Research Ramp Up Announced

May 16, 2020

A message from Dr. Kunkel

Dear Colleagues,

Messages were sent out earlier today from both President Schlissel and U-M VP of Research Rebecca Cunningham indicating that the university can begin to cautiously reactivate research activities. We anticipate the first wave of lab buildings—a pilot wave—to begin toward the end of next week. In subsequent waves, we will activate the remaining research buildings using a shift strategy to bring back additional personnel. We have been planning for this milestone literally since ramp-down was announced back in March. The Medical School Office of Research (OoR) has been working in close collaboration with Facilities, DPSS, EHS, and other units to develop a re-activation process for research at the Medical School. This process conforms with the U-M Research Re-Engagement Guidelines developed by central campus, while at the same time recognizing the unique needs and circumstances of research at the Medical School.

Medical School research will reactivate over several phases, with restrictions lifted in each subsequent phase, as informed by outcomes and public health guidelines. The Medical School reactivation is part of the larger university plan. The first wave of this plan is limited to a “pilot,” with one building participating from each of only a few of the U-M schools and colleges. The intent of the pilot is to learn what is working and what is not working as we bring back scientists into our wet laboratories.

BSRB has been selected as the Medical School’s pilot building for Phase 1. The selection of BSRB and subsequent progression through Phase 1 waves has been informed by safety, supply chain, and operational logistics. In compliance with the university’s Research Re-engagement Guidelines, 30%-40% of personnel will be allowed access to the building in this first phase. In preparation, last week we communicated the reactivation process to the Department Chairs. CLICK HERE to view the webpage outlining that process, as well as links to reactivation FAQs from OoR, Facilities, and EHS.

The second and subsequent waves will include several Medical School buildings, as well as additional buildings in other schools and colleges, as we reach our final goal of putting all the research buildings on-line. Keep in mind that while there is a plan to bring back all of our research buildings, this will be at an initial reduced capacity from pre-COVID-19 occupancy.

“Patience” is going to be the word we employ the most in the coming days, both for those of you allowed to return to BSRB, and for those waiting for their buildings to reactivate. There will be bumps in the road. But our ultimate goal is to ramp up safely and successfully, as opposed to having to pull back and revert if done inappropriately and too fast. I encourage you to connect with your Department Chair to discuss how you and your team can plan for your role in this important reactivation process.

I hope and believe the worst is behind us, and am excited at the prospect of returning to our laboratories and seeing our colleagues in person – albeit from a socially distant perspective. Thank you in advance for your patience and conscientiousness.

Best regards,

Steven L. Kunkel, Ph.D.
Executive Vice Dean for Research, Medical School
Chief Scientific Officer, Michigan Medicine
Peter A. Ward Distinguished University Professor
Endowed Professor of Pathology Research