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Your questions answered – researchers

Updated: 20 March 2020

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Guidance for researchersWhat is King’s doing to support research into COVID-19? | Postdoctoral researchers and research staff | Join the King’s COVID-19 Research Registry


 Guidance for researchers


 

Will I still be able to continue my research after Monday 23 March? 

Many research activities can continue, with staff and research students accessing King’s systems remotely. In particular we would like to encourage colleagues to continue with development and application of external grants. Funders have assured us that they are supporting the grant application process at this time and RMID and faculties are ready to support this.

All lab-based research must now be paused temporarily, from Monday 23 March until at least the end of May 2020. Your planning should enable this work to be restarted effectively when this becomes possible. 

Changes must also be made to how clinical research and participant interactions are conducted as part of research studies. Participant interactions must be conducted remotely from Monday 23 March: if this isn’t possible, these studies may need to be paused. Others could be conducted by changes to the protocol that allow remote interaction. For clinical research, researchers need to follow NHS Trust guidelines. For participant interactions, Please see guidance from the Research Ethics Office.


Can my lab-based research continue?

All lab-based research must now be paused temporarily, from Monday 23 March until at least the end of May 2020. Your planning should enable this work to be restarted effectively when this becomes possible. 

 

A handful of buildings will remain open to support essential services and ongoing critical research. If your research is deemed critical and/or essential at this time, such as research directly related to COVID-19, you will be notified by your faculty or department in due course.


Will I still be able to access experimental facilities?

Research facilities and the Biological Services Unit will be running with limited, essential staff support only from Monday 23 March.  Access to the BSU will be limited to husbandry support from 27 March, including researchers who have offered to help BSU staff. Please see the specific guidance from the BSU.

Access to experimental facilities will be limited to essential maintenance from 27 March.

King’s will endeavour, as far as is practicable to maintain our critical equipment while research is paused, including refilling cryogens where needed. If you have concerns about a particular piece of equipment or experimental setup, please ensure that both your faculty/campus team and Greg Anderson are aware of this. We are we are in close contact with companies to secure supply of cryogens.  

For some faculty-based facilities with specialist equipment, support will need to be locally organised, for example to manage potential freezer failure. Please follow business continuity plans being put in place in your area. 


Will I still be able to use the Biological Sciences Unit?

Biological Services will move to limited, essential, staff support from the week commencing 23 March. As a result, no new animals can be ordered by licensees at this time, and no new procedures should be started. Time critical studies will need to be paused. Further information is available on the RMID guidance page, including a form that individuals should complete to allow the BSU to maintain optimal care of your colonies. Researchers should contact Stephen Woodley with any queries. 


Will I be able to access e-Research facilities?

At present our expectation is that there will be continued access to e-Research facilities (including HPC) such that computational and computer science research should not be affected, except when physical access is required to a local campus-based workstation or server, in which case guidelines for laboratory research will apply. 


I am concerned about the impact of pausing my projects on my grant. What should I do?

Research Grants & Contracts is maintaining a regularly-updated webpage with information from major funders on their response to Coronavirus.

Funders will very likely be sympathetic to requests for extensions to deliver research projects and programs affected by the current crisis. For example UKRI has confirmed it is taking a very pragmatic approach.  

If your research is supported by a major grant funder (for example, UKRI or Wellcome), please speak to your project manager at the funder in the first instance, to let them know of the suspension of work.  Where King’s is not the lead in a research programme, you should notify the project lead/coordinator instead.  Please copy this correspondence to the Post-Award team.

For contract work, please notify your scientific contact and also colleagues in the Contracts team, who will then check through the contract carefully and liaise with the funder. (Please note that NIHR contracts are handled by the Pre-Award team).

You are advised to document, as much as possible, the disruption that you experience, in order to assist with future discussions with funders.

King’s is continuing to engage with funders around this issue in collaboration with other Russell Group universities.  


Can I continue to work with participants on HRA approved studies?

All new recruitment to clinical research studies should stop unless patients are already attending the hospital, or the protocol can be adapted so that this can be done remotely. 

Further information on this can be accessed on the HRA website.


 

Can I get approval for a new study requiring HRA review?

The HRA have advised that they will not be accepting or reviewing any new applications from undergraduates or MSc students for the foreseeable future, with a few exceptions. Further guidance on the exceptions and alternative research options can be found here.

Staff and PhD applications will still be accepted but commencement will be dependent on adaptions to participant interactions as laid out on the HRA website.


Can I continue my work with health volunteer participants?

All healthy volunteer/ human participant research cleared by the College Research Ethics Committee through REMAS, at all risk levels (minimal, low or high) can only continue if the participant interaction element of the study can be conducted remotely i.e. via skype, phone, email etc. If it is not possible to conduct participant interactions remotely, the research must be paused by Monday 23 March.  Exceptions will be made in some cases for ongoing school-based research where the researcher is a teacher conducting research within their own school during normal teaching hours. Further information and guidance on how to action the above changes and processing of new applications can be found on the Research Ethics Office website.


I am due to start a new research project: am I able to do this? 

New lab-based research projects, where the grants have not started, should not begin, unless this work is specifically related to rapid response calls researching COVID-19 (for example, King’s Together). PIs may approach funders to delay start dates; they are likely to be sympathetic to this.


What is King’s doing to support research into COVID-19 (novel Coronavirus)


King’s has an important opportunity and responsibility to use our research expertise in support of the international response to the COVID-19 outbreak.  This goes beyond efforts to find treatments – for example into the effects of the outbreak on mental health (including through isolation), broader social and economic questions for society, the functioning of healthcare systems (including in developing countries), and more directly-linked studies of immunology and physiology.

If you are engaged in research into the SARS-CoV-2 virus and the impacts of the disease it causes, COVID-19, please submit details of your research to the King’s COVID-19 Research Registry, and join a new MS Teams space that’s been set up to stimulate discussion around coronavirus projects, common challenges and opportunities.  

Your participation will help us to coordinate this vital research effort across King’s, and to support efforts in both fundraising and external relations, as we share with the world how our projects are advancing public knowledge about COVID-19.

Please contact rmidcovid19@kcl.ac.uk with any questions.


Postdoctoral researchers and research staff


 

I'm approaching the end of my research contract, where can I get support?

We understand that many of our researchers will be worried about impacts of pausing some lab-based research on their ability to finish projects as they approach the end of research contracts. In the first instance, please discuss your concerns with your PI/ line manager, in terms of what aspects of your work can continue and how. You can also access support and advice from the Centre for Research Staff Development, which offers online appointments for careers support, and support for wellbeing