[edited 3/24] Research Programs & Lab Operations

Is there a call for 3D printers to help produce respirators?

COVID-19 related fabrication is being coordinated by James Weaver, james.weaver@wyss.harvard.edu 


Guidance from the dean indicates that we should wear gloves while in the lab. While we have some gloves on hand, we buy them on an as-needed basis, and of course cannot get more of them now – although our PI will hopefully be getting six boxes of size medium nitrile gloves shipped to his house from Amazon this weekend, and will bring them in to the lab. Can you please let me know if there is some sort of University backup supply of gloves and/or if you have any recommendations for sourcing them?

We recommend that researchers employ appropriate protocols. We currently expect shipping & receiving to function, please place orders as needed.


I think my team can contribute on the research front, to COVID-19 diagnostics or therapeutics. What should I do? 

First, coordinate with the broader Boston-wide consortium. Contacts are:


Diagnostics team co-leads:

Pardis Sabeti: pardis@broadinstitute.org

David Walt: dwalt@bwh.harvard.edu


Mark Namchuk: Mark_Namchuk@hms.harvard.edu

Jonathan Abraham: abraham@crystal.harvard.edu

If your idea is embraced by them then fill out and submit this form: https://projects.iq.harvard.edu/files/coronavirus/files/fas_seas_petition_for_staffing_during_research_shutdown.docx


[Updated 3/17] Who should I submit an access exception request for?  

The default assumption is that research groups and core facilities will not have any personnel in the lab.  If individuals, including PIs, will need lab access, an exception requst must be submitted.  Going forward, exception requests will be coordinated locally - PIs should contact their Department/Area Chair.  FAS centers should send requests not associated with a PIs research program to Sarah Elwell.

Can using an infrared sauna at 140 degrees Fahrenheit for 30 minutes or more help kill or lessen the affects of the Coronavirus? (or) I have been doing a red light therapy in a bed that resembles a tanning bed. It has been incredible and the health benefits have been astronomical. My question to you is the red light kills viruses. Even airborne virus is. With that being the case, can’t that help us with the coronavirus?

For questions related to the survivability of COVID-19 please refer to the resources provided by the CDC, https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prepare/prevention.html. If you are interested in research opportunities, please see this NSF site for proposals: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2020/nsf20053/nsf20053.jsp#q2 


My PI and I are not finding it easy to outline what researching remotely should look like for me. I am worried that they will penalize me later for not carrying out experiments now. Do you have tips for how we can navigate this? Does Harvard have intermediaries who can help?

We understand that working remotely poses a challenge. Restricted access is being imposed on the entire community. Please contact Seth Avakian at avakian@fas.harvard.edu & Moriah Silver at moriah_silver@harvard.edu about professional conduct issues and the concerns you’ve expressed. 


We were informed that 2-3 people could be designated to perform essential experiments and lab maintenance. Can this set of people change day-to-day or week-to-week, or does it have to be the same 2-3 individuals throughout the entire shutdown?

This will be coordinated at the department/SEAS Area level.

[Updated 3/17] For those authorized to access the lab, do they have to be accompanied by another person for safety reasons?  

Yes, but this may be able to be accomplished virtually.  Please see the new **updated** virtual buddy system guidance: https://science.fas.harvard.edu/files/division-of-science/files/virtualbuddysystem2.docx

What about the Operation Center's emergency contacts for specific instruments?  Do I need to submit access exception requests for them?

No.  Emergency contacts on file with the Operations Center for specific pieces of equipment (-80 freezers, -20 freezers, incubators, etc.) do not need an access exception.  If they are contacted by the Ops Center due to an equipment alarm/failure, they may access the lab to respond to the emergency.

Can research personnel take their office desktop computers home?

Yes, but please work with your supervisor to track serial numbers.

Can I conduct research that involves physical experimentation at home?

The Office for the Vice Provost of Research has provided the following guidance on physical experimentation at home.  

The University cannot approve the use of private residence for research purposes. Such work at home raises a number of health and safety, and potential building and fire code related concerns that are subject to routine health and safety inspections and mitigation measure at the university laboratories and cannot be verified in a residential setting. These potential hazards include but are not limited to occupancy rating of the building (e.g. residential vs. research), electrical hazard associated with the use of the equipment (e.g. personnel safety, overload of circuitry, etc.), presence of untrained individuals in the research area, etc., none of which have been assessed by university.

Remote research using computers for data driven analytics, social behavior type studies that can be conducted by audio/video conferencing, etc. is allowable.

Do you have a template for laboratory research contingency planning? 

The Environmental Health and Safety guidelines, can be found here: https://www.ehs.harvard.edu/research-and-labs-preparedness-covid-19 

If research buildings are locked, will I still be able to get it?

Yes, research buildings will be defaulting to weekend mode and will be accessible to those with swipe card access.  Only those that have decanal approval to continue care of vital research organisms or approved essential research functions should be accessing laboratories.

Can faculty, postdocs, and graduate students come to campus to use their offices after Wednesday, March 18th? 

No. We have transitioned to remote work and teaching. Decanal approval is needed for access to the building for essential personnel.

Is parking available for essential personnel such that public transportation and ride-sharing services can be avoided?

Yes, individuals who typically commute via public transit but are now hesitant to do so are now eligible for free daily parking at the 52 Oxford Street Garage, the Broadway Garage, the Soldiers Field Park Garage, and the Webster Lot in the Athletics Area.  All Harvard ID holders will have access to these garages by showing their HUID card. 

Will building operations staff still be on site and available to change gas cylinders and liquid nitrogen dewars?

