Core Facilities

This page is for core facilities that report to the Office of the Vice President for Research. Information about core facilities run by the Carver College of Medicine may be found here

Lab-specific guidelines

COVID-19 Policies at the Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing

The following document describes the COVID-19 related policies and procedures established for operations at the Center for Biocatalysis and Bioprocessing (CBB).

Effective Date:  September 17, 2020.

Entrance Procedures

All staff, other university employees, and visitors entering the CBB must enter the facility through the front entrance. The front entrance will remain locked at all times. No access will be permitted through other doors, which will remain locked at all times. Signage has been posted on other doors directing visitors to the main entrance. Signage includes contact information so that visitors may alert the CBB to their arrival.

Per University policy, a face mask is required to enter the building. Masks and hand sanitizer are provided in the entryway for those who do not have their own. Additional information on face masks can be found in the Personal Protection section of this document

Upon entrance, staff must log their entry and complete the daily self-assessment (Attachment #1). If staff travels between CBB sites (the main CBB facility and the CBB Annex site), this assessment must be completed at each site.  Visitors to the facility, including other university employees, janitorial staff, and external service technicians, are also required to complete the self-assessment process (Attachment #2). This self-assessment includes the following questions:

  • Do you have a fever of 100.0°F or greater?
  • Are you or someone in your household experiencing COVID or flu-like symptoms?
  • In the last 14 days, have you been in close contact (within 6 ft for 15 minutes or more) with a person who has been diagnosed with COVID-19 (by testing or Doctor diagnosed) or is awaiting COVID-19 test results because the contact is exhibiting symptoms?

If the answer to any of these questions is yes, the staff member/visitor is not allowed to enter the facility. Staff are directed to follow up with their healthcare provider and to continue working remotely. Additional information on what to do in the case of illness or exposure can be found later in this document.

The CBB has provided an infrared thermometer to allow staff members and visitors to perform their temperature screenings. The thermometer, log-in sheet, and hand sanitizer are located directly inside the main entrance to the CBB. At entry, the CBB staff members should complete the self-assessment using the following steps:

  • Inside the vestibule at the CBB Main Entrance, open locked door by scanning key card.
  • Use the provided hand sanitizer. Hand sanitizer is provided inside and outside of the locked door.
  • Retrieve thermometer and perform temperature screening.
  • Log temperature results and complete remainder of questions on log-in sheet.
  • Hand sanitize and proceed to lab.

The temperature screening should be performed and logged a second time daily, mid-way through a shift. Visitors should first alert the CBB to their arrival, and then use the same procedure to complete their self-assessment.

Physical Distancing

The number of staff working on-site at the CBB are limited to those staff necessary to successfully and safely complete each project. Staff members working remotely should be available to fill-in in case of illness. Staff should only remain on-site when they have specific work to complete.  In order to comply with the CDC recommended social distancing guidelines, the following practices will be implemented at the CBB for those working on-site.

Room Restrictions

The number of staff members allowed in different areas of the facility are limited accordingly to maintain appropriate social distancing. Signage with the maximum occupancy is posted in each room.  In the case that more than one staff member is in a room, they are to maintain a distance of six feet from each other whenever possible. It is recognized that during some laboratory tasks, this minimum distance will be difficult to maintain. Additional protections for these specific situations will be discussed elsewhere in this document.

Room Number

Description

Maximum Occupancy

C125

Fermentation Suite

7

C141

Prep Room

2*

C161

Downstream Suite

6

C127

Lab Area

3

C113A

Breakroom

1

Conference Room

3

*The preferred number of people in C141 (Prep Room) is 1, but 2 is permissible if both are wearing face shields. Multiple solution preparation areas have been established to allow staff members to maintain appropriate social distancing and minimize the staff in C141. These are located in C141 and C127 (Lab Area).

The two doors connecting C125 (Fermentation Suite) and C127 are each designated as one-way, to improve distancing as staff move between these two rooms.  Appropriate signage is posted to designate the direction of each of these doors.

Personal workspaces are located in C127, C131, and C161. While most of these desks are separated by partitions, some are not. Staff members with desks that are right next to each other should avoid being at their desks at the same time. Additionally, those with personal workspaces in high traffic areas should minimize time spent at their desk while others are active in the same room. Personal workspaces in these high traffic areas may be relocated to help facilitate better distancing.

The number of staff in the common areas of the facility (e.g., breakroom, conference room) should also be limited whenever possible. To maintain distancing, staff should stagger lunch and break periods. Lunch periods may need to be shortened to allow all staff members on-site the opportunity to use the common area if desired. Additionally, shared supplies in common areas should not be used. This includes, but is not limited to, the dishes, coffee pot, and water cooler.  Individual bottled water is available for the staff in place of the shared water cooler.

