As the COVID-19 pandemic evolves, VUMC guidance for all members of our community may change rapidly.  VUMC specific guidance is being updated regularly and can be found on the VUMC coronavirus webpage: www.vumc.org/coronavirus/information-vumc-employees-and-patients.  

  • For Vanderbilt employees in research and core labs: If you experience symptoms of and/or are concerned about exposure to COVID-19, it is recommended that you stay home and call (888) 312-0847 to be assessed. More information: www.vumc.org/coronavirus/information-vumc-employees-and-patients 
  • Research continues at VUMC. Learn more about work now in progress here: www.vumc.org/oor/vumc-covid-19-research-activities
  • REMINDER:  Cloth masks must be worn in all VUMC public areas including: hallways, lobbies, meeting rooms, and cafeterias, and in shared workspaces including research labs, offices and break areas.

October 19, 2020 Status: VUMC Research continues in Phase 2
All research personnel are reminded to familiarize themselves with the Updated Guidance for VUMC Research Enterprise Functions and Responsibilities of the Lab PI or Core Director guidelines.

See the VUMC Research Enterprise Functions and other sections below for more details.

New guidelines are available for VU undergraduates who will perform research within the VUMC research enterprise.  Both VU undergraduates and the faculty who mentor them should be aware of the guidance and terms for review, approval and conduct of VU undergraduate activities in VUMC research labs.  These guidelines apply to VU undergraduates only. Non-VU undergraduate research interns and observers are not permitted on campus or to participate in remote research experiences, until further notice. Details are outlined here: Download PDF

Updated Guidance for VUMC Research Enterprise Functions
Effective June 9, 2020: VUMC research enterprise operations are in Phase 2 as described in the following guidance:

Information posted here applies to individual research labs (comprised of trainees, research staff and faculty investigators) and research core facilities. Especially at this time of COVID-19 outbreak, all research lab and core leaders are encouraged to regularly review and update contingency plans for maintaining critical lab operations on site or via remote work from home, based on the specific needs for each lab.  

Contact Susan Meyn s.meyn@vumc.org at any time with comments, questions or concerns, and always be sure to monitor VUMC announcements and updates for the latest guidance.

Vanderbilt University Medical Center (VUMC) will continue to provide an attractive environment for VU undergraduates to perform research as part of their educational experience.  To assure safety, regulatory compliance, and an optimal experience for students, faculty, and VUMC staff and patients, both VU undergraduates and the faculty who mentor them should be aware of the following updated guidance and terms.

For VU undergraduates seeking to conduct research with VUMC-employed faculty mentors, the undergraduate is welcome to reach out directly to potential faculty mentors, and together the faculty mentor and undergraduate will plan the research activities they will undertake.  In a new process this year, these plans must first be reviewed and approved by the appropriate supervisory entity in VU, before they can be implemented.  Like all research activities that are subject to phased research ramp-up review and approval, the submission, review, and approval of research plans involving undergraduates will be managed through a VU intake form completed by the faculty mentor via REDCap.  For more information about submitting research plans or the research ramp-up review and approval process, please consult the Resources for 4-Phase Research Ramp-up on the VU Research website

After initial VU approval, and in coordination with Medical Center Relations (MCR), additional requirements specific to undergraduates and their VUMC-employed faculty mentors must be fulfilled before approved research plans can be implemented.  MCR is the central VUMC point for all VU undergraduate students seeking a research experience at VUMC.  More information available at https://www.vumc.org/medicalcenterrelations/. 

