Toggle menu M e n u

You are here

January VPR Update

VPR Update

January 13, 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 January installment of VPR Update.

COVID-related research updates

Research leadership will continue to monitor COVID-19 transmission rates to determine when the university can safely expand laboratory density and in-person human research activity.

  • COVID-19 vaccine rollout

    • Michigan Medicine created a webpage that features information and FAQs about its ongoing COVID-19 vaccine rollout. Learn more

    • Please complete the Blue Queue questionnaire to indicate whether you would like to receive the COVID-19 vaccine through the university.

    • The university research community as a whole is not classified under Phase 1A 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) may be eligible for a vaccine at this time and should be notified via Blue Queue.

    • Regardless of COVID-19 vaccination status, research teams must continue to wear face coverings and practice social distancing to prevent virus transmission.

  • In-person human research activity

    • A subset of Tier 2 human research studies (those classified as an observational study or Benefit Level 4) that involve in-person activity remain paused at this time.

      • By February 28, research leadership will reassess whether the subset of Tier 2 human research studies that were paused November 20, 2020 may safely resume in-person activity.

    • If you have any further questions or concerns about the pause, please review the “November 2020 updates to activated studies” section of the Research Re-engagement webpage or contact the Human Research Activation Committee.

  • Laboratory density to remain at 60 percent

    • Laboratories and research spaces will remain at a current operational capacity of 60 percent density.

    • Based on community transmission rates, by February 28, research leadership will reassess whether the university can safely expand laboratory density to 75 percent.

  • COVID-19 metrics across the research community

    • Researchers to date who have been working on campus and tested positive for COVID-19 (May 21 - January 11): 106 (104 Ann Arbor, 2 Dearborn)

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

      • Over the past eight months, there have been no instances of virus transmission between laboratory or research coworkers (which includes testing of asymptomatic close contact coworkers) when proper safety precautions were followed.

  • Surveillance asymptomatic testing available to researchers

    • Members of the university research community who are asymptomatic and interested in COVID-19 testing are encouraged to enroll in the Community Sampling and Tracking Program. There is capacity at this time, but you must register for the program in advance to receive a test. Learn more

Research recovery amid COVID-19

  • The Office of the Vice President for Research continues to assess university financial metrics to measure how the research enterprise is recovering from the COVID-19 pandemic, which caused a decline in spending and productivity. To assess the extent to which our research enterprise is recovering from the pandemic, OVPR is closely following research spending across units. Although this is an imperfect measure, research spending provides a marker of the U-M research enterprise recovery.

    • Total research expenditures are down 8.9 percent (November 2020 relative to November 2019). 

    • Federal research expenditures have rebounded more quickly and are down 4.7 percent (November 2020 relative to November 2019).

    • The rate of research expenditures (and thus, our research enterprise as a whole) is expected to gradually recover as our three campuses continue to expand research and scholarship activity. We will continue to carefully track these metrics.

OVPR seeks nominees for research faculty, research staff awards

MLK Symposium events

  • The university has organized a series of events as part of its 2021 Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Symposium. This year’s virtual event, built around the theme “Where Do We Go From Here?,” includes a keynote at 10 a.m. on January 18. We encourage the U-M research community to engage in this year’s symposium, which aims to emphasize the message and lessons of the late civil rights leader. Learn more.


Stay safe and healthy, and research onward.


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


If you were forwarded this email and would like to receive future installments of VPR Update, please contact