Staff should avoid bringing personal items into the facility, whenever possible.

Shifts

Staff members may be scheduled for second or third shifts as project needs dictate, allowing for distancing over time. Shift overlap will be minimized. When the next shift arrives on-site, staff members should briefly communicate regarding project needs before departing. The enhanced cleaning procedures and PPE requirements described below are applicable to all shifts.

Facility Cleaning

A checklist will be provided to staff members to ensure that enhanced facility cleaning requirements are being performed during each shift (Attachment #3). EPA-registered disinfectants or 70% alcohol spray or wipes must be used for cleaning. A more comprehensive list of the cleaning supplies available at the CBB is provided in Attachment #4. Disinfectant and 70% alcohol spray and/or wipes are placed strategically throughout the lab and in common areas to ensure every staff member has easy access to these supplies. Staff members can verify the EPA-registration of a specific cleaning item using the link below.

https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2

CBB staff members are all responsible for maintaining the cleanliness of the laboratory and shared space. If necessary, an additional staff member may be added to the project team or called in to focus primarily on the enhanced cleaning tasks.

Commonly used areas and equipment should be cleaned and disinfected multiple times daily. Within the laboratory this includes but is not limited to benchtops, door handles, carts, pipettes, light switches, phones, and shared computer equipment. Benchtops should be cleaned immediately after each use and at the end of each shift. Large equipment that is in use should have its commonly touched surfaces wiped down at least once per shift. Staff members will also be responsible for cleaning and disinfecting their personal workspace and computer.

Outside of the laboratory, staff should clean and disinfect shared spaces after usage. For example, the breakroom table should be wiped down after each staff member completes their lunch period.

All laboratory dishes and glassware must be cleaned on a daily basis. All trash must be removed from the laboratory area daily. Biohazard waste should be combined into a single container daily, and removed from the laboratory when the container is full.

Janitorial service will continue to perform a thorough cleaning of common areas such as restrooms and the main entrance corridor on a daily basis.

Personal Protection

Staff at the CBB will follow the guidelines provided below for personal protection while working on-site. As per the CDC, staff members should also practice frequent hand washing, cover coughs and sneezes, and avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth.

The CBB currently has enough personal protective equipment (PPE), including disposable masks, face shields, and gloves for the staff on-site. The CBB is currently working to procure N95 masks, which will be used for a specific set of tasks. Orders to replenish these supplies as necessary will be submitted through the appropriate University system.

Gloves

Once inside the laboratory space, gloves must be worn at all times, unless using a personal computer. Gloves should be changed when appropriate, or as needed, such as after cleaning tasks, and working in a Biosafety cabinet. When exiting the laboratory, gloves should be removed and hands washed. All gloves should be disposed of in a biohazard container.

In the common spaces outside of the laboratory, gloves should not be worn and frequent hand washing should be performed. Hand washing is required after use of restrooms, breakrooms, etc. The only time that gloves may be worn outside of the laboratory space is when receiving and unboxing a shipment, as discussed later in this document.

Lab Coats

Lab coats should be used as necessary while working in the laboratory space. Lab coats should not be worn outside of the lab. Note that lab coats are required at all times in the Fermentation Suite, C125. Lab coat should be replaced daily if possible, but used for no more than two days. CINTAS will provide laundry service for soiled lab coats on a weekly basis.

Masks/Face shields

Consistent with University policy, face masks are required for all staff and visitors to the CBB.  Masks should be worn at all times, unless alone in a private office or during breaks to eat or drink. The University’s mask policy can be found at the following link: https://coronavirus.uiowa.edu/returning-campus/masks-distancing-and-health.  Masks should be put on before entering the main doors of the facility.  Staff may use a cloth mask provided from home, or a disposable mask provided by CBB. Disposable masks are also available at the entrance of the facility for visitors and service personnel who do not have their own.  Personal masks must be laundered daily to ensure cleanliness.  Instructions on how to make and care for a personal mask can be found on the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/prevent-getting-sick/diy-cloth-face-coverings.html. Additionally, all staff at the CBB are required to complete EHS safety training course W050OS (Respirator: Voluntary Use) to ensure that they are knowledgeable on proper mask usage.

