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COVID-19 Information for College of Medicine Researchers

Laboratories  |  Donating supplies  |  Funding opportunities  |  Existing grants  
Core facilities  |  Working remotely  |  Online learning  |  Volunteering  

 

URGENT: clinical laboratory testing supplies needed for UIHC 

In accordance with the Office of the Vice President for Research, new restrictions on research within College of Medicine buildings are now being implemented. We understand these restrictions may be burdensome and diminish the spirit of what research is all about. Hopefully, we can adjust to these changes quickly and effectively. It is possible that restrictions will be tightened in the short-term and researchers should prepare in case we find ourselves in a situation where only the single most critical lab person from each lab will be allowed access to campus. The purpose is to not only minimize person-to-person contact but also prepare for the possibility that many research functions may shutdown entirely in the near future. Thus, it is important to minimize all current laboratory activity and cease initiation of new experiments. Keep in mind that there will be global supply and shipping delays.  

By now investigators need to have:

  • Identified the minimum essential procedures and processes that require regular personnel attention (e.g. cell culture maintenance, animal studies).
  • Prioritized critical laboratory activities.
  • Identified all research experiments that can curtailed or delayed and get them to that point.
  • Coordinated with colleagues who have similar research activities to identify ways to ensure coverage of critical activities (eg animals, -80C freezer checks, instrument maintenance).
  • Established on-line methods of communication with your colleagues.

The Carver College of Medicine Office of Research will update researchers weekly with a summarized newsletter highlighting important information. If your attention is elsewhere and you'd like to opt-out of those communications for the next three months, please select the approprate button below. If you prefer to have up-to-date information as it becomes available, reseachers also have the option to subscribe to a daily update. 

      


Laboratories

  • Laboratory activity must be minimized to essential tasks only to maintain baseline activity while maintaining long-term viability. This includes tasks like maintaining essential non-commercially available animal lines or responding to veterinarian needs, maintenance of critical cell lines that cannot be preserved, finishing long-term experiments such as in vivo studies, and studies directly related to COVID-19. It does not include starting new projects, breeding new mice, and conducting experiments involving multiple people and/or multiple instruments, cores, and other resources. A general rule of thumb would be activities one would do on the weekend - those necessary time-sensitive tasks that require limited time to accomplish. 
  • Violations of this policy may be reported to the Office of Research.  
  • It is NOT intended that non-critical research/scholarly activities should stop. Activities that can be carried out remotely (planning, writing, literature review, remote data collection, data analysis, remote meetings, or online learning such as coding, statistics, etc.) should continue. Be sure lab members are well equipped to work remotely (VPN, Duo, etc.). Resources for formulating plans and tools for laboratories and/or research groups to continue work remotely for the coming days/weeks will be posted to this website. Included will be educational opportunities and other resources to enhance researching remotely as well as links to other sites across campus that have relevant information regarding COVID-19 responses.
  • Dry/office research should be conducted remotely as much as possible.
  • Staff, post/pre-doctoral fellows and other employees are permitted on premises to conduct essential functions at this time. Investigators should designate 1-2 people for conducting essential work. Consider those personnel that can manage multiple tasks involving equipment, gas or cryogen monitoring/services, high-end instrumentation, incubators, etc. When selecting key personnel, labs should consider those whose commute does not depend on public transportation. Any potentially hazardous operations will require at least two trained and qualified persons be present.
  • Any staff, post/pre-doctoral fellows and other employees who are not comfortable being charged with essential research duties are encouraged to contact the College of Medicine Office of Research confidentially to resolve the situation.

Contingency planning

  • For now research space and resources are available for essential work. From national trends, it may be that in the coming days they are not. In addition, we may need to close core facilities or radically curtail their activity even below our target now. 
  • Investigators should develop a contingency plan in which they can shut down their lab completely and find the absolute minimal tasks that would need to be done in an emergency. Lets prepare for the worst and hope for the best.

Building access

  • Building access is restricted and door status will replicate that of nights and weekends. Interior public corridors through College of Medicine buildings will be open. Occupants should use their badges for entry.
  • Ensure that personnel conducting essential functions have their badge or make arrangements via email with the badge office to get a replacement.
  • The hours of access between UIHC and COM buildings has changed at the 1st floor MRC/GH doors. Access is available from 7:00 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. M-F. 
  • Also, with fewer people in buildings, we may be more susceptible to theft. Take extra precautions to secure equipment, computers, and high-risk materials (radioactive, biohazards, chemicals). Finally, notify colleagues of your schedule when working alone in COM research spaces. 

