Letters to the UMB Community

UMB Research Phased Plan

May 19, 2020

Dear Colleagues:

The University of Maryland, Baltimore (UMB) is recognized as one of the pre-eminent public research universities in the nation. In the past two months, while on-campus research has been significantly curtailed, UMB has made headlines for our work on breakthrough discoveries and for conducting critical clinical trials related to the COVID-19 pandemic. I am grateful to those working on this research and for those who rapidly shifted to a remote environment to sustain your important research.

After Gov. Hogan's announcement on May 13, 2020, regarding the reduction of restrictions across the state of Maryland, we can now consider the next steps for our research enterprise. I am pleased to announce that UMB's COVID-19 Research Advisory Task Force has developed a phased plan for non-clinical laboratory-based research at UMB.

With the cooperation and support of UMB's entire research community, in coordination with campus research safety and emergency management leaders, we aim to successfully transition to an on-campus research presence over the next few weeks.

At this point, I can provide the following guidance:

  • We will move immediately into Phase 0 of that plan, which involves planning and preparation for the gradual and deliberate reopening of on-campus research activities with a proposed start date sometime in June 2020. We cannot be more specific on the date at this time, because we have to ensure that all necessary operating infrastructure and support services are in place so that research facilities are safe for the increased number of personnel to return. In this era of COVID-19, your safety is our utmost priority.
  • During Phase 0, one person per lab may be allowed to return to campus, on as limited basis as possible, to prepare the laboratory for research. Note that no new research activities are authorized during this phase. Instead, this person should be charged with:
    • Assuring sufficient personal protective equipment exists in the lab and, if not, securing it through coordination with other University entities
    • Checking delicate equipment and determining if a recalibration or service visit is necessary
    • Beginning to consider how a low-density appropriately socially distanced working environment can be established
    • Inventorying resources and ordering if necessary
    • Assessing animal colony and planning for breeding or ordering as needed
  • We hope to be entering the limited research phase, labeled Phase 1, in June. Phase 1 envisions research restarting at approximately 25 percent capacity and with significant other restrictions. I will share more details with you on the precise rollout of Phase 1 as they become available.
  • When conditions warrant, we will move to a more expansive research phase, labeled Phase 2.

I hope that you will join an upcoming virtual President's Town Hall on Tuesday, May 26 at 2:00 p.m. to discuss the plan for phasing in on-campus research activities, including how we will prepare our research buildings and laboratories for safely reopening. As with everything we do, your safety and well-being are foremost in our minds.

Please contact Laurie Locascio, vice president for research, for more information.

Sincerely,

Bruce E. Jarrell, MD, FACS
Interim President


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