Face shields must be used by the staff in situations where a minimum distance of six feet between workers cannot be maintained. After use, face shields must be disinfected with 70% alcohol afterwards. Situations where a face shield may be needed include during harvest of a fermenter by Sharples centrifuges, for shake flask inoculations that include a high number of flasks and require two operators to maintain sterile working conditions, or for project steps that require verification by a second operator. Additionally, face shields should be worn in C141 if more than one staff member is present.

Illness

It is critical that CBB staff continual monitor themselves for signs of illness or exposure to COVID-19.  Symptoms of COVID-19 include, but are not limited to, fever or chills, cough, shortness of breath or difficulty breathing, fatigue, muscle or body aches, headache, New loss of taste or smell, Sore throat, congestion or runny nose, nausea or vomiting, and/or diarrhea.  If an employee experiences any of these symptoms, they should not report to work.  If symptoms develop at work, the employee should leave work immediately. More information on the symptoms of COVID-19 can be found on the CDC website: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/symptoms-testing/symptoms.html.

Any employee who is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, has tested positive for COVID-19, or has been exposed to COVID-19 should follow the steps outlined by the University for self-reporting and self-isolation/quarantine.  A brief summary of these steps are provided below.  Employees may also refer to https://coronavirus.uiowa.edu/returning-campus/showing-symptoms for further details, and to access the link for self-reporting.  Additional instructions on self-reporting can also be found at https://coronavirus.uiowa.edu/sites/coronavirus.uiowa.edu/files/2020-08/COVID19-Self-Reporting-Diagnosis-Employees-082120.pdf.

If a staff member becomes ill during a client project, the outcome of the project will be determined on a case-by-case basis. Any illness should be reported to the supervisor immediately. The enhanced cleaning protocols described above will continue, with special attention to areas of exposure that have been identified. The impact of the illness on the project will be determined by the Director and Technical Director. If necessary, additional staff members will be called in to replace those who are ill or have been exposed.

COVID-19 Symptoms

If an employee is experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, they should notify their supervisor and begin self-isolation at home immediately.  If the employee is at work when symptoms develop, they should return home immediately. Self-isolation should continue until the criteria established by the CDC to end self-isolation is met: 10 days since the onset of symptoms, 24 hours after cessation of fever without fever-reducing medication, and symptoms have improved. Additional information about self-isolation can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/isolation.html. The employee should follow up with their healthcare provider to assess their symptoms and determine if a COVID-19 test is needed.

COVID-19 Positive Test

If an employee has tested positive for COVID-19, or is presumed to be positive by a healthcare provider, they should self-report to the University and notify their supervisor immediately to arrange sick leave.  After self-reporting, the employee will receive further instructions via email from the University.  The employee should self-isolate at home until they meet the CDC criteria to end self-isolation: 10 days since the onset of symptoms, 24 hours after cessation of fever without fever-reducing medication, and symptoms have improved.  Additional information about self-isolation can be found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/isolation.html

After the onset of symptoms, the staff member should follow up with their health care provider. They should also inform close contacts and assist the local health departments with contact tracing. 

COVID-19 Exposure

An employee who has had close contact to COVID-19 may be required quarantine, in order to prevent the spread of disease that can occur before a person knows they are sick or is symptomatic.  Close contact, as defined by the CDC, includes spending time with a person who has tested positive or is experiencing symptoms for more than 15 minutes at a distance of less than 6 feet. If quarantine is required, the employee should remain at home for 14 days and follow the CDC’s instructions on when to end their quarantine.  The CDC’s instructions on quarantine and the complete definition of close contact are found at https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/if-you-are-sick/quarantine.html.  If the employee develops symptoms of COVID-19 while in quarantine, they should follow the instructions provided above under COVID-19 Symptoms.

An employee may be notified by the local health department that they are a close contact of someone who has tested positive for COVID-19, based on contact tracing protocols.  In this situation, the employee should self-report via the University's online system. The employee should follow the guidance of the local public health department related to seeking medical evaluation and quarantine.  If quarantine is required, the employee should notify their supervisor and HR representative.  The employee may continue to work remotely while quarantining.

If the employee has not been contacted by the local health department, but knows they have been exposed to COVID-19 as defined by the CDC, quarantine is appropriate. The employee should notify their supervisor and HR representative of the exposure and self-report to the University.  While in quarantine, the employee should monitor for symptoms, follow up with their healthcare provider, and follow direction of the state and local health departments.  The employee may continue to work remotely while in quarantine.

Employees who have had close contact with a person who has COVID-19 but who provide critical services that must be performed on campus may be able to continue to report to work as scheduled unless they begin to experience symptoms. This will be evaluated on a case-by-case basis by CBB leadership, with guidance from the OVPR and Human Resources.

