Texas Tech University

COVID-19 Guidelines for Researchers

The Office of Research and Innovation continues to work with the campus leadership and community to establish guidance specific to research operations. The following information is intended to assist the campus research community in limiting the impact and potential risk associated with COVID-19. Please check back for updates or contact OR&I with any questions at research.innovation@ttu.edu.

For more information on the university's updates, please visit the Texas Tech University COVID-19 page. For more information on academic resources, please visit the Office of the Provost's page. 

Last update: April 3, 10:00 a.m.

 

Click each agency for a full list of updates. 

✔ Agency temporarily adjusted terms and conditions
X Agency has not temporarily adjusted standard terms and conditions or has not issued updated guidance
✔X Agency has adjusted some but not all conditions

Agency Possible deadline flexibility Waiver for Notice of Funding Opportunities (NOFOs) Publication No-cost extensions on expiring awards Abbreviated continuation requests Allowability of salaries and other project activities Allowability of costs not normally chargeable to awards (ex: non-refundable travel costs) Prior approval requirement waivers Exemption of certain procurement requirement Extension of financial and other reporting Extension of closeout Pre-award Costs
 NSF  N/A  X ✔  ✔  ✔ X  
NIH            ✔ X   
 DOD - BR/RD            ✔  
 DOD-AFOSR      ✔                
 DOE  ✔X  ✔X ✔X  ✔X  ✔X   ✔X  
 DHHS  ✔    ✔X  ✔X ✔X   ✔  ✔X  
 FDA         ✔X     ✔X    
 NASA  ✔  ✔X  ✔X  ✔X ✔X   X  
USDA -NIFA   ✔X  ✔X  X ✔X   √  
 NEH ✔X    ✔X  ✔      √  √  
Welch                  

 

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I donate PPE to help with the shortage of gloves and masks in Lubbock?

One of the challenges we are seeing is a growing shortage of gloves and masks needed by health care providers across the City of Lubbock.

Some have critical maintenance activity going on in your laboratories with animals, cell cultures, and longitudinal data collection. If you do, you will need the PPE in your laboratories. But some laboratories will be relatively idle for the next few weeks or months. For those who have PPE in your laboratory, specifically disposable gloves and N-95 face masks, we want to make an appeal for you to donate these materials to a campus-wide repository we can use to help resupply healthcare providers. The university will keep track of these donations, and we will ensure that your laboratory is re-stocked with the donated materials once this crisis is over.

If you can donate PPE to this effort, please fill out this spreadsheet with the following information and return it to Joseph Heppert at joseph.heppert@ttu.edu: Your name and contact information, the building and room numbers of laboratories that contain gloves and N-95 masks, the approximate amount of the items, and the location of the items in the laboratory.

We will have a crew from Safety and the Office of Research & Innovation come around and collect the materials you indicate, and they will record the actual number of boxes of supplies taken. (The supplies should be in spaces that it is actually appropriate for Safety to enter). We plan to create a storage area in the Hub from which HSC will advise us on the distribution of materials.

Will campus building access be modified?

Effective Monday, March 23, most facilities on campus will move to a single-entrance policy with only one door per building unlocked during business hours. As a note, some facilities will remain locked down with card and/or key access as allowed through prior authorization.

For researchers needing access to maintain critical research systems – cryogenic storage and cryogenic instrument maintenance, animal husbandry, maintenance of experimental plant species, maintenance of cell lines, and access to spaces performing other mission-critical continuing on-campus experiments (those approved by the Vice President for Research's Office) – please ensure that you have appropriate key/keycard access to the building where these functions will be conducted. We ask you to ensure that researchers are never alone on campus completing ANY tasks that represent even a modest risk to health and safety. We also ask that you instruct key individuals how to maintain appropriate social distancing while they cooperate on these activities. We are highly supportive of individuals who need to attend to critical activities on campus, but we want you and your colleagues to emphasize a need for safety.

For more information, including a map of accessible doors, please see the original memo from Noel Sloan, Chief Financial Officer and Vice President for Administration & Finance.

May I still conduct research that is done online or can be done remotely?

Yes. Anything that can be done from home electronically can be carried on. Part of the reason we suggest that teams not only secure their data, but prepare it for remote access, is that we can all analyze data, write and submit papers, prepare proposals, and think about new studies at home, just as we can at work.