To engage in research at VUMC, whether paid, unpaid, or for credit, participants and VUMC mentors must meet all requirements including:

  • Approval from the designated VU central office for the research experience

  • A succinct description of the specific research project that includes the location, educational objectives, goals for the experience, faculty mentor, and start and stop dates

  • Completion of a VUMC pre-appointment background screen

  • Clearance from VUMC Occupational Health Clinic

  • Having and maintaining health insurance for the stated dates of the research experience

  • Participant-signed VUMC Confidentiality Agreement, Emergency Contact, Release Form, Potential Hazard Summary

  • Completed Statement of Agreement (participant, mentor, and department chair)

  • Completed Faculty Responsibility Agreement

  • Completion of the CITI Responsible Conduct of Research (RCR) module (https://www.citiprogram.org/) and VUMC Compliance Training (the VUMC Learning Exchange). Additional training may be required to work in the designated research area (https://www.vumc.org/safety/).

The MCR process above is initiated by designated administrative personnel in the department of the VUMC PI’s primary appointment. Research experiences may not begin until all requirements have been met, and the VUMC department receives the appointment or approval letter from MCR. To initiate the process, please contact vumc.iso@vumc.org

Until further notice:

  • Undergraduate students will not be granted access to clinical systems containing protected health information (i.e., eStar)
  • Non-VU undergraduate research interns and observers are not permitted on campus, or to participate in remote research experiences.
  • All other research experiences in VUMC labs for non-VU undergraduate students, high school students, or other research volunteers and interns are suspended.  This includes any clinical shadowing component.  For questions, contact Medical Center Relations at vumc.iso@vumc.org
  • For guidance on hiring undergraduate student workers, reach out to your VUMC HR business partner for more information: https://hr.vumc.org/find-your-business-partner 

General guidance when a lab member tests positive for COVID-19, has traveled, or has come in contact with a positive COVID-19 case at home or in the community:

VUMC-employed faculty, staff and postdocs should report to their PI or Core Director, and to Occupational Health:

Graduate students should report to their PI and to Student Health:

Download: Responsibilities of the Lab PI or Core Director, when lab member(s) tests positive for COVID-19


All lab personnel are strongly encouraged to adopt prudent infection control practices including use of universal precautions at all times while on VUMC campus. 

Download the VUMC infographic for sharing and posting across your areas.

This CDC poster is a helpful reminder of basic hygiene practices - print and display at lab entrances and benches.

Review the Updated Guidance for VUMC Research Enterprise Functions (May 5, 2020), and make a plan for your lab that meets the phased return to onsite work guidelines:
Read the guidelines for phasing in research activities on campus.

As travel and vacations are resuming it is important to maintain a focus on safety for you, your family, your colleagues and patients when you return to work from traveling.  Learn more

Keeping yourself safe always includes wearing your mask, maintaining social distancing and washing your hands. It also includes monitoring yourself for signs of potential infection. If you have an exposure outside of work, it is still important to inform Occupational Health.  Learn more

Additional guidance is found on https://www.vumc.org/coronavirus/employees, including:

Other resources:

https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/disinfecting-building-facility.htmlVanderbilt Environmental Health and Safety (VEHS) Biosafety has issued specific guidance for researchers planning to work with COVID-19 clinical specimens or SARS-CoV-2 associated materials. Importantly, researchers must work with VEHS Biosafety on a risk assessment before finalizing research plans or submitting a grant proposal. 

Visit the VEHS Biosafety website to learn more and submit an intake form for research with COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 materials, and to review the COVID-19/SARS-CoV-2 material biosafety action grid to determine actions that will likely apply to your research plans. 

Contact Robin Trundy or Bettye Ridley for assistance or more information. 

First review Updated Guidance for VUMC Research Enterprise Functions (May 5, 2020):
Read the guidelines for phasing in research activities on campus.

Users of core facilities/shared resources should contact the facility manager in advance to plan for any additional core-specific guidance and restrictions.

VEHS has prepared a Biosafety Guide for Research CoresDownload the PDF

Cloth masks must be worn in VUMC public areas including research cores/shared facilities, which are considered public areas. 