Instructions for Supervisors

When an employee tests positive or is presumed positive for COVID-19, one of their first actions is to report it to their supervisor. The supervisor may not disclose the identity of positive cases to the rest of the staff. Supervisors should work with HR as necessary to secure the space in the facility that may have been exposed.

The actions of the supervisor to secure the facility are dependent on when the employee last reported to work on-site.  If the employee has not reported to the facility in more than 10 days, no additional action is required. If the employee has reported to the facility, the supervisor should work with the Senior HR Leader for the organization to ensure limited access to spaces where the employee spent significant time and to arrange cleaning with FM Custodial services.  The supervisor will instruct staff via appropriate signage not to enter or use the space until it has been cleaned. FM Custodial Services will be contacted by the Supervisor or Senior HR Leader to provide cleaning services for the facility, using the guidelines that FM has established (319-335-5071 or www.facilities.uiowa.edu/services/fmyourservice.) If questioned on why a space has been restricted, the supervisor should reassure the staff that it is for their safety, and that the space will be cleaned as quickly as possible.

Equipment Calibration and Maintenance

The CBB has instrumentation and equipment that require preventative maintenance or servicing before resuming laboratory efforts. Technicians or contractors entering the facility to perform these services will be required to follow the same procedures as the CBB staff, including a self-assessment upon entrance, use of PPE, and hand washing. If service technician or contractors do not have appropriate PPE, CBB will provide it for them.  Maintenance services will be scheduled with room occupancy limits in mind to ensure social distancing practices can be maintained.

Post-servicing, equipment and instrumentation will go through appropriate cleaning. All fermentation vessels will go through a sterilization cycle. External surfaces on equipment will be wiped with an EPA-registered disinfectant or 70% alcohol. All common laboratory spaces (benchtops, carts, etc.) used by the technician will be disinfected by CBB staff.

Receiving Packages

All deliveries to the CBB will be received in the vestibule outside the main entrance. Delivery personnel may contact the CBB upon arrival if additional action is required, such as for a signature or large delivery. Appropriate signage will be posted at the main CBB entrance. The proper PPE, including a mask and if necessary a face shield, should be worn when interacting with delivery personnel.

Deliveries will be unboxed in the vestibule, and the contents then transferred inside the main corridor. Items received will be wiped with 70% alcohol, and transferred into the laboratory. All cardboard will be restricted to the vestibule or transferred to a recycling container located outside the main door. This recycling bin will be emptied daily. No cardboard will allowed into the main corridor or laboratory space. Gloves should be worn by staff when unboxing and wiping down shipments, as well as when removing cardboard from the facility.

Large deliveries, such as Oxygen dewers, must first be received through the main entrance. Delivery personnel with be required to wear a mask and undergo the temperature screening and self-assessment before entering the facility. Once the visitor self-assessment is complete, the delivery may be taken to the back entrance to bring into the facility, if necessary.

GMP Facility

CBB employees and visitors to the CBB Annex site will undergo the same self-assessment and temperature screening procedure as at the main facility. An infrared thermometer, disposable masks, and hand sanitizer stations are all available at the CBB Annex site. Complete instructions for entering a CBB facility are found at the beginning of this document.

Deliveries for the CBB Annex will be accepted at that site. Appropriate PPE, including a mask and if necessary a face shield, should be worn when interacting with delivery personnel. Deliveries will be unboxed in the entryway, and the contents wiped with 70% alcohol and transferred into the quarantine room. The Annex entryway should be cleaned and disinfected, and the cardboard removed, after deliveries have been transferred to quarantine.

Access to the GMP Facilities remains restricted to only necessary personnel. Those entering a GMP laboratory should gown in as per MAP010 Gowning and Working in GMP Downstream Suite and MAP039 Gowning and Entry in GMP Fermentation Suite. Consistent with University policy, face masks are required in all GMP facilities.  Face shields should also been worn inside the GMP laboratory spaces when social distancing cannot be maintained.

The schedule of non-production tasks performed at each GMP site has been adjusted to minimize the number of persons in the GMP facilities while still meeting QA requirements. This specific schedule of non-production tasks is established by the QA team. One staff member should be scheduled each week to complete the GMP tasks.

Minimal staff will be working at the CBB Annex site on a regular basis during non-production. Disinfectant or 70% alcohol are available at this location so that wipe down of commonly touched surfaces can be performed. Weekly janitorial services continue at this location as currently scheduled.