Can any types of human subject data collection continue?

Human subject data collection involving a face-to-face interaction, intervention, or public observation must stop immediately. Human subject data collection involving the following procedures may continue:

  • Online surveys
  • Virtual interviews
  • Virtual focus groups
  • Online observations/interventions

The IRB will continue to review protocols. If you have modifications to your IRB that would allow for virtual or online data collection, we will review those modifications as quickly as possible.

Researchers need to inform participants that data collection involving face-to-face interactions and interventions will be postponed until the University has lifted COVID-19 restrictions.

For any specific questions regarding research, please contact CassiDe Street at casside.street@ttu.edu.

May I still post requests for research participants on TechAnnounce?

To avoid confusion in the university community, TechAnnounce messages that recruit research participants will not be posted until April 1, 2020.

Beginning April 1, any research participant requests that involve online or remote research that does not require face-to-face contact can be advertised through TechAnnounce. Any announcements requesting face-to-face contact will be removed.

May I continue to work on export controlled or sensitive research projects remotely?

No. It is not appropriate to remotely conduct export controlled or sensitive research projects or projects that operate under a formal data management plan with our Office of Export Controls. Unless specific security protocols have been previously instituted in cooperation with TTU IT and our Export Controls officers, equipment used in such projects and data collected under such projects should not be taken off campus, but should remain in secured locations in the laboratories and offices identified in the data management plans. Please contact the Office of Export and Security Compliance at exports.vpr@ttu.edu with any questions about this issue.

Are there guidelines for field-research travel?

Are grant or writing resources still available?

Yes. The Office or Research Development and Communications can offer assistance with proposal development, SCAN sessions, and more remotely. You can contact ord.vpr@ttu.edu for more information.

The Office of Research Services will operate on a normal schedule. Staff will be available by phone and email.Researchers should ensure proposals are submitted timely to ORS – at least 3 business days in advance of the deadline. Proposals that include cost share, subcontracts and non-standard budgets (i.e. DOD, DOE) must be submitted to ORS at least 5 business days in advance of the deadline.

The Division of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion has compiled a list of writing resources for faculty, including writing challenges, online communities, virtual happy hours for TTU faculty, and online writing consultations with the University Writing Center.

Can I request an exemption to the work-at-home requirement for research studies?

Dear Colleagues,

I have noticed some developing pressure to allow exceptions to the continuation of on campus research. As I have pointed out over the past several weeks, our objective is to stop the progression of the virus through our students, staff, and faculty by minimizing our on-campus footprint, and wherever possible shifting on-site personnel to work-from-home status. Having researchers on campus not only represents a risk to them, it also presents a risk to campus maintenance and security personnel who support them, and a risk to ALL of their families.

I initially offered opportunities to request exemptions to the work-at-home requirement for research studies that 1) required critical maintenance for living organisms, and instruments and storage systems requiring cryogens, and 2) required the completion of longitudinal data collections that would otherwise invalidate critical data that was previously collected. Through case-by-case approval, those exemptions remain in place.

But, I want to illustrate how concerning the current situation has become. Over the past two days, I have had one service center that was supporting a study with an approved exemption VOLUNTARILY decide to close because the director felt there was an ongoing risk to their staff, the investigators they were serving, and the relatively small number of subjects remaining in their study. After this announcement, I received an email from the PI leading the study expressing his understanding, and concurring with the decision to temporarily shutter the service center.

We must minimize exposure to this threat. That will accelerate everyone's ability to get past this situation and back to on-campus research.

Going forward, I want investigators to use the following steps to obtain any further exemptions for on-campus research studies:

  1. Submit a written request for the exemption, explaining not only why it is imperative that the on-campus research (or maintenance function) continue, but how it will be conducted with appropriate laboratory safety considerations, using minimal staff, minimizing on-campus time, and including appropriate social distancing.
  2. Send these requests to me, and to the academic Dean(s) of the Colleges involved in the research activity. If the activity falls under OR&I direction, simply send the request to me.
  3. The Dean(s) will advise me on their perception of the appropriateness of the request.
  4. I will confer with the Dean(s) or, as necessary, organize a discussion among the Dean(s) and the PI(s)/Director requesting the exemption.
  5. Following this process, I will issue a determination about the appropriateness of the request.

