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A Message to Faculty, Doctoral Students, & Post-Docs

Dear Faculty, Doctoral Students, & Post-Docs

I am adding to the most recent directive from Provost Pritchett, Vice Provost Bonnell & Dean Jameson.  Their memo focuses on lab research, but it applies to all our our research programs.  In keeping with the intent of this memo, I want to be clear on how to apply this to the Penn Nursing Resarch portfolio.

Faculty please consider your own protocols using the following guiding principles.  Doctoral students & Post-docs work directly with your faculty mentor to determine how to handle your research activities.

Guiding Principles:

  1. Health system partners mandate that only essential clinical contact occur with patients.   Research does not fit that criteria.  Research staff should not be in clinical settings for the purpose of research - whether for enrollment, subject contact, medical record review or any other reason unless you are directly involved with a COVID-19 study.
  2. Research subjects should not be brought to campus.
  3. Community:  Research teams should carefully review their protocols and change to telephone, mail, or web contact only.   Having staff members move throughout the community from subject to subject defeats the purpose of social distancing and mitigating the transmission of this virus throughout the community.
  4. For our lab-based colleagues - the messaging from central university is very clear.  In light of this new directive please revisit the contingency plans you shared with me last week to further determine what is the minimal essential functions (and people) who need to continue.
  5. Keep your research team fully apprised and knowledgeable about what decisions you are making and why.
  6. Keep the program officer from your funding agency apprised.
  7. All research specific updates can be found on the Vice Provost for Research website.   https://research.upenn.edu/resources/coronavirus/   All decisions you make must be consistent with guidance from central university.

I know this is disconcerting,  Thus, I will give you a concrete example.  I have taken my own study in the following direction: 1)  fully halted enrollment at Penn Presby; 2) halted in-home follow-up interviews;  3) moved to telephone follow-up interviews only and we will pre-text the response cards to our subjects; 4) a plan to move to mail (yes - snail mail) if needed for follow-up;  5) tasking my team with other background work that can be completed remotely.  

Remember, everyone throughout the country is in the same situation.  We will bounce back but health and well-being trumps the risks of worsening the transmission of COVID-19. 

Feel free to reach out to Bob or Terry if you need a sounding board to think through your study issues.  ONR (grants management, BECCA, LITNR, and Innovation) is functioning  and here to serve you. We will do our best to be timely in responses but as we navigate transitioning to remote (as are all university research services) please be patient.  Think about productivity even if you have to pause your current protocols.   This could be a terrific time to get data analyzed, get manuscripts out the door, and work on new proposals.  


Therese S. Richmond PhD, CRNP, FAAN

Andrea B. Laporte Professor of Nursing

Associate Dean for Research & Innovation