Client Projects

Client projects, for both the RPD and GMP facilities, will be scheduled with the appropriate social distancing and room occupancy restrictions in mind.  Depending on the workload of a specific project, an additional staff member may be called in strictly to perform the enhanced cleaning duties described earlier or to perform other non-project lab duties. This need will be assessed on a project-by-project, week-by-week basis. Staff who are not scheduled to be in the lab for client projects or GMP tasks during a given week should still be available and on-call, in case of illness. Staff not scheduled for lab work should continue to work remotely.

Attachment #1

Attachment #2

Attachment #3

CBB Facility Cleaning Check List during COVID-19

General Instructions

All tasks listed below should be performed a minimum of once per shift, unless otherwise specified. Operators should verify that all tasks have been completed and logged on the checklist. 70% alcohol or an EPA-registered disinfectant should be used to complete each task. Gloves should be worn at all times during cleaning.

Cleaning Checklist

Benchtops – All benchtops should be cleaned and wiped down with an appropriate disinfectant immediately after each use, and at the end of each shift.

Door Handles / Light Switches – All door handles and light switches should be wiped down a minimum of twice per shift.

Large Equipment – Commonly touched surfaces on equipment in use should be wiped down once per shift. This includes valves, touch-screens, buttons, handles, etc.

Hand-held Equipment – All hand-held equipment should be wiped down after each usage.

Shared Computer Equipment – Shared computer equipment should be wiped down after each usage

Personal Workspaces (Desks) – Personal workspaces and computers at those workspaces should be wiped down at the end of a staff member’s shift

Carts – Carts should be wiped down after usage. At a minimum, the cart handle should be wiped down after transferring the cart to a new location.

Dishes – All dishes must be washed and set out to dry during each shift. When possible, no dishes should be left for the next shift to clean. This includes dishes in C125 and C141.

Common Spaces – shared spaces such as the Breakroom (C113A) should be cleaned after each usage. Staff members should wipe down the table, door handles, and any other surfaces touched before exiting the Breakroom. Additionally, door handles and other commonly touched surfaces in the main entry corridor should be wiped down a minimum of twice per shift.

Trash – All trash should be removed from the laboratory daily.

Biohazard Bins – All biohazard bins should be consolidated daily and removed from the laboratory as necessary.

Phones – CBB phones should be wiped down after each usage, and at least a minimum of twice per shift.

Floors – Floors should be swept and mopped as needed, at least weekly.

CBB Facility Cleaning Check List during COVID-19

Initial each task when complete. All tasks must be completed a minimum of once per shift, unless noted. One box per task per shift should be signed off for each area.

Date: _________________________________

Task

C125

C127

C141

C161

C113A

Main Corridor

Benchtops wiped down

N/A

Door handles / Light Switches wiped down

Large Equipment wiped down

N/A

Hand-held Equipment wiped down

N/A

Shared Computer Equipment

Personal Workspaces

Carts wiped down

N/A

Dishes cleaned

N/A

Common Spaces wiped down

N/A

N/A

N/A

N/A

Trash Removed (daily)

N/A

Biohazard Bins removed (daily)

N/A

Phones wiped down

N/A

N/A

N/A

Floors swept & mopped

                                         

Attachment #4

Summary of Cleaning Supplies Available at the CBB

The cleaning supplies listed below are available at the CBB for use in completing the tasks listed in the Facility cleaning checklist (Attachment #3). The use of a cleaner as an EPA-registered disinfectant can be verified using the link below.

https://www.epa.gov/pesticide-registration/list-n-disinfectants-use-against-sars-cov-2

  1. 70% Alcohol – for use on all non-porous surfaces. Can also be used on electronic equipment.
  2. Formula 409 Multi-Surface Cleaner – for use on non-porous surfaces. Refer to product label for required contact time.
  3. Diluted Bleach – For use on non-porous surfaces. To prepare a bleach solution, add one-third cup of bleach in per one gallon of water. A minimum contact time of one minute is required.
  4. Contrex AP Detergent – for use on laboratory dishes only. Use according to instructions on product label.
  5. Pine-Sol – for use on floors only. Prepare according to instructions on product label.
  6. Spor-Klenz – for use inside fermentation vessels only.

Chris Cheatum, Director, Materials, Analysis, Testing, and Fabrication Facility 

Strategies Specific to Characterization Instrumentation

Staff will run samples for users whenever possible so that users only drop off samples – this will require us to drop our fees for staff time.

Where possible, set up our instruments to be run remotely so that staff need only load a sample and then either a user or the staff person could run the sample from a computer in a remote location, i.e. office or home. There are a number of instruments that can be run this way, though not all. Cases where the user will be running samples remotely may require new or additional training.

