ORPC Campus Closure Business Continuity during Emergencies

The interruption of research compliance oversight operations may cause the Office of Research Protections and Compliance (ORPC) to be unable to immediately process protocol submissions or respond to issues related research studies. These interruptions may be of varying scope, severity and duration may last hours, days, weeks, or months.

In considering the timing of recovery from a disruption, the goal is to be able to return to normal operations as soon as possible. In the event UMBC campus is closed and ORPC staff cannot come to campus, staff will review email during the campus downtime period. During campus closures, the ORPC requests that all questions or requests be forwarded to compliance@umbc.edu. The office telephone line, 410-455-2737, will be monitored during this period as well.

All staff members have access to the compliance email box and will act upon requests and questions. Staff members will also use conference calling environments to collaborate on compliance concerns to better respond to investigators. Chairs of compliance committees are available via email or text in the event staff members need to contact them immediately during closure events. The ORPC staff will have the ability to connect to the Kuali system to review and process protocol submissions as well as other databases and document folders found in Box.

IRB, IACUC and IBC protocols

New human subjects research (IRB), animal use (IACUC) and biosafety/biohazardous material use (IBC) protocol applications will be processed following ORPC protocol processing procedures. The ORPC will forward new protocols to reviewers per the specific committee review process. Amendments to or modification of currently approved research will also follow the above processing procedure. ORPC staff will maintain contact with reviewers to ensure appropriate of research and return committee decisions to investigators as timely as possible.  Communication of review questions and concerns or approval of protocols with investigators will be accomplished via Kuali and by using email.

Laboratories with biohazardous materials should follow UMBC Envrionmental Safety and Health (ESH) guidelines and requirements. Contact ESH staff for proper storage and potential disposal of materials when campus facilities are closed.

Principal investigators are expected to submit continuing review reports to the applicable compliance committees as stated on original approval documents. In the event protocols will close during campus downtime. ORPC staff will acknowledge and process closure reports upon receipt to officially conclude that protocol.

Unanticipated problems or adverse events must be submitted during campus downtime to the ORPC as soon as they occur. This requirement may differ from stated compliance committee procedures on the respective web pages. But, due to the ORPC staff not being available on campus, it is incumbent for principal investigators to submit promptly so that the ORPC staff can contact committee members for review of the specific issues and/or concerns.

IRB protocol guidance:

Investigators may experience unexpected events (e.g., broken water lines, extended loss of electricity, natural disasters) which would require researchers a change in research procedures in order to accommodate plans for enrolling and interacting with persons in human subjects research. Investigators should consider a number of steps to ensure continuity of research. These include:  identifying critical research and lab functions to prepare, respond, and recover from an unexpected event; develop a plan of outreach to current participants with whom interactions/lab visits have been established to change to virtual visits; modify informed consent methods from in-person to a virtual review and signature format; and identify and secure valuable or irreplaceable equipment, data, research materials in a lab and plans steps for storage or safekeeping. Protocols must be amended prior to initiating those changes.

Current COVID-19 Return to Campus for RCA Activities Guidance

Effective August 26, 2021, in-person human subjects research, put on hold due to COVID-19 restrictions, may now be conducted on-campus as well as in university human research labs.  See the ORPC myUMBC announcement.

Animal Facilities

Investigators using animals in research must work with facility managers ensure there is adequate animal caretaker personnel for appropriate feeding and husbandry care during campus downtime. During a campus shutdown, investigators whose experiments in progress should continue only if considered essential. Follow IACUC approved caging and breeding procedures.  No new experiments should start or breeding conducted unless considered essential to the research.

Please follow UMBC Procurement’s requirements for placing orders for new animals reagents and supplies; such purchases should be limited to those instances considered essential. Be prepared that such items may be on backorder, or unavailable, or delivery delayed or suspended. Even if research procedures cannot be conducted during a campus closure, animal care must continue. Facility personnel and animal users must be familiar and cross trained with facility and UMBC’s procedures in the event of a campus closure.

Emergencies, accidents, and injuries can occur at any time, without warning.  The ability to respond to emergencies is a responsibility of the UMBC community to prepare for, respond to, mitigate and recover from various critical incidents, major events, emergencies, or disasters that may affect lives, property, and the institution of UMBC. (UMBC Emergency Response Plan, 2019).

The Guide for the Care and Use of Laboratory Animals as well as the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare describe the requirements of disaster planning as well as offer resources for institutions such as UMBC to take into account the well-being of animals and personnel during unexpected events.

Facility personnel and animal users should be familiar with UMBC’s procedures in the event of emergencies. Principal investigators, facility managers, animal caretakers have shared responsibilities to follow facility standard operating procedures of appropriate husbandry and health monitoring of research laboratory animals. In the event of a campus wide emergency, facility managers have the responsibility for confirming staff availability to provide care and making sure the UMBC Police have a current list of names of those who need to be on campus to tend to animals during campus closures/emergencies. The UMBC attending veterinarian is available any anytime with questions or concerns. Any variation to the status of animals must be reported immediately to the veterinarian and the IACUC.

Additional resources can be found on the UMBC Environmental Safety and Health webpage, the UMBC Human Resources site as well as the disaster plan response for animal facilities in the 2011 UMBC Emergency Response Plan. 

Use of Electronic Data

Data collected electronically for analysis and sharing with collaborators from human subjects research, electronic information subject to U.S. Export Control regulations and/or data subject to non-disclosure agreements, confidentiality agreements and data use agreements will be reviewed during a campus closure.

Investigators would continue to ensure that security requirements from a data sources are explained in an IRB application or in a request for export control review.  Data use agreements will be reviewed by established processes from the Office of Sponsored Programs.  The Department of Information Technology (DoIT) needs to be contacted in any instance where an assessment of the security risks is required before gaining access or taking custody of the data.

COI Disclosures

Key personnel identified in proposal submissions or in new awards will submit financial conflict of interest (COI) disclosures will be submitted via Kuali COI.  Annual or other timely updates of COI disclosures are also submitted via Kuali. All disclosures will be processed following ORPC procedures.

Export Control Management

The ORPC staff requests faculty to forward export control questions to compliance@umbc.edu. Questions and concerns will be acted upon accordingly and the ORPC staff will contact members of other VPR offices (e.g., OSP or OTD) during campus downtime to discuss questions of requests. If there is a requirement to create Technology Control Plans (TCPs), ORPC staff will contact faculty to review requirements to create TCPs and forward them to the Associate Vice President of Research for review and approvals.

Departments considering international visitor requests will need to contact International Education Services (IES) to determine if and when they have the ability to consider such requests. Departments who plan to host visitors can contact the ORPC staff and request they perform restricted party screening that may allow departments to move forward with such requests when the campus re-opens.

Other requests or concerns

As stated above, the goal of the ORPC is to be able to return to normal operations as soon as possible. During campus closures, the ORPC requests that all questions or requests be forwarded to compliance@umbc.edu. Reports of complaints or concerns may be submitted to compliance@umbc.edu, the OPRC telephone line (410-455-2737) or online in the ways listed below.

UMBC personnel may send feedback or ask questions through an online form

Anyone can send an anonymous submission via this form

return to OPRC site