Deliveries

  • Package deliveries will continue as normal with FedEx and UPS deliveries at both BSB and MEB loading docks. For outgoing shipments, please take packages to one of the two dock areas for carrier pick-up. 
  • Gas cylinder deliveries by Praxair will continue, however, their procedure and schedule will be modified. We strongly encourage laboratories not to hoard gas. Please return unused tanks and order new ones with foresight. 

Animal research

  • Please view this website for the most up-to-date information from the Office of Animal Research (OAR). 
  • All animal studies must be curtailed so OAR can maintain essential services. Any exception to these new restrictions must be approved by the Office of Research and OAR. Investigators are asked to designate the minimum number of people in their lab to attend to animals. 
  • Contact the mouse Genome Editing Core for information and scheduling of cryo-preservation of mouse lines. 

Human subjects research


Donations

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, UI Hospitals & Clinics is in critical need of the following items.

Clinical testing supplies: specific formats of swabs, DNA/RNA extraction, & volunteers for lab work. Please see https://research.uiowa.edu/impact/news/solicitation-supplies-clinical-laboratory-testing for specifics.

Personal protective equipment (PPE): If you are able to donate any of these items, please complete a donation form and bring a copy with your donation for drop-off at MEB loading dock (Robert/Dave/Mark), BSB loading dock (Brent) or at Biochemistry Stores on 4th floor BSB.

  • N95 Masks
  • Isolation/surgeon masks
  • Face masks with attached eye shield
  • Full face shields
  • Isolation gowns

Funding opportunities

National Institutes of Health

The NIH has a funding mechanism available during times of urgent need and several NIH Institutes and Centers (“IC’s”) have put out a Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) for COVID-19 research specifically.  This funding mechanism, called an Urgent Competitive Revision for Research, allows researchers who currently are funded by any of the participating IC’s to submit a proposal directed to the research objectives of the NOSI and the IC.  A competitive revision is defined as “a request for additional funds during a current project period to support new or additional activities that are not identified in the current award. This request reflects an expansion of the scope of the grant-approved activities.”

Here is a table of specific funding opportunities currently available:

Funding opportunities specific to COVID-19

NOT-AI-20-030

Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) regarding the Availability of Urgent Competitive Revisions for Research on the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV)

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS)

NOT-HL-20-757

Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Availability of Administrative Supplements and Revision Supplements on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)

National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)

NOT-DA-20-047

Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) regarding the Availability of Administrative Supplements and Urgent Competitive Revisions for Research on the 2019 Novel Coronavirus

National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)

Please be sure to read all of the program announcement and the NOSI as they differ in due dates and submission information depending on the IC. Let the COM Office of Research know if there are any questions.

Vilcek Foundation

The Vilcek Foundation is currently seeking applicants for the 2021 Vilcek Prizes for Creative Promise in Biomedical Science. We are a nonprofit foundation dedicated to raising awareness of immigrant contributions to the arts and sciences in the United States.

From now until June 10, 2020, 5pm EST, we are accepting applications from foreign-born scientists age 38-and-under. Three winners will each receive a $50,000 unrestricted cash prize and be honored at an awards ceremony in New York City in April 2021.

Please help share this opportunity with your network of biomedical researchers and colleagues at University of Iowa Carver College of Medicine.

The press release, and full eligibility requirements and the online application can be found on www.vilcek.org. Questions should be directed to (212) 472-2500 or creativepromise@vilcek.org.