When it is necessary for users to run samples, require them to reserve the entire room in advance for the time that they will be in the facility so that they can minimize contact with staff or other users. This allows us some flexibility to set a cap on the number of users allowed in a lab at one time, which we would like set in the range of 1-3 depending on the degree of social isolating that we want to maintain. All of these caps can be managed through our online reservation system

Staff and users should wear PPE such as gloves and masks while in the facility. We can also set up plexiglass partitions to create more separation between people. This will require more glove changes than usual as gloves may be contaminated by chemicals in some application and should then not be worn into common spaces or in hallways.

Each workstation will be wiped down immediately following usage, including keyboard, display, desk surface, and any other relevant work surfaces.

Strategies Specific to Fabrication Instrumentation

Each user will be assigned their own gown and hood that they will reuse for two weeks at a time

Gloves are to be put on first and removed last

Switch to non-reusable booties for entry.

The reservation system will limit the number of users in the cleanroom at one time to no more than 2 in 174 and 1 in 172 to ensure adequate space for distancing with no more than 1 person at a time in the gowning areas, this may require expanded hours to accommodate demand

Have users wipe down wet benches after use

Wet bench PPE needs to be sanitized after each use

Require users to prepare fabrication plans to minimize entering and exiting the cleanroom to reduce the usage of PPE such as gloves and masks

General Strategies

All staff wear face masks and gloves at all times

Cell phones and other user materials should be placed into and used through Ziploc bags while in the facility

Have staff work on staggered shifts to minimize interactions with one another or users in the lab

Clean all door handles and card readers 3x per day once in the morning, once after lunch time, and once at the end of the workday

Daily cleaning of all surfaces in each lab including light switches

Users who enter the labs will be required to wash their hands immediately prior to entering the space.

Users will do a virtual consultation with staff to discuss their need and prepare a plan for the best strategies to minimize risks of infection while still completing their work. This plan would have to be approved by the staff member before any work can begin.

Need to have a system in place to provide monitoring/safety for users or staff members working alone in a lab, i.e. an app or other software tool that will alert public safety or other emergency personnel of the need for a welfare check if a researcher fails to "check in" with the software at regular intervals.

 

David M. Cwiertny, Director, and Darrin Thompson, Associate Director, Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination

The Center for Health Effects of Environmental Contamination (CHEEC) is located in W193 and W195 of the Chemistry Building at the University of Iowa. Its personnel include David Cwiertny (Director) and Darrin Thompson (Associate Director), as well as several undergraduate hourly employees that assist with CHEEC research projects.

Physical Distancing of Employees:

All hourly employees will continue to work remotely. Their projects are data mining and analysis, and additional computing capabilities (laptops) may be required to assist in maintaining their research productivity from remote locations.

Associate Director Darrin Thompson is the only full time staff, and he will work full time from the CHEEC offices. Director Cwiertny will work primarily from his College of Engineering office.

On occasions where Cwiertny and Thompson are both needed at the CHEEC office, each has their own desk in separate rooms (W193 and W195), allowing safe distancing to be maintained.

All meetings between CHEEC personnel will be conducted via Zoom.

Engagement with Collaborators:

Most CHEEC research activities leverage partnerships across the state in terms of collaborators and facilities.

All meetings with collaborators will be conducted using Zoom.

Use of partners’ research facilities (e.g., equipment at the UI State Hygienic Laboratory) by CHEEC-affiliated personnel will be addressed on a case-by-case basis and prioritize protection of CHEEC personnel while working on site.

Conducting Field Research Studies:

For off-campus research activities, the size of research teams will be minimized to limit extensive physical interaction during project implementation.

Research teams will be limited to two individuals that will transport themselves to the research site individually.

We will recommend that researchers use personal vehicles, if available (with mileage reimbursed for all activities) and minimize use of University fleet vehicles whenever possible. 

While on site and during sample collection, CHEEC researchers will wear appropriate PPE (masks and gloves) when in contact with those that live or work on site (e.g., homeowners, etc.).

Some activities that involve research in heavily populated buildings (e.g., elementary schools) may be paused until risks of COVID-19 transmission are deemed sufficiently low by public health officials.

Meng Wu, Director, High Throughput Screening Core

Objectives/strategies/principles

The objectives are:

  • To establish protocols in advance for potential scenario of ramping up UIHTS core service in spite of COVID-19, i.e. Standard Operation Procedures for UIHTS core in the “New Normal” case (for more details, visit the UIHTS Website)
  • To maximize UIHTS core service available for all PIs internal or external, while keep social distancing.
  • The general strategies and principles include:
  • Maximize the UIHTS services through flexible working arrangement, automation, online project management, and diversified user bases.
  • Keep social distancing while open to maintain the health of the core users and core staffs through the reduction of direct contacts
  • Recognition of criticalness (criticality) of human side of work (manual). It is the manual physical work and expertise that is the core of core facility.

