COVID-19 Research Update
I am writing with regards to the impact of COVID-19 on research in the Faculty of Medicine. Today there have been some important updates from central UofT.
1. https://research.utoronto.ca/covid-19. This weblink provides updated information about human subjects research, animal research, and lab research carried out at UofT and was posted this evening by the Division of the Vice-President, Research and Innovation.
2. Email from Prof. Kelly Hannah-Moffat, VP, Human Resources & Equity, sent to Principals, Deans, Academic Directors & Chairs (PDAD&C) this afternoon just before 4 p.m. (attached here as a Word file). Please pay particular attention to the Self-Isolation/Illness Declaration Form:
- Appointed Faculty, Librarian & Staff Self-Declaration form
- Non-Appointed Employee Self-Declaration form
It is essential for you to understand that the COVID-19 “…situation can change quickly so researchers need to prepare to delay, scale back or stop research activities.” For the Faculty of Medicine, what this means is that Departments continue to update and refine plans for business and academic continuity, and that researchers prioritize their research activities in preparation of the real possibility of having to ramp down rapidly, and then be able to ramp up again in the future.
For researchers and their labs, this may entail (including but is not limited to):
- Placing emphasis on completing experiments required for revisions of papers, grant applications, and completion of thesis requirements;
- Making arrangements for working from home and having a virtual research environment, including adequate data access and security;
- Careful management of animal colonies (more detailed information from DCM will be forthcoming by Tuesday, March 17);
- Storing cultures, reagents, etc., for future use;
- Ensuring equipment is operated and managed appropriately for possible shut down and reactivation;
- Ensuring that COVID-19-related research can occur;
- Additional contingencies should personnel not be allowed to come onto campus.
This is a serious situation that continues to evolve. During these challenging and uncertain times, it is essential that we work cooperatively in addressing the current—and future—challenges associated with COVID-19. Public health recommendations for hand hygiene, social distancing, etc., are important to follow, not only in the work environment at UofT but also outside of the work environment (e.g., while commuting, at home).
Finally, the Faculty of Medicine and UofT are working with our TAHSN hospital partners on COVID-19 issues, including research issues. I am committed to providing more information as it becomes available and would like to thank you for your ongoing concern, attention, and commitment.
Richard G. Hegele, MD, FRCPC, PhD
Vice Dean, Research & Innovation, Faculty of Medicine, University of Toronto