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February VPR Update

VPR Update

February 15, 2021

VPR Update is a monthly email produced by the Office of the Vice President for Research that aims to increase awareness around important research and scholarship items that impact our community. VPR Update is sent to all active researchers, including those engaged in human research, and research administrators across the three U-M campuses.


Rebecca Cunningham

Dear Colleagues,

As part of our ongoing efforts to catalyze, support and safeguard research and scholarship across the three U-M campuses, I am pleased to share with you the February installment of VPR Update.

COVID-related research updates

  • Laboratory density to increase

    • Laboratories and research spaces across our three campuses may expand to an operational capacity of 75 percent density on February 16. Operational capacity is currently 60 percent.

    • Laboratories and research spaces are a controlled environment that have been demonstrated to be safe and not a source of virus transmission when face coverings and social distancing guidelines are followed.

  • In-person human research activity to expand

  • Student testing requirements

    • In order to participate in in-person research and scholarship activity, undergraduate students must complete weekly COVID-19 testing through the Community Sampling and Tracking Program.

    • Weekly testing requirements expand on February 16 to all U-M students – including graduate and professional students – who live on or come to campus (regardless of their vaccination status).

    • Managers and supervisors can validate weekly testing of all students working in labs and research spaces through the ResponsiBLUE app, but please do so in a systematic manner that is equitable across all individuals.

    • Faculty and staff are not required to complete weekly testing, but we strongly encourage all researchers who are working on campus to enroll in the Community Sampling and Tracking Program.

  • Vaccine rollout

    • The university research community as a whole is not classified under Phase 1A or 1B of the state’s COVID-19 Vaccination Prioritization Guidance.

    • Some researchers (based on risk status, age and employment as part of critical infrastructure at Michigan Medicine) are eligible for a vaccine at this time and should be notified via Blue Queue.

    • Michigan Medicine recommends that U-M employees age 65 and older, and those defined by the state as frontline essential workers, also sign up with their local health department and retail pharmacies to maximize their chances of receiving a vaccination appointment.

    • Regardless of vaccination status, research teams must continue to wear face coverings and practice social distancing to prevent virus transmission.

  • Research eligibility

    • Visiting scholars are eligible to participate in in-person research and scholarship activity at the discretion of their principal investigator. This includes visiting scholars who have not previously worked as part of the research team.

  • COVID-19 metrics across the research community

    • Researchers to date who have been working on campus and tested positive for COVID-19 (May 21 - February 11): 120 (118 Ann Arbor, 2 Dearborn)

      • One researcher who has been working in person has tested positive for COVID-19 over the past seven days, with no virus transmission reported in our research workspaces.

U-M again ranks No. 1 in research volume among U.S. publics

  • For a tenth consecutive year, U-M ranks No. 1 in research volume among U.S. public universities, according to the latest Higher Education Research and Development Survey from the National Science Foundation. Research expenditures lead to important advancements in areas ranging from the COVID-19 pandemic to driverless vehicle technology, social justice and carbon neutrality. This ranking is a reflection of the excellence of our research community and the strength of our relationships with external partners.

Managing internal nomination, peer review processes to reduce bias

  • Peer review is an essential component of many elements of the research enterprise, informing the backbone of scholarly publishing and external funding programs. However, we know from scholarship itself that various forms of bias can threaten the integrity and effectiveness of peer review.

  • OVPR developed a new online resource with strategies to reduce bias in peer review, with a focus on internal award nominations and funding programs. The intent is to help educate the research community on ways to mitigate bias and ensure internal review practices are equitable and transparent.

U-M to host human research accreditation virtual site visit in March

  • The university will host a virtual site visit with AAHRPP next month as part of our reaccreditation for the Human Research Protections Program. The site visit will involve virtual interview sessions with select individuals from across our three campuses and the health system. AAHRPP reaccreditation is critical because it reaffirms the university’s commitment to the continuous improvement of its programs and processes that aim to protect the rights and welfare of human research participants. Learn more about the site visit, and if you have any further questions, please contact

Nominations sought for federal service, leadership opportunities

  • The federal government continuously seeks nominations for individuals to serve on federal advisory committees, which cover a wide range of important topics. The U-M Office of Federal Relations developed a webpage with information about current federal advisory committee vacancies, as well as openings on committees at the National Academy of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. The university research community is encouraged to self nominate or nominate U-M colleagues for these opportunities. Please also share your nominations with Assistant Vice President for Research Kristina KoTo receive regular Federal Relations updates, email to sign up for the newsletter.


Stay safe and healthy, and research onward.


Rebecca Cunningham, M.D.
Vice President for Research
William G. Barsan Collegiate Professor of Emergency Medicine


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