and to prepare communications to research collaborators and participants. Please contact the NYU IRB office if you are unsure if a change requires IRB approval or have any questions about this guidance at ask.humansubjects@nyu.edu.

Animal Subject Research and the Office of Veterinary Resources

OVR will continue providing humane care and use of animals through veterinary oversight and assure compliance with applicable federal and state regulations. OVR Animal Technicians will remain on site to provide animal care and technical assistance while normal University operations are suspended.

The University’s Animal Welfare Committee (UAWC) shall continue to review protocols related to the use of animals in research. Any necessary meetings will be conducted via Zoom, WebEx, or Skype. Until further notice, New Scientist Orientations and steps associated with new user clearance, including facility tours, will be postponed.

UAWC-related questions or concerns should be directed to: uawc.info@nyu.edu

Questions related to animal or supply orders should be directed to: tl940@nyu.edu

Questions related to billing should be directed to: tcr1@nyu.edu

Questions related to OVR should be directed to: ovr_management@nyu.edu

Research and Laboratory Safety and Institutional Biosafety Committee

EHS will continue to support the NYU community; however some of our non-critical functions are being curtailed.

EHS Research & Laboratory Safety plans to maintain essential services to support the NYU community. While our highest priority is protecting your health and safety, we also remain committed to the University’s research operations. Beginning Monday, March 23, some lower-priority services will be curtailed (e.g., less frequent waste pick-ups) and we will scale back providing daily on-site support.

This does not mean R&LS will not maintain a presence on campus. We will continue to operate per normal schedule and will be onsite for regulatory inspections until those agencies decide to cease their operations. We have already taken measures to reschedule in-person training and reduce inspections to minimize the likelihood of COVID-19 transmission. We will continue to prioritize EHS-related services to the University community and adhere to the directives of the state Department of Health and the Office of the Governor.

R&LS provides services in the following areas:

  • Chemical Safety
  • Biological and Biosecurity Safety
  • FDNY Laboratory Compliance
  • Lab Incident Investigation
  • Controlled Substance Program
  • Non-Ionizing Radiation Safety
  • Research & Laboratory Safety Training
  • Fume Hood and Clear Air Device Program
  • Laboratory and Clinical Audit Program

Questions related to R&LS please contact ehs@nyu.edu.


For up-to-date information regarding laboratory safety, please review the Research and Laboratory Safety FAQ (PDF).

Guidelines for laboratory planning and activities to commence should COVID-19 disrupt a sizable portion of campus and the University sends notification that normal operations are or shall be suspended:

  • Principal Investigators should create a communication plan if one is not in place. Points of contacts should be designated so everyone receives timely information. PIs and researchers should discuss approaches now should access become restricted to research facilities. Action plans should be written, reviewed by staff and conspicuously posted in the facility.
  • Ensure remote access to information and systems. If authorized, all lab staff involved in research projects should ensure they have access to information they need to carry out work remotely. Examples of the types of research work that can be done remotely are: data analysis, literature reviews, writing proposals, research papers, meetings, etc.
  • Prioritize lab experiments. This will depend upon the nature of your research. You may want to consider prioritizing work that can only be carried out in your lab, and put off work manageable via remote support. Hold off starting long-term experiments in which samples cannot be saved.
  • Save samples. If you have already started carrying out a long-term experiment and if it is feasible to freeze samples at specific stages, you might consider doing this more often.
    Return lab chemicals. All chemicals should be returned to storage areas once use is complete for a lab experiment. Fume hoods are not an acceptable storage location.
  • Shut the Sash. Fume hoods should be closed if not actively working in the hood or at the end of a work day in case space becomes idle for some time.
  • Remove or request waste pick-ups. There is no way to pinpoint when and if there will be a disruption. It is important to ensure that all waste is removed when filled to the appropriate capacity. Do not stockpile waste. More information on proper waste procedure »
  • Ensure that individuals performing critical tasks have been adequately trained, have access to all PPE and essential safety equipment, and understand whom to contact with technical or safety questions.
  • Do not perform high-risk procedures alone!  When working alone is necessary, exercise maximum caution.
  • Notify colleagues of your schedule when working alone for an extended period of time.
  • Safety is critical, and with the potential for unexpected absences, it is important that those who remain on campus to conduct critical research activities leave them in a safe state daily.
  • Experiments should be left each day in a stable mode such that they do not present any biological, chemical or physical hazards in case of a prolonged absence. Further, experiments must incorporate "fail-safe" measures; that is, in the event that a member of the research team is not able to return to the lab the next day, or if there is a failure of air supply, cooling, power, water supply, vacuum or other connection, the experiment should not create hazardous conditions.
  • Outside of active experiments, biological, chemical and radiological materials and equipment must be secured in a safe manner. Physically hazardous equipment (cryogenic, heated, pressurized, under vacuum, etc.) similarly must be maintained in a safe state.

COVID-19 Research on Campus

COVID-19 Research Catalyst Grants

The Office of the Vice Provost for Research is announcing a new internal funding opportunity aimed at jump-starting COVID-19-related research projects. The deadline is April 13, 2020, and NYU teams can apply for up to $10,000 per project. The start date for these new projects is immediate upon award notification. To start your application, visit COVID-19 Research Catalyst Grants.

Biosafety

Any research group that plans to conduct research with SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19), which can be performed safely at Biosafety Level 1 or 2, must obtain Institutional Biosafety Committee (IBC) approval prior to beginning any such research. As part of the IBC review process, a full risk assessment would be conducted to ensure worker safety and agent containment.

Additional Resources And Checklists For Laboratories In The Event Of A Disruption To Research

Laboratories using radioactive materials and other controlled substances should place these materials in their designated secure storage location as approved by EHS. A hazard categorized laboratory emergency planning checklist should include specific guidance related to biospecimens, compressed gases, radioactive materials, biological agents, chemical agents and electronics.

Consider the following in regards to your laboratory or facility and address each item with specifics (locations, supplies, contact persons, alternate locations).

  • Is the following information posted on the outside of the entrance doors, with current information?
  • Names and office phone numbers of the principal investigator/lab manager, alternate, EHS, Emergency Services.
  • Name and phone numbers of essential personnel who will remain onsite in the event normal operations are or shall be suspended
  • Name of individual who can gain access to the laboratory under any circumstances (restricted access)

If the University sends notification that normal operations are or shall be suspended, review your laboratory emergency shut down procedures, gather necessary supplies, make arrangements for storage of hazardous materials; review powering down procedures for electrical equipment.

Supplies

Please ensure you have all necessary items on hand or orders placed to continue preservation of research, have the following items in supply:

  • Dry ice
  • Liquid nitrogen
  • Labels, to place on all containers and bags for identification.
  • Markers, to write on the labels.
  • Tape, to secure container screw top lid and tie off garbage bags.
  • Storage of water reactive, radioactive, and bio hazardous materials via break resistant plastic containers with screw type closures. These are secondary protective containers and must be large enough so breakable primary containers can be placed inside and secured. They are used to protect against the release of harmful materials into the environment.
  • Chemical Spill kit: assure the proper chemical spill supplies are readily available for the types of materials you have in your lab. These materials should be readily available and stored in a designated location.