Yes, building operations will continue normal operations as staffing levels permit. More building-specific information is being emailed to occupants.  Building Ops staff will continue to change gas cylinders and liquid nitogen dewars as staffing levels permit providing there aren't any interuptions to the availability of gases and cryogenics.  It is recommended that lab's emergency contacts for equipment requiring gases and LN2 be cross-trained on how to change cylinders in the event building staff are not available. 

I have -80 freezers that are not alarmed with the Operations Center.  Is it too late to have them alarmed?

Please contact your building manager as soon as possible to discuss the possibility of alarming your freezer. They may be able to assist you with this as staffing levels allow.

Will the electricity remain on?

We do not anticipate any interuptions to electricity. 

Will science buildings change the temperature or air change settings for the labs?  Constant temperature is important for my research animals/organisms.

No.  The current plan is for these building settings to remain status quo.  If this changes, you will be notified by your buidling manager.

Will shipping and receiving remain open?

We are accepting deliveries as usual for now; our loading docks and shipping/receiving are open normal hours until we receive further instructions to shut it down or limit the hours. Starting early next week, we will be paring down our staff to only 1-2 building managers a day for limited hours to patrol the buildings in my portfolio, so we are actively trying to line up deliveries with the times we will be onsite and asking everyone in our building to limit non-essential deliveries while the university is closed.

Will the VWR Stockroom in the Biolabs remain open?

The VWR Stockroom in the Biolabs will remain open through Wednesday, March 18th.  Open hours are as follows: 8:00 am - 12:00 pm and 12:30 pm - 4;30 pm each day.  Closed for lunch from 12:00 - 12:30 pm. 

Will hazardous waste pick-up still be available?

Yes, Triumvirate waste pick-up will still continue as needed.  Please continue to request pick-ups as needed; however, we expect that needs for pick-up will decrease as research is ramped down.

Will the Helium Recovery Facility remain open? Liquid helium is essential to maintaining our equipment.

Yes, we understand that this essential service is critical to many research groups.  The helium recovery facility will remain open providing staff are able to work.  Please continue to follow standard procedures for ordering dewars.  Only order helium you need.  Please do not place bulk orders to "stock up".  Emergency dewars will continue to be available as per normal operating procedures and are for emergency use only  Please continue to anticipate your helium needs and place orders accordingly.  All dewar handles and push rings are being sanitizied before delivery and we encourage you to do the same after use. 

Will core facilities remain open?

Like other research labs, core facilities are actively planning to ramp down their operations by close of business on Wednesday, March 18th.   During this ramp-down period, most cores will not be accepting new projects and instruments may begin to be brought offline.  Please check with the core directly regarding the status of your fee-for-service work and the availability of self-service equipment.  If you have an instrument reservation that you do not plan on using, please remember to cancel it to avoid being billed.

Will Research Computing resources still be available?

Yes. Research computing resources will remain available.

Several SEAS labs have Start-up tech companies embedded in their Harvard Labs. Can we have non-Harvard employees of the lab/startups working in the Harvard lab spaces? 

Start-ups are not allowed in Harvard spaces. Harvard’s resources should not be used for outside work. Please consult your Divisional Dean or SEAS Dean for further information.  

Visitors or workers external to the Harvard community are not allowed on campus. 

What is the DoD Guidance on Salaries?

The DOD will allow recipients to continue to charge salaries and benefits to currently-active awards consistent with the recipients’ policy of paying salaries (under unexpected or extraordinary circumstances) from all funding sources, federal and non-federal.



What impact will this have on my research program? 

The NSF has posted an FAQ page here: https://www.nsf.gov/pubs/2020/nsf20053/nsf20053.jsp 

The NIH has posted information here: https://grants.nih.gov/grants/natural_disasters/corona-virus.htm [UPDATED LINK 3/16]

The DOE has posted information here: https://science.osti.gov/-/media/sc-1/pdf/COVID-19-letter.pdf?la=en&hash=2A142317F56F185FC3E2CEF0AEAD6CACB3E70C7F

DOE Office of Science Accommodating Interruptions due to COVID-19: https://projects.iq.harvard.edu/files/coronavirus/files/doe_accommodating_interruptions_to_applicants-awardees_due_to_covid-19.pdf

A list of all FOAs and DOE Laboratory Announcements may be found at https://science.osti.gov/grants/FOAs/Open, and https://science.osti.gov/grants/Lab-Announcements/Open, respectively.

I think I might be in a position to undertake a research project relevant to COVID-19. Is there a rapid-response funding opportunity? 

The NSF has established a program you might consider. See 

I am concerned about long term care of cultures/samples/animals in our lab. Who should I talk to? 

Research continuity guidance is available from Environmental Health and Safety; see https://www.ehs.harvard.edu/research-and-labs-preparedness-covid-19 

We will take all possible measures to minimize the long-term impact to your research program, subject to personnel safety concerns. Faculty should contact Sarah Elwell (sarah_elwell@harvard.edu- FAS Science) and/or Leigh Needleman (leigh_needleman@harvard.edu - SEAS) for area-specific research continuity questions or concerns.  The BRI is currently developing business continuity plans for review and approval by the IACUC.  

Since postdocs and graduate students don’t technically get sick time, how should we be handling their absences? 

Grad students and postdocs who are working remotely are fulfilling their effort obligation. If they are ill, that is handled as we normally do.   

We  employ an undergraduate who runs our radio telescope on the roof of one of the campus buildings at night and on weekends. He works almost entirely alone. He will be moving in with a relative in the Boston area. Can he continue to work for us? 

Please see most recent policy: https://science.fas.harvard.edu/files/division-of-science/files/rampdown03132020.pdf 

If I am an undergraduate who lives within the vicinity of campus, am I permitted to conduct wet lab research in the lab after March 15?  

Please see most recent policy: https://science.fas.harvard.edu/files/division-of-science/files/rampdown03132020.pdf