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Duke curtails laboratory research as COVID-19 continues to spread

Most Duke lab research is being suspended amid growing spread of COVID-19, Vice President for Research Lawrence Carin wrote in an email Tuesday evening.

The order exempts work related to developing a COVID-19 vaccine, in addition to "essential" clinical research with human subjects and clinical research that can be done remotely. Investigators were recently asked to develop plans in case of a campus shutdown, and Carin directed that those procedures be implemented immediately.

"Due to the rapidly deteriorating conditions, only hands-on activity essential to preserve the future viability of research programs will be permitted in most laboratories," he wrote. "All laboratory PIs should begin to activate their wind-down plans effective now, 03/17/2020. All non-laboratory research in Duke facilities that requires direct person-to-person contact must also cease at this time."

Carin noted that this doesn't mean laboratory research must stop entirely, but rather the focus must shift to computation and analysis, which can be done away from campus. 

"We understand your research is critically important, and during this period we urge you to devote your time to activities that may be accomplished primarily outside the laboratory," he wrote.


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