Update on Continuity of Critical Research

Dear Faculty, Staff, Postdocs and Students who Conduct Laboratory Research,

We write to announce that in light of the current public health emergency, all non-critical laboratory research across the University should be suspended as soon as possible, but no later than Friday, March 20th. Similar communications have been sent by the FAS, SEAS  and YSM deans.  

Many of you have already ramped down your on-campus research activities in view of our previous announcements. Thank you.  

For those who have not yet done so, please take steps to ensure that all non-critical laboratory research is suspended as soon as possible.  Even with these limits in place, the infrastructure needed to support research programs will be severely taxed; these scarce resources must be reserved for essential work.  Both the Medical School and the FAS  have provided guidance on what constitutes critical research.  

Critical on-campus research functions is limited to the following.

  • Completing lab shutdown procedures. If you still need to complete shutdown procedures, please do so immediately. You may find this ramp-down checklist helpful.
  • Conducting critical maintenance procedures that require regular attention to maintain laboratory viability. For example, cell, plant or animal colony maintenance, maintaining shared computational equipment, and maintaining equipment that requires gas or cryogen monitoring/service, such as freezers, electron microscopes, mass spectrometers, and incubators.
  • Certain clinical research, including therapeutic clinical research studies; monitoring of the safety and efficacy of patients in ongoing clinical trials; testing of patient/research samples for ongoing clinical trials that cannot be paused; and other lab work that impacts the immediate safety and health of our patients and community. 
  • With appropriate precautions and approvals, COVID-19 research that has the potential to mitigate the spread or impact of the pandemic. 

As the welfare of research animals is essential, veterinary care through the Yale Animal Resource Center (YARC) will continue. Other core research services have shut down or will shut down soon, except in support of critical research functions. 

The FAS and SEAS deans provided guidance in their communication on the process by which ongoing critical research will be reviewed for approval of continuation. In YSM, department chairs are responsible for monitoring adherence to this policy. Pay particular attention to the needs and health concerns of your research groups, particularly your students. No trainee should be required, explicitly or implicitly, to work in the laboratory in violation of these guidelines. You now need to stay away from your on-campus workspace, with rare exceptions to perform critical research functions, as described above. 

We understand that this action creates significant disruption to important work.  We reached this determination based on the advice we are receiving from public health experts and the guidance issued by federal, state and local health authorities.  Our priority is the well-being of Yale students, faculty, staff and the broader community.  COVID-19 spreads easily, and many individuals with the virus have no or mild symptoms, but can still transmit the disease. The city of New Haven has advised residents to leave their homes only to secure groceries, medical supplies, or other essential resources; the State of Connecticut and the U.S. Federal Government have declared states of emergency; and several countries in Europe and Asia are in lockdown. In light of this situation, many of our peer institutions have announced the suspension of non-critical research effective today. With this message, we write to affirm that Yale shares this commitment.

We hope that your remote research activities are productive during this time and that you stay intellectually and virtually close to your coworkers. We encourage you to spend this period in activities that will expand your imagination and advance your thinking: analyzing data, reading the literature in your own and adjacent fields, thinking about and writing grants, writing and reviewing papers, planning experiments. 

Thank you for the work that you do now, and in the future, for the benefit of Yale and our communities.


Scott Strobel
Henry Ford II Professor of Molecular Biophysics and Biochemistry