Phased Return to Clinical Research and Other Research Activities

Published by David B. Roth, MD, PhD, on May 11, 2020

May 11 Update: From the Chair

Dear Members of the Pathology and Laboratory Medicine Community,

As we move ahead with our Project Resurgence, please remember that Governor Wolf has extended the shelter-in-place order through June 4 for the Philadelphia region. At the same time, we anticipate that the volume of COVID-19 patients in our hospitals will continue to decrease slowly over several weeks.

It is crucial that we continue to lead our communities in maintaining vigilance with the best practices to avoid transmission of the disease, including in our interactions with each other. Our universal masking policy remains in effect in all clinical facilities, and appropriate PPE protocols must be followed when caring for patients. Physical distancing is also important: Employees should avoid groups of two or more when eating or taking breaks. Please refer to the specific PPE Protocols for your entity or place of work.

We are working on a phased return to clinical research. Until the "shelter in place" restrictions are lifted, only Essential Clinical Trials and COVID Clinical Research are permissible as clinical research activity. The Vice Dean & Chief Clinical Research Officer informs us: "New and existing clinical trials and non-interventional clinical research where the research activities that must occur on site can occur during inpatient stays and during patients' already-scheduled clinical visits and those same research activities can be executed without requiring that clinical research support staff return to campus. PIs must confirm that imaging, IDS, CHPS, CVPF and all other research specific services have essential staff on site and are available to execute the trial. Clinical research that can be conducted remotely should continue to be conducted remotely with all staff working remotely."

The Office of the Executive Vice Dean and Chief Scientific Officer is working on the resumption of PSOM research activities and a gradual return to work. I will update you accordingly. Right now, the guidelines for essential COVID-19 research and other essential functions remain in place. The Office is also looking for feedback in order to prepare properly for the gradual return to work and campus. You can access the survey here.

A special thank-you to Drs. Dan Herman, Ping Wang, and the teams who significantly contributed to bringing the Abbott SARS-CoV-2 IgG assay online in a rapid fashion, including method validation, specimen pulling and processing, and test build!

Team Endocrinology: Team IS: Team Autolab: Team Immunology:
Lois Balshem Ceasar Bautista Nicole Bademan Andrew Gaano
Donna Colins Sandy Lopez Diana Bridge Joyce Gonzalez
Vladimir Khrichenko Andrea Lurie Rashmi Patel Erin Henry
Agnes Knee Penny Martin Alfred Radona Faye Sheinman
Beth Lussier   Theodore Rutledge Latefah Waller
Nancy Mayer   Shaun Wengert  
Gary Moore      
Jennifer Tea      


The American Red Cross continues to host emergency blood drives around the region to mitigate the ongoing shortage of blood. Sign up for a blood drive near you.

One more joyful piece of news: Starting this week, we will begin to see paper flowers placed in the beds in front of the hospital for each patient who has survived COVID-19 and was able to leave.

Many of you have been pushed outside of your comfort zones. Others have been making heroic efforts on behalf of others. Be sure to spend some time taking care of yourselves. If you don't take care of yourself, sooner or later you may not be able to take care of someone else.

David Roth

David B. Roth, MD, PhD, is the Simon Flexner Professor and Chair of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine

Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in these blog columns are those of the authors or other attributed individuals and do not necessarily represent the official position of the Department, Penn Medicine, or the University of Pennsylvania. Health information is provided for educational purposes and should not be used as a source of medical advice or diagnosis.