COVID-19: Guidance on Status of Research Operations

Dear Pitt Colleagues,

Please read and distribute as appropriate within your research group.

We are writing to clarify the status of our research operations at the University of Pittsburgh during the COVID-19 national health crisis. The University remains open for business, and we have not officially reduced research or laboratory-based operations. We support all of our faculty, staff and students who participate in research activities in practicing an abundance of caution.

There are a number of concerns that our researchers are presently dealing with to consider how this health crisis affects research at Pitt. We offer the following guidance:

  • If your research or scholarship can be conducted remotely or entirely online, you are free to sustain these activities, if you choose.
  • If you believe there are concerns about safety, health or impacts on physical facilities in continuing your research in this environment, individual PIs are authorized to suspend their research activities—if this can be done safely.
  • For clinical researchers in particular, we recognize that there are some studies that are critical to a particular patient population and need to be sustained for treatment or ethical reasons, while other studies (e.g., those not targeting a direct therapeutic benefit) might be suspended. We will be sending a separate message to these clinical researchers outlining the options for managing these research activities going forward.

Planning for Future Contingencies

As the global situation is changing rapidly, the University may in the near future decide to move to a restricted research posture, with some activities limited or suspended. To assist us in managing any such decision, principal investigators will soon receive a web-based Survey of Potential Pandemic Impacts on Research that will allow them to share information about essential research activities where changes could have significant impacts to Pitt.

Any decision to alter, limit or suspend research activity can have serious impacts on University facilities, personnel, human health and safety and needs to be communicated to leadership and among researchers to ensure consistency and transparency. To assist with that communication, the Pitt Office of the Senior Vice Chancellor for Research and the UPMC Office of Sponsored Programs and Research Support will also create a reporting tool to which PIs can report whether their studies are being suspended or limited and the rationale for the decision. Please be on the alert for information about this reporting tool.

The situation is changing rapidly and we ask for your cooperation and flexibility as we all work together to achieve our mission.

Rob A. Rutenbar
Senior Vice Chancellor for Research