I want to follow up by saying how proud I am that TTU faculty have taken this difficult situation in stride over the past few weeks. Your understanding of the inherent risks to our community, and your willingness to make accommodations to address these threats have been inspiring. I ask for your continued patience and cooperation as we continue to work through situations that are often complicated and challenging.

Once again, many thanks, and my best wishes for you and your family.

Sincerely,

Joe Heppert

TTU Vice President for Research and Innovation

More Information

Modified Work Policy - Effect on Research

Dear Colleagues,

Due to the developing emergency associated with the spread of COVID-19, the President has asked us to switch into a work remotely mode. Effective immediately, with very few exceptions, TTU researchers must begin working from home.

Principal Investigators and other research leaders must take the following steps:

  • Suspend all new experiments and data collection.
  • Where possible, bring all existing experiments and studies to a safe conclusion.
  • Suspend ordering of experimental animals, biological samples, and research supplies, except those required to sustain current animal and plant populations, and maintain appropriate laboratory safety.
  • Secure research data, transfer data to storage, and arrange for members of your group to have remote access to data.
  • Identify key laboratory personnel who will maintain necessary laboratory functions, and share contact lists with your entire group to ensure communication with laboratory personnel.
  • Identify critical laboratory functions that cannot be left unattended.
  • Ensure that key personnel maintain appropriate social distancing while they are performing critical laboratory functions.

Permissible research activities:

  • Critical human subjects research involving immediate health and welfare of the subjects, though face-to-face clinical activity not involving the administration of drugs or use of monitoring devices should be shifted to remote contact wherever possible. Non-critical human subjects research must be suspended.
  • Critical laboratory research involving:
    • Maintenance of living organisms—including plants and animals.
    • Ongoing live animal studies that involve longitudinal data collection.
    • Long-term medical research involving the timely processing of samples.
    • Tissue culture lines that require maintenance, until such time as they can be securely stored.
    • Maintenance of instruments and storage systems that require cryogens.

Non-critical research projects are not allowed:

  • Experiments that can be paused or suspended without severe long-term impacts must be stopped.
  • No new short-term or long-term experiments should be started until further notice.

Designated research staff

  • Each laboratory may designate very limited number of key laboratory personnel to conduct critical functions or complete permissible research activities.
  • These key laboratory individuals should spend minimal time in research laboratories, and, while in laboratories with any other researchers, should maintain appropriate social distancing.
  • Any key laboratory personnel not feeling well should stay at home and notify their supervisor of the situation.

Grant submission and necessary accounting functions, and intellectual property disclosure and patent filings

  • TTU grant personnel will be working remotely to support grant submissions and necessary accounting functions, as well as intellectual property disclosure and patent filings. Please consult the web site for the Office of Research Services, Accounting Services, and the Office of Research Commercialization for information on access. Generally, you should be able to contact team members in these offices by email.

I know this relatively sudden development is highly disorienting. I must stress that looking after the welfare of our students, staff, researchers, and faculty is a primary consideration that will drive decision-making in the coming weeks. Obviously, my office deeply cares about research, and we will work with you to do all we can to sustain all of your activities in planning, proposal writing, publication, and reporting we can during this situation.

We ask you to be patient as we outline measures to be taken in the coming days. Please refer questions to department chairs and ask the chairs to contact my office for clarification.

Sincerely,

Joe Heppert
TTU Vice President for Research and Innovation

Events

Events scheduled to be held on campus through April 3 will be canceled or moved online. Please check back for changes to the events schedule.

Broader Impacts Workshop Date Changes

April 29th from 2:00-4:00, TLPDC 151
April 30th from 1:30-3:30, TLPDC 151

*Both events will offer Skype for Business as an option, allowing participants to be interactive during the workshop.

Research-Related Operations in the Event of Reduced Staffing or Campus Closure

Office of Research Services

ORS will operate on a normal schedule. Staff may need to work remotely, but will be available by phone and email. Due to the possibility of reduced staffing, researchers need to ensure their proposals are submitted timely to ORS – at least 3 business days in advance of the deadline. Proposals that include cost share, subcontracts and non-standard budgets (i.e. DOD, DOE) must be submitted to ORS at least 5 business days in advance of the deadline.