Grant sponsors

NIH guidelines for COVID-19

  • Peer Review: Peer-review process and study sections will proceed as scheduled in an online format. They will not meet face-to-face.
  • Application Revisions: If any information in a submitted application needs to be revised in light of COVID-19, revised materials can be provided as additional post submission materials up to 14 days prior to the start of the review meeting. (One page max in a letter of explanation - in the case of the Wellstone Center, it would probably be one page per project/core).
  • Lab Closures: If research labs cannot be maintained due to institutional closures, the first step is to assess if insurance will cover the losses. Once determined, if costs are not covered by insurance, recipients may request supplemental support to recover NIH-funded resources by contacting the funding IC.
  • Research Delays: Contact the IC to discuss any delays in research progress due to COVID-19 (e.g. lower enrollment numbers, impacts of travel restrictions, delays in IRB approvals, delays due to making alternative arrangements for remote research participation, lab ramp down, staffing issues).
  • Late Applications: Late applications are allowed without prior approval if institutions are closed, research personnel are in quarantine, research personnel are involuntarily absent, or institutions are otherwise unable to submit proposals due to COVID-19. A cover letter is required to explain the delay. Approval of late applications will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis once received. If the FOA has expired, the institution should contact NIH to make arrangements to submit. Institutions should inform NIH of plans to submit at least 2 working days prior to the planned submission date.
  • Late Reports: Late progress reports, financial reports, final reports and inventions reports will be accepted. If a report will be late, NIH asks that the institution inform them in advance. Additional funds will not be released until the required reports are received.
  • Additional Funding: NIH plans to offer administrative supplements to cover unanticipated costs associated with COVID19 measures. Funding announcements will be forthcoming.
  • Personnel: If the UI allows us to do so, we can still charge salaries and trainee stipends to NIH grants when no work is being performed as a result of COVID-19. UI HR policies are evolving, so this needs to be monitored. NIH should be informed and documentation from the UI provided on personnel policies, impacts of COVID-19 and how long we expect the institution will be impacted.
  • Travel Expenses: Non-refundable costs associated with grant-related travel that has been cancelled due to COVID-19 may be charged to the NIH award if they would have otherwise been allowable. If vouchers have been granted for any of the travel expenses affected by COVID-19, recipients are required to use the vouchers and may not request additional support.   
  • Conference Expenses: Non-refundable costs associated with NIH supported meetings and conferences affected by COVID-19 are allowable and may be requested as an administrative supplement to the appropriate funding IC.
  • Human Subjects: There are additional announcements which I still need to review. The basics are that we shouldn’t continue any in person human subjects research unless it is necessary for the health of the patient.
  • Animal Research: Flexibilities are being put in place, to be managed by each institution’s IACUC and Office of Animal Research. There is an NIH webinar for institutional leaders implementing the animal care plan tomorrow.

Full FAQ available here


Core facilities

Our core facilities will be working to help complete essential tasks and experiments. However, they will be reducing their capacity and staffing. Do not overburden them. Only enlist their help to finish critical experiments. Many will coordinate work with you by appointment and work may be subject to approval by the COM Office of Research. Core-specific updates will be available as we proceed. 

  • Flow Cytometry Core Facility: The Facility will remain open but will be down to one staff member per day to help prevent spreading COVID-19. As such, we will reduce operations to the Aria five laser, 14 channels (48 EMRB) and will encourage only one user to be in the analysis instrumentation room (58 EMRB) and in the analysis room (42 EMRB) at a time. Reservation on the Aria will proceed as usual. To reserve any instrument in the analysis instrumentation room (58 EMRB) please reserve time though the Violet LSR in the reservation system. You may use any instrument, but this will limit reservation to one person per time slot in that room. Please note what instrument you will be running on in the comments section of your reservation. 24/7 access will still be available for those who have been trained on both the instrument and servicing the fluidics. After-hour access can be requested through Heath Vignes (heath-vignes@uiowa.edu). The analysis room (42 EMRB) will still be available on a first come first serve basis. We ask that you respect each other and limit use to one person at a time. Please be considerate of others and reserve only the time you need.

    Staff will be available in a limited capacity to answer questions and provide help on the analysis instruments. Their primary task will be to maintain the operation of the sorters. Email will be checked regularly and will be the preferred way to correspond.

    Analysis instruments will still be calibrated daily to ensure data acquisition is still optimal.

  • Research Stores: Biochemistry and molecular biology stores will remain open. The routine for filling and signing for orders, as well as store hours will be altered in the coming days.
     
  • IIHG Genomics: The IIHG Genomics Division is limiting access to the public areas of its laboratory and the doors will be locked during business hours. As a result, samples should be submitted by placing them in the refrigerator in the hallway or by appointment.

Sample submission:

  • Place samples for Sanger Sequencing, Real-time PCR, DNA Bioanalysis, and mycoplasma testing in the refrigerator on the appropriate rack.
  • Place the sample submission sheets for Sanger Sequencing, Bioanalysis (on-line) and mycoplasma testing in the sample submission box.
  • Wrap the sample submission sheet around the plate for Real time PCR submissions.
  • Contact the Genomics Division at 335-7928, 335-6736, or 335-7251 to submit samples for RNA analysis.

