Research-Related Considerations Regarding Coronavirus COVID-19 at the Perelman School of Medicine


At the Perelman School of Medicine (PSOM) and Penn Medicine, safety is our highest priority.  The  continued spread of the COVID-19 pandemic may affect research at the PSOM, and we must do all we can now to minimize the impact and to reduce the potential for disrupting research programs in the long term. 

While the situation is still evolving, please take the following steps now to ensure research efforts proceed without disruption:

1. Establish a robust and clear communication and operations continuity plan for your research group.

Groups should develop a communications plan in order to share information quickly and accurately.  In the event that we need to close a building or buildings,

  • identify critical personnel (as long as they are well and able to work) who might be designated to enter the facility to perform critical tasks.
  • to minimize density in the lab, consider having your team members work in shifts and hold virtual lab meetings until the threat subsides.
  • consider the work that can be done remotely; make sure lab members have the proper equipment and access to files (Penn+Box, etc.), and consult your PMACS local service provider with questions.
  • please share your updated lab personnel list with your departmental Business Administrator.

2. Consider the supply chains for your research efforts.

Supplies that originate outside of the US, and perhaps even those originating within the US, may become limited. Labs should consider whether there are any supplies and reagents with long shelf lives that they might want to order a stock of now.

3. Maintain a clean work environment.

While housekeeping staff continue to keep our facilities and labs clean, please continue to abide by Environmental Health & Radiation Safety (EHRS) standard lab protocols.

4. Discard unnecessary items from your -80 and -20 freezers and liquid nitrogen storage locations now.  Taking a close inventory is critical to ensure adequate space for transfer/storage of reagents and samples if an emergency were to arise.  In a crisis, it may be necessary to move perishable materials owing to lack of regular liquid N2 deliveries or other disruptions. In addition, ensure you have remote freezer monitoring and update the associated emergency contact list posted on your freezer(s).

5. Develop a concise and well-outlined plan for acute shutdown of laboratory functions.

Develop a plan for which activities can be postponed, and what critical activities would need to be continued through a potential closure.  Confirm that all members of your lab team are informed regarding your plan and their roles.  Following all policies and procedures for data security and utilization, plan for appropriate off-site access to necessary data to facilitate working from home.

6. For work regarding human research, develop a communication strategy to keep your participants informed.  Further information on human research contingency planning will be forthcoming.

Lastly, please be on the lookout for information regarding animal research and husbandry from the University Laboratory Animal Resources.

In addition to the above steps, continue to:

  • Help prevent the spread of respiratory diseases like COVID-19. Recommended measures are similar to those for preventing the common cold and flu, notably:
    • Wash hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds
    • Stay home when you are not feeling well
    • Cough and sneeze into your elbow and avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth
    • Shower when coming home from work and launder your work clothes
    • Avoid large gatherings that place you in close contact with other people
  • Limit personal travel. Travel to and participation in all conferences or large professional gatherings in the United States and abroad has been prohibited until further notice.
  • Update your emergency contact via Live Process (see email sent to you on 3/7/2020) and Workday
  • Update your lab staff, including your students and post-docs, on updated information and resources available through the University.