Any F&A Waiver requests or requests for cost share (other than in-kind) must be submitted at least 10 business days prior to the proposal deadline to all of the following OR&I personnel:

Dr. Joseph Heppert, Vice President for Research
Dr. Abigail Swingen, Associate Vice President for Research
Dr. David Weindorf, Associate Vice President for Research
Amy Cook, Assistant Vice President – Office of Research Services

Accounting Services

AS will operate on a normal schedule. In the event staff is required to work remotely, they will be available via phone, email, skype and MS Teams. If restrictions or quarantine situations cause researchers to become unable to complete and submit required reports (i.e.progress/technical reports, invention/patent reports, etc.) by the scheduled due date, they should promptly contact the agency assigned program officer and include ORS/AS on the communication. Contact your assigned Grant Specialist for questions regarding allowability of expenses specifically related to COVID-19.

Responsible Research and Safety-Related Operations in the Event of Reduced Staffing or Campus Closure

If a campus closure is issued, the following contingency plan will be implemented to support research across the university. The safety and health of our faculty, staff, students and animals will remain our highest priority.

Environmental Health & Safety

The Department of Environmental Health & Safety wants to communicate some possible impacts of the current national spread of the novel coronavirus. If the virus were to establish a foothold in the Lubbock community, TTU could experience significant disruptions to ongoing research. We encourage you to evaluate a couple of possible scenarios.

First, if conditions experienced on other university campuses eventually occur at TTU, university leadership or local public health authorities might restrict access of your research team to your research laboratories and common research facilities for a significant period of time.

Second, a less extreme situation still might warrant restrictions on your team's ability to access TTU research facilities. This situation could also carry on over a period of time.

Third, if either of these situations occurs, you and your team will need clear strategies to, if necessary, pause ongoing research safely. We ask that you review and update your laboratory's Work Area Safety Plan (WASP) to ensure that this plan covers safe shutdown strategies. Your plan should include methods for communicating with members of your research group, methods to properly pause research activities, and methods to safely secure any hazardous materials in a manner that would not require daily monitoring.

Finally, we recommend that researchers carry forward with current research activities, but give careful consideration before purchasing large stocks of perishable supplies to start new projects or to begin conducting the next phase of existing projects. We urge lead investigators to monitor the information about coronavirus spread and use that information to inform the timing of new projects.

Please contact the Department of Environmental Health & Safety with questions regarding emergency planning and safely suspending research operations.
Thank you for all you do to support robust research and scholarship at TTU. Please feel free to contact Joseph Heppert and/or Alice Young with any questions about this memo. 

Human Subject Research

The IRB will continue to review protocols. If you have modifications to your IRB that would allow for social distancing, such as Skype in place of in-person interviews, we will review those modifications as quickly as possible. If you still need to do face-to-face interactions, please follow the immediate actions listed above. For any specific questions, please contact CassiDe Street at casside.street@ttu.edu

Animal Care

The Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee and TTU Animal Care Services wants to communicate several important points to you as Principal Investigators using research/teaching animals.

First, according to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), no normal pet animals or typical research animals in the United States have been identified with the coronavirus, and there is no evidence that dogs or other pets can contract or spread COVID-19. At this time, experts have not expressed concern about transmission to or from animals. We currently recommend normal procedures in working with TTU experimental animals.

Second, it is a fact that the spread of the virus has caused disruptions in the research and teaching environment on other university campuses. IF this situation were to occur at TTU, it is unclear whether animal care staff and TTU researchers will be able to access animal research facilities in the way we normally do.

Third, researchers should carry forward with existing animal experiments according to their current plans.

Fourth, we urge research leaders to be extremely thoughtful about whether to purchase large numbers of animals for starting new set of studies, even if these studies are associated with ongoing projects. We urge lead investigators to wait for a couple of weeks before gearing up for or starting any large or long-term studies in order to monitor the progress of the virus spread around the country. We do not want to create a situation where large numbers of animals and resources are wasted because neither TTU researchers nor TTU animal care staff can be on-campus to care for the animals or complete longitudinal studies.

Please feel free to consult with Dr. Joseph Heppert, the TTU Institutional Official for Animal Care and Use with any questions about this memo.

Office of Research Development and Communications

ORDC will operate on a normal schedule. Staff may need to work remotely but will be available by phone and email.