Use of Self-Service Instrumentation (e.g. nanodrop, qubit, ddPCR, etc.):

  • Email or call the appropriate person at the Genomics Division to arrange for a time to use the instrumentation.
  • You will be asked to wash your hands before you begin and put on gloves prior to using the equipment.
  • Please respect Social Distance Recommendations and maintain a 6 foot distance between yourself and the core personnel.
  • BRING YOUR OWN GLOVES!!!
  • Central Microscopy: The Central Microscopy Research Core in EMRB will be available for critical experiments by appointment only.
    • Please request access from Randy Nessler (email link) via email 48 hrs in advance.
    • Operating hours are 9am-5pm M-F.
    • No more than two people will be allowed in the facility at one time and no more than one person will be allowed in an instrument room at a time.
    • Card access will be granted only for your reservation time slot • Training of new people and procedures is currently suspended.
    • Reserving time in the facility is for trained users only, who can work indpendently.  Real-time, on-line help may be available by arranging with the facility.
    • A facility staff will be nearby if work entails anything corrosive, or potentially dangerous.

Working remotely

Resources

Software licenses for home use

  • Lasergene - Download
  • SnapGene - Download 
    Use: "Stay safe" for the group name. License expires on May 16. 
  • Graphpad Prism - Download
    Full-featured free trial expires after 30 days.

Forwarding office/lab phones

Calls can be forwarded to a campus, local, or long distance number.  Call forward all (CFA) and call forward/busy-no answer (CFBNA) can be active at the same time. CFA will override CFBNA. When CFA is canceled, CFBNA will still be in affect.

If using a local or long distance number as the call forward number, the phone number entered will need to be preceded with the number 9 so the call will transfer off campus.

To forward all calls (CFA): All calls will immediately transfer to another phone line.

  • Lift handset, hear dial tone.
  • Dial *7, hear broken dial tone.
  • Dial number to which calls are to be forwarded; hear high-pitched confirmation tone.
  • Replace handset. 
    With each incoming call, the telephone will ring a half-ring as a reminder that this feature has been set before transferring to the receiving phone number. 

To cancel CFA:

  • Lift handset; hear dial tone.
  • Dial #7; hear high-pitched confirmation tone.
  • Replace handset.

To set call forward/busy-no answer (CFBNA): Calls will forward immediately if the phone line is busy or after three rings if not answered. If the receiving phone line is busy, the office/lab phone will continue to ring.

  • Lift handset; hear dial tone.
  • Dial *8; hear broken dial tone.
  • Dial number to which calls are to be forwarded; hear high-pitched confirmation tone.
  • Replace handset.

To cancel CFBNA:

  • Lift handset; hear dial tone.
  • Dial #8; hear high-pitched confirmaton tone.
  • Replace handset.

Online learning

Monday, April 6: 

10:00-11:00am - Cancer Biology Seminar
"Anti-CD20 therapy and NK cell activation" by Zhaoming Wang
"Mechanoadaptation to fluid shear stress enhances survival of circulating tumor cells and metastatic potential" by Devon Moose
Zoom link provided by request.

11:30-12:30pm - Topics in Radiation and Cancer Biology Journal Club
Presenter: Yousuf Ali
Paper: Duman C, Yaqubi K, Hoffmann A, Acikgöz AA, Korshunov A, Bendszus M, Herold-Mende C, Liu HK, Alfonso J. "Acyl-CoA-Binding Protein Drives Glioblastoma Tumorigenesis by Sustaining Fatty Acid Oxidation." Cell Metab. 2019 Aug 6;30(2):274-289.e5. Epub 2019 May 2. PMID: 31056285. doi: 10.1016/j.cmet.2019.04.004.
Zoom link provided by request.

12:00-1:00pm - Immunology Program Student Seminar
""Polyanhydride-based RSV nanoparticle vaccine establishes lasting protection mediated by humoral and cellular immune responses" by Laura Stephens
Zoom link provided by request.

1:00-2:00pm - Frontiers in Obesity, Diabetes and Metabolism Seminar
“TCA cycle flux links lipid catabolism to ER protein folding: A novel bidirectional pathway of interorganellar communication” by Dr. Tom Rutkowski, Associate Professor of Anatomy and Cell Biology
Zoom link provided by request.