Figure 1: Three categories of procedures for ramping up

High Throughput Ramp-Up Phases

Preliminary Plans and Procedures

The plans and procedures are shown in three categories as in the Figure 1.

Entrance Procedures

Contact the Core before-hand to schedule entrance by online scheduling.

Wear personal protection (Face shields or masks) when coming in, while keeping the .social distancing as necessary

Do NOT come to the Core if you have any symptoms of coughing, fever, or any previous contacts with known COVID-19 patients recently.

Interaction Procedures

Person-to-person contact is limited only to reagent delivery in the early stage.

Only already trained users are allowed to use the instruments in the early stage.  Will open more with training in the late stage. Virtual training will be established.

Unless specified in advance, the projects will be handled by the core in the early stage. Will allow users to be trained and use the instrument in the late stage.

For the core maintenance itself, we are working to facilitate:

Increasing remote access to our instruments.

Schedule to do PM in the latest available time

Establish virtual training process.

Project Management Procedures

Will be done all online with our current infrastructure of online scheduling, Online LabNote and online (though manual ) charging. The goal is to establish online practice of project initiation, remote-access for instrument automation, data/image analysis (remotely) and data sharing and results discussion.

Still open with education and faculty recruitment efforts with the virtual tour of the UIHTS core.

For the core project development itself, we are working on:

Increase the COVID-19 related projects by potential access to BSL3 lab

Work with potential external users through micro-contract research.

Potential efforts from the core for the ramping up

What are potentially needed at the UIHTS core for the ramping up are majorly the following items:

IT Support: for the establishment of the remote access. We have example which allow the access. Need to work out on other instruments without internet access, but with campus network.

Space for the storage for the resources, e.g. small molecule collections, cell collections, natural product collections. And space for lab bench work, because we will be working majorly on the projects, instead of the users.

Additional personnel, if we can afford. Recognition of criticalness (criticality) of human side of work (manual). It is the manual physical work and expertise that is the core of our core facility. Need leadership support for continuing the recruitment for half time position?

Lynn Teesch, Director, High Resolution Mass Spectrometry Facility

The following document describes the plans and procedures to resume operations at the High Resolution Mass Spectrometry Facility (HRMSF).  The HRMSF is located in rooms W75 and W76 of the Chemistry Building.  Staffing includes Dr. Lynn Teesch (Director) and Vic Parcell (Research Specialist).  During this time we have been able to work in the lab at different times while analyzing samples and keeping the instruments operational to adhere to social distancing guidelines.  However, given the size of the Facility’s lab space, two people can work within the space and still maintain social distancing requirements.  We can continue to utilize our Outlook resource calendars for each instrument to schedule experimental time.

Phase One:

Initial phase of ramp up to opening the Facility will be to have staff return to facility fulltime.  The staff will have to assess status of facility instrumentation unused during this time and determine status of previously submitted samples.  We will need to create and implement protocol for analysis of “drop off” HRAM samples – an easily accessible way for researchers to obtain data on individual HR-ESI samples.  Staff will have to use PPE when working in the lab or office together.  During this time, facility usage by previously trained users will be done by appointment only and will be coordinated through Facility staff.  These users will be required to wear PPE inside the lab.  Options will be given to trained users for facility staff to perform the work at the current user service rate, especially when considering the necessity for social distancing.  All data processing will be done remotely utilizing workstations in the facility.  No new training will take place during this time.  We will accept new samples for HR LC-MS or HR GC-MS batch experiments, but the work will only be performed by Facility staff after Zoom/Skype meeting with researchers and sample deliveries at the Facility door.  We expect this phase to last 2 weeks.

Policies for Initial Ramp Up

Lab and office doors will be locked at all times.

Weekly staffing hours will be posted on the Facility door.  Staff will be available by phone an email.

Updates to our policies will be posted to our website: https://hrmsf.research.uiowa.edu

Staff and users who are sick are not allowed to use the facility or office space.

Personal protection equipment (PPE) for staff and users:

PPE must be used in the lab at all times (masks or face shields and other appropriate PPE for working in a chemistry lab). 

Masks must be worn in the shared office space.

