Written by Dr. Zachary T. Campbell
As the scale of the SARS Cov2 pandemic became apparent in March, universities began to consider the unimaginable – suspension of all in-person activities. It seemed far-fetched that this would come to pass. Yet, quarantines have been a federal power since 1878 but seldom exercised. The central question for researchers became – how to mitigate risk caused by a rapid cessation of ongoing activates? The answer to this question is both complex and idiosyncratic.
Our lab is heavily dependent on murine models maintained in the animal facility. We maintain multiple genetically defined lines that can cost tens of thousands of dollars to generate and require months to years of breeding to obtain appropriate strains. The inability to maintain a colony could easily lead to loss of strains. This would be costly. At UTD, countless trainee projects hinge on these resources. Thankfully, the Office of Research stepped up in a huge way.
Despite the incredible uncertainty associated with how the research would be impacted by the pandemic, the members of the Lab Animal Resource Center (LARC) worked with us to support our colony and ensure the highest standards in animal care. Bradly Woody, Steven Lucas, and Briana Torres-Cortes were with my group at every step to make sure that the animals were well taken care of. In the midst of the crisis, IACUC led by Dr. Tres Thompson continued to meet to discuss the best ways to support research during the crisis. Drs. Tony Myers and Egeenee Daniels worked to provide outstanding veterinary care throughout and inspect the facility. Kathan McCallister and Cynthia Tralmer ensured that protocols are reviewed in a timely fashion. The response of the animal research team to the outbreak has ensured that the worst outcomes were not realized. For my group, this pause will not have a long-term negative impact because of their sustained efforts. On behalf of all of the members of my team, I thank every member of the Office of Research and LARC who worked tirelessly to support research continuity. Thank you for your heroic efforts.