Guidance from Federal, State and Private Sponsors

American Heart Association

CPRIT

Department of Defense

Department of Defense - Air Force Office of Scientific Research

Department of Energy

Department of Health and Human Services

Department of State

Environmental Protection Agency

Food and Drug Administration

NASA

National Endowment for the Arts

National Institutes of Health

National Science Foundation

Office of Management and Budget

Administrative Relief for Recipients and Applicants of Federal Financial Assistance Directly Impacted by COVID-19. March 9, 2020

Office of Naval Research 

USDA - NIFA

Funding Opportunities Related to COVID-19

American Heart Association

Biomedical Advanced Research & Development Authority

Centers for Disease Control

  • Centers for Disease Control COVID-19 Broad Agency Announcement
    THIS IS AN IMMEDIATE CALL FOR WHITE PAPERS. Prior to submission of a white paper, offerors are strongly encouraged to contact the CDC BAA technical point of contact for the research topic/subtopic of interest. White papers must be received electronically by 3:00PM EST on March 25, 2020 in order to be considered for further evaluation.

Department of Defense

Department of Energy

National Institute for Health Research

  • Travel and Subsistence Funding to Support LMIC Engagement During the COVID-19 Outbreak
    This scheme provides travel and subsistence funding to support delivery of technical expertise in the global response to Covid-19. This service is not delivered to, or on behalf of, the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC)/the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and does not constitute a contractual or service agreement, employer/employee or agent/principal relationship between any institution, body or person and the DHSC/NIHR.

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases

  • Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) Regarding the Availability of Urgent Competitive Revisions for Research on the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV) (NOT-AI-20-030) (February 6, 2020)
    The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and the National Institute of General Medical Sciences are issuing this NOSI to highlight the urgent need for research on the 2019 novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV). NIAID is particularly interested in projects focusing on viral natural history, pathogenicity, transmission, as well as projects developing medical countermeasures and suitable animal models for pre-clinical testing of vaccines and therapeutics against 2019-nCoV. NIGMS is specifically interested in incorporation of data from the 2019-nCoV into ongoing research efforts to develop predictive models for the spread of Coronaviruses and related pathogens.
  • 2020 NIAID Omnibus Broad Agency Announcement
    NIAID 2020 OMNIBUS BROAD AGENCY ANNOUNCEMENT (BAA) NO. HHS-NIH-NIAID-BAA2020-1 contains five (5) distinct Research Areas, each with a specified closing date and time.

National Institutes of Health

National Science Foundation

  • Dear Colleague Letter on the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
    This Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) complements a separate National Science Foundation (NSF) DCL (NSF 20-052) that referred to the emergence of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) and expressed NSF's interest in accepting proposals to conduct non-medical, non-clinical-care research that can be used immediately to better understand how to model and understand the spread of COVID-19; to inform and educate about the science of virus transmission and prevention; and to encourage the development of processes and actions to address this global challenge.
  • Dear Colleague Letter: Provisioning Advanced Cyberinfrastructure to Further Research on the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
    Before submitting a RAPID proposal or supplemental funding request in response to this DCL, investigators must first contact one of the cognizant OAC program officers listed.
    Through this DCL, the Office of Advanced Cyberinfrastructure (OAC) within the Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering is inviting RAPID proposals and supplemental funding requests to existing awards that address COVID-19 challenges through data and/or software infrastructure development activities. Such activities would be funded by the Computational and Data-Enabled Science and Engineering (CDS&E) program or the Cyberinfrastructure for Sustained Scientific Innovation (CSSI) program.
  • DCL: Request for SBIR/STTR Phase I Proposals Addressing COVID-19
    The Division of Innovation and Industrial Partnerships (IIP) of the Engineering Directorate invites US-based small businesses to submit Phase I proposals focused on the development and deployment of new technologies, products, processes, and services with the potential to positively impact the nation's and world's ability to respond to the COVID-19 crisis. Areas of research that might be considered include, but are not limited to: artificial intelligence, digital health, diagnostics, distributed ledger, environmental technologies, medical devices, pharmaceutical technologies, disinfection and sterilization, and filtration and separations. Interested proposers are invited to submit to the NSF Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) Phase I Program.

Office of Research & Innovation