Approved hands-on users will need to supply their own PPE while working in the lab

Fresh gloves will be used when working on instrumentation

Make sure all instruments and sample handling areas have gloves and 70% alcohol spray bottles

Equipment and work areas should be decontaminated with 70% alcohol after each use

Staff will clean door handles and light switches in the lab and office at least twice per day.

Soap and paper towels are available for hand washing in the facility

To minimize contact, Praxair can leave the liquid Nitrogen tanks and gas cylinders in Chemistry’s Liq N2 room, then staff can decontaminate them prior to bringing them into the lab.   Similar procedure can be worked out with ChemStores for delivery of supplies and outside samples.

New service samples will be dropped off outside of the lab with prior notification of staff

Data processing will be performed remotely by staff and trained users.

Phase Two:

The later phase will entail contacting internal and external users to let them know we are operational, accepting new samples, notification of new service rates, if adjustment is necessary, and detailing new working procedures in the lab and the new “drop off” HRAM sample analysis protocols.  We will continue running HRAM analysis for drop-off samples on biweekly basis or more depending on demand. LC-MS requests and data processing will continue as described above.  GC-MS and HR-EI service requests will be performed only by staff.  Remote training using screen sharing software for instrument operation software and data processing use will begin during this time.  Skype and Zoom both have this capability and would give the user the chance to ask questions in real time.  

Policies for Later Stage of Ramp Up:

See policies for Phase One as many will still be in place

Notify customers when facility will be accepting new samples

Internal: use current list of researchers to send email to students and PIs

External: contact via email (determine when credit card transactions can be processed again prior to notifying customers paying with Pcards.)

Utilize online Outlook resource calendars:

Create calendar for lab space with Outlook when users need to be in the lab to startup sample runs

Current individual Outlook calendars for scheduling time on each instrument

Utilize remote access to instrumentation computers when possible to check on long running samples sets (remote desktop when operating software allows or something like Teamviewer; possibly purchase subscription is necessary)

Handling of new samples “drop off” HRAM service

Require email notification of samples—only accepting sample submission forms sent via email

Notify researchers of sample prep, acceptable vial types, and appropriate labeling that will be help to avoid excess sample handling on part of staff

Use table/small file cabinet outside door for drop off—should be able to accommodate small Styrofoam coolers

Training new users (especially on new instruments)

Making videos for instrument setup and software use

Document protocols with click-by-click instructions on operating software

Considering purchasing and using additional equipment (cameras, speakers, headsets) to have at each instrument to work with users remotely, if necessary

Randy Nessler, Director, Central Microscopy Research Facility

Ramping up facility use upon returning to campus will occur in phases.  The first phase will be the return of research staff to the facility.  There is a back log of research activity that was placed on hold (samples were processed to their first stable holding point) before the facility doors closed.  The research staff will work on continuing the processing of these samples.  Staff will need PPE (gloves and face shields or masks) if they are going to work near other facility staff. (Assumptions:  PPE will be available and antibody tests are not readily available).  During this time, outside investigator usage of the facility will continue to be limited by appointment only to maintain social distancing and limit occupancy density.  External investigators will be required to wear PPE.  Two to three weeks might be required for staff to catch up with the interrupted research projects.  No training of new investigators will occur during this time frame, nor will staff operation of instrument with a PI present.  New projects might be taken in after a Zoom meeting with the PI and their RA staff, with samples handed off at the door of the facility.  We will relocate some instrumentation within the facility to maximize the number of rooms utilized on a regular basis.  Currently, microtomes tend to be clustered in a single room and they can be readily moved around for social distance spacing.

Facility hours are Monday-Friday, 8 am – 5 pm, with access by appointment

Updates to policy will be posted to:  https://cmrf.research.uiowa.edu/

Signs will be placed on corridor doors stating that all touchable surfaces (keyboards, computer mice, eyepieces, focus knobs and the like) are possible means of transmitting illness

Users who are sick are not allowed to use the facility

PPE, masks or face shields must be used in common areas

External researchers will provide their own masks/face shields, lab coats

Social distancing will be required, aided by single occupancy of rooms

Rooms not in use will have their doors closed

Fresh gloves used when using equipment

Make sure all instruments have gloves and 70% alcohol bottles

Equipment and gloves (if not removed) should be surface decontaminated with 70% EtOH after use

Soap and paper towels are available for hand washing following glove removal.

Initially no training or assisted operation

That will be eased as the risk of transmission decreases

Initial training will be web-based (Zoom, Powerpoint)

One person per room

If sample processing must occur only one person can process in room 98 at a time

A staff member must be present in the facility if someone is sectioning, processing or doing other potentially hazardous operations.