See May 14th & 15th for updated information

IMPORTANT: Directive to UCSF Researchers to Cease Research Activities

March 15, 2020

To UCSF Laboratory Research Faculty:

It is imperative that we take action to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our population, to “flatten the curve” and thereby prevent the many unnecessary deaths that will result if our health care system is overwhelmed.

To this end, the Chancellor has directed us to greatly reduce the density of people working in UCSF research laboratories. All principal investigators must communicate immediately with trainees and other lab members to institute the shutdown of all noncritical research activities before 11:59pm on Wednesday, March 18.

We understand that the long-term viability of many research programs during this period will require management of essential animal lines, equipment, liquid nitrogen stocks, and certain long-term experiments. To meet these needs, we request that each laboratory (or neighboring group of laboratories) identify 1-2 key personnel who will be responsible for this essential ongoing maintenance. Laboratories with large numbers of animals are allowed to name as many as 3-4 key personnel. When selecting key personnel, consider those whose commute does not depend on public transportation. (clarification: if the PI listed as a key personnel member, the PI is included as part of these counts.)

When determining the appropriate size of your lab’s “skeleton crew,” please also consider any equipment that might require gas or cryogen monitoring/service, such as deep-storage freezers, electron microscopes, mass spectrometers, and incubators. Keep in mind that any potentially hazardous operation will require at least two trained and qualified persons be present. By the afternoon of March 16, a Lab Ramp-Down Checklist will be available at

In mouse facilities, breeding should be reduced to the minimum possible; no increases in cage counts will be permitted and all researchers should plan for additional reductions of cage counts in the future. Labs using aquatic or avian species are expected to maintain basic animal care and husbandry operations, and labs with USDA-covered animals that require specialized lab care or intensive husbandry operations are expected to continue providing this care.

For all key personnel, it has been mandated that everyone practice good hygiene and social distancing, in part by coordinating with others to minimize time on campus and to avoid being in the lab or animal facilities at the same time as others.

Exceptions to these requirements will be made for studies of COVID-19 that have the potential to mitigate the spread of the pandemic.

To continue their research at home, laboratory members should be encouraged to work on writing projects, literature review, data analysis, or online learning (coding, statistics, etc.). Be sure that lab members are well equipped to work remotely (VPN, Duo, etc.).

Importantly, all PIs are required to respond to this email by filling out the survey at the following link. You will be asked to provide the names and contact information of your designated key personnel, as well as requests for exceptions to allow COVID-19 studies or the continuation of ongoing critical experiments. These requests will be screened by the committee listed at the end of this email, and we expect to grant few exceptions. 

Please direct questions about this policy to the following address: [email protected].

We completely understand that these restrictions go against virtually everything we represent as scientists – and it is heartbreaking to tell a scientist to stop doing experiments. But we hope you appreciate the full magnitude of this crisis, and you understand these short-term setbacks will lead to a better outcome than might otherwise occur.



David O. Morgan, PhD
Department of Physiology
Vice Dean for Research, School of Medicine


Lindsey A. Criswell, MD, MPH, DSc
Department of Medicine
Vice Chancellor of Research


Daniel H. Lowenstein, MD
Department of Neurology
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost


Michael Brainard, PhD
Department of Physiology


Jason Cyster, PhD
Department of Microbiology and Immunology


Tejal Desai, PhD
Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences


Tanja Kortemme, PhD
Department of Bioengineering and Therapeutic Sciences


Dyche Mullins, PhD
Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology


KevanShokat, PhD
Department of Cellular and Molecular Pharmacology


Peter Walter, PhD
Department of Biochemistry and Biophysics


Zena Werb, PhD
Department of Anatomy