Laboratory Operations

Research in Duke facilities (on-campus and leased) is severely restricted. Only hands-on activity essential to preserve the future viability of research programs will be permitted in laboratory buildings. Only essential Duke personnel should enter the research facilities at this time—no guests or children.

Our sincere thanks to all of you for the commitment you have shown as you work to transition your groups’ on-campus research operations. As you continue to implement these plans, keep the following in mind: 

  • Our goal is to have zero cases of infection in our research labs and to protect our critical workforce and our community.
  • To achieve that goal, we must implement as much social distancing as possible.
  • Therefore, we must greatly reduce the density of workers in labs as well as the total number of people who enter our buildings.
  • Your goal is not to be maintaining current productivity; rather, it is to ensure the future viability of your research programs when we ramp up again.
  • Comply with the spirit of this goal, and complete ongoing experiments as rapidly as possible.
  • Do not start new experiments that can be initiated at a future time.
  • Requests to continue research, in the form of beginning new studies, will only be granted in extremely rare cases, and virtually all of them will involve direct COVID-19-related work.
  • If you, as department/center/institute/unit leaders, haven’t shared your ramp-down plans with your school’s research leadership, please do so immediately.
  • We expect school leaders to ensure that these plans are implemented, to take a hard line on research deemed ‘essential;’ however, in case of disagreement, the final decision will be made by the Vice President for Research. 

Facilities: Campus buildings are restricted from general access and require a Duke badge for entry. Interior spaces within buildings may also be access-controlled as appropriate and are managed at the unit level. All Duke personnel should carry their ID cards with them at all times.

Lab Procedures: The names and roles of individuals who have been assigned to maintain essential experiments (i.e., those that need special attention to avoid catastrophic financial and data loss) must be approved by your department chair. These individuals should only be in the laboratory for the time it takes to secure the future continuation of the research program. Departing lab members should follow standard laboratory cleaning procedures to sterilize surfaces.

Lab Safety: Please review and implement OESO's Guidance for Research Labs Curtailing or Suspending Onsite Activities.

Procurement: Starting March 25th, Procurement Services will activate a new process for centralized package delivery due to controlled access to buildings on campus. To support the Duke campus during this time:

  • A central receiving location has been set up by Procurement at Golden Warehouse. 
  • Federal Express, UPS, and other carriers have been informed and will be coordinating deliveries in accordance with the above-referenced process. 
  • The Golden Warehouse is staffed from 8 AM – 4:30 PM, Monday – Friday, and will be receiving and storing shipments until buildings are opened up.
  • Packages will NOT be returned to vendor/sender.
  • Please follow the procedures outlined in the new process to have your package retrieved. 

For labs conducting essential research or for specific offices identified by individual schools, each school will gather the necessary contact information to post at the loading docks so that the normal deliveries can continue. This process does not impact any of the procedures related to orders or receiving for patient care operations.

Other Lab Guidance:

  • Liquid nitrogen/other gas deliveries: If you require Air Gas deliveries, place the order as normal and deliveries will happen as they normally do. If the delivery location is locked, there will need to be someone there to let them in. If you have questions or need assistance please contact Ed Sharpe

  • Best practices for shutting down a CO2 incubator: Thermo Fisher has provided recommendations for shutting down a CO2 incubator to avoid the growth of microorganisms in an empty, closed incubator which was previously in use. 

  • Virtual Options: Utilize flexible work options to keep in touch with lab members while working at a distance. Duke offers many options for remote work and teleconferencing, including Zoom, WebEx, VPN access to Duke networks, and web-based mail clients. A Quick Start Guide for Working Remotely has been created to help you utilize tech tools for staying in contact with your staff and students. Note that all research group meetings must be conducted virtually, as we have already specified for classes and other group gatherings.

  • Export Controls: Any physical items leaving the country should be reviewed by the Office of Export Controls (please submit an Export Classification Request Form). Existing Technology Control Plans (TCPs) should be followed or updated with measures used for new work arrangements (contact with questions). PIs should account for controls on any sponsor or collaborator-provided export-controlled information or items and contact as necessary. Visit the Export Controls website for further information and guidance. 

  • Marine Lab: The Duke Marine Lab will be closed as of 5 p.m. Friday, March 20, until further notice. This step is being taken to allow students, staff and faculty to remain home and practice social distancing. During this period, security will be stationed at the Lab entrance and only essential personnel will be allowed to access campus.