Cores may:

  • Reduce onsite staffing to ensure physical distancing requirements (> 6ft), which could affect turnaround time
  • Prioritize COVID-19 related projects as needed related to staffing and capacity constraints
  • Require documentation of Biosafety Officer approval from core users before accepting new projects/samples
  • Restrict user access to core lab or equipment, wholly or in part
  • Require users to sanitize equipment and workstations before/after use
  • Require users to supply their own PPE and adhere to other biosafety requirements as applicable
  • Temporarily suspend services in response to supply shortages or other capacity constraints

Monitor the ACUP COVID-19 Response website for updates and status for animal facilities.

At this time, delivery companies, vendors and instrument service engineers are allowed on site for essential, non-sales related, purposes. All visitors are required to wear a face mask, and will be screened before they can enter VUMC buildings.  Screening includes temperature and symptom checks. Screened visitors will receive a sticker/badge noting they have passed through the screening, and should wear it all times while on site.

If the visitor is bringing equipment, it is recommended they enter at the main VUMC dock, or the MRBIII 21st Ave dock. 

Before scheduling service visits, lab personnel are encouraged to check for updated guidance on visitor policies on the VUMC COVID-19 information site: https://www.vumc.org/coronavirus/information-patients-and-visitors 

VUMC’s summer research programming, whether for non-clinical or clinical educational opportunities, is canceled for the summer and until further notice.  For more information, go to www.vumc.org/coronavirus/latest-news/summer-research-and-educational-programs-canceled-due-covid-19-pandemic or contact vumc.iso@vumc.org with any questions. 

VUMC-employed postdocs should take their guidance regarding on-campus or remote work from their VUMC employer. Any questions about a trainee’s responsibilities, especially of those involving research operations, should be directly addressed by the faculty PI/mentor in concert with the departmental chair.

In response to the rapidly developing COVID-19 situation, NIH recently published a number of resources related to policy modifications and administrative flexibilities for funding applicants and recipients. OSP has assembled a list of these resources on its blog, available here.

For questions or concerns, please reach out to your OSP specialist or directly contact Clint Brown by cell at 615-414-1473.

In case of delayed grant submission due to self-isolation, quarantine or sickness, you are strongly encouraged to discuss your specific situation with your agency Program Official and VUMC OSP administrator. More information on sponsor-specific policies for disasters and emergencies:  

Sick leave and other paid absences that are permitted under VUMC policy may be charged to a grant, per VUMC indirect cost rate agreement with the federal government.

If the PI or Key Personnel named in an award will be absent from the project for greater than 90 days, Federal agencies require notification. While this is not expected, be mindful of this prior approval requirement and notify OSP sponsoredprograms@vumc.org for guidance.

VICTR has provided a set of FAQs containing information about COVID-19 as it relates to the conduct of clinical investigation, operations, and sponsored projects.  Learn more here.

Updated guidance from the Human Research Protection Program is found here: www.vumc.org/irb/covid-19-updates-research

May 13, 2020 Town Hall - Research Enterprise Transition to Phase 1.

This town hall provided guidance on research activities, animal care, biosafety, occupational health, and cores as VUMC transitions to Phase 1. 

5/13/20 Town Hall slide deck (download PDF)

Access the 5/13/20 Town Hall recording on the vDLS website (VUMC password required)

5/13/20 Town Hall Q&A edited transcript - (download PDF)


July 23, 2020 Core Leadership Town Hall

This town hall provided an overview of current guidance for VUMC core lab operations during the COVID-19 pandemic

7/23/20 Town Hall slide deck (download PDF)

7/23/20 Town Hall recording - (VUMC password required)


 

The Vanderbilt Center for Immunobiology has set up a Slack workspace for researchers to connect and share virtual expertise. Research Matching serves as a communication and networking platform for researchers, to help connect need with expertise.

To join this virtual matchmaking network:

1) Click here to join the "Research Matching" workspace. Slack will verify your email address. If you do not have a Slack account you will be prompted to create one. If you do have a Slack account please log in as usual. 

2) Type "researchmatching" into the workspace box.

3) You will be in the "general" public channel and will have access to the "needsomeonewho" channel to see how you can assist or post.

For questions, contact Summer Brown at summer.brown@vumc.org