 

Tuesday, April 7, 2020:

9:00-10:00am - Molecular Medicine Seminar (revised 4/6/20)
"Mitochondrial pyruvate carrier (MPC) loss leads to metabolic reprogramming to increase aspartate synthesis for cancer growth" by Jane Buchanan
"Molecular changes of the Choriocapillaris with Age" by Andrew Voight
Zoom link provided by request

9:00-10:00am - Neuroscience Thesis Defense Seminar
"The Impact of Specific Cognitive Impairments on the Capacity to Consent to Research" by Katrina Okerstrom-Jezewski
Zoom link provided by request.

 

Wednesday, April 8, 2020:

10:30-11:30am - Biochemistry Thesis Defense Seminar
“Regulatory mechanisms of the S.aureus SrrAB two-component system” by Nitija Tiwari
Zoom link provided by request.

1:00-2:00pm - Genetics Thesis Defense Seminar
“Transcriptomic and pathway analyses of cystic fibrosis lung disease identify candidate therapeutic targets and small molecules” by Matt Strub
Zoom link provided by request.

 

Thursday, April 9, 2020:

11:30-12:30pm - Free Radical & Radiation Biology Seminar
"Redox-based MR imaging: monitoring and modulating intratumoral iron using pharmacological ascorbate and iron oxide nanoparticles" by Mike Petronek
Zoom link provided by request.

12:30-1:30pm - Neuroscience and Pharmacology Workshop
“Nucleolar Protein Aggregation and Phase Separation in Xenopus laevis Oocytes” by Emily Lavering
"The Protective Effects of Testosterone Against Widespread Muscle Pain" by Joseph Lesnak
Zoom link provided by request.

 

Friday, April 10, 2020:

No zoom events scheduled.

 

Other learning opportunities

Articles:

Journal Clubs:

  • Stem Cells and Neurodevelopment, First Friday of every month, 1:00-2:00pm
  • Topics in Radiation and Cancer Biology, Every other Monday at 11:30am 
  • Topics in Free Radical Biology and Medicine, Every other Monday at 11:30am

Videos: 

Webinars:

  • RStudio webinar collection
    This URL has a collection of webinars on programming and data analysis in R geared to all levels. Beginners in R might consider the webinar "A gentle introduction to tidy statistics in R".
  • R Programming A-Z™: R For Data Science With Real Exercises! (added 4/6/20)
    Learn Programming In R And R Studio. Data Analytics, Data Science, Statistical Analysis, Packages, Functions, GGPlot2
  • LinkedIn Learning (added 4/6/20)
    R classes & more.  Log into Self Service -> My Career -> Learning and Development ->LinkedIn Learning. You will then need to log into the LinkedIn learning site. 
  • New England BioLabs (NEB) Webinar Series 
    Hear from NEB scientists as they discuss of a wide range of molecular biology topics and techniques, such as the latest cloning and DNA assembly, PCR and qPCR, sample preparation for next generation sequencing, and much more.
  • The Jackson Laboratory (JAX) Online MiniCourses
    Offers access to online modules enabling learners to engage online at any time and at their own pace, search for specific content, document progress through digital badges, and bundle courses into certificates to demonstrate a deeper knowledge of key topics related to mouse genetics.
  • MIT Computational Courses (added 4/6/20)
    Offers a variety of introductory programming courses. 

Websites:

  • National Neuroscience Curriculum Initiative 
    Interactive web-based instruction, expert videos, and articles of neuroscience relevant to psychiatry
  • G2C Online
    Interactive website with neuroscience information at multiple levels including high yield brief articles and expert videos by Cold Spring Harbor

 


Volunteering

Many have asked where they can help. You neither have to sit back nor feel powerless during this crisis. 

  • Talk with your supervisor: If your role allows, please volunteer to take on work that is more critical to the university’s functions at this time. A volunteer sign-up system is now available once you log into Employee Self Service.
  • Do you know a healthcare provider?  Volunteer to care for pets, run errands, or more. 
  • Community organizations may also be seeking volunteer assistance. If you know of an organization requesting assistance, please notify com-research@uiowa.edu for addition to the list. 
  • Can you sew?  Some healthcare centers are asking community members to sew masks. Please note they generally require a specific pattern and materials be used.