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University of Basel

Information and guidelines for researchers

This page informs researchers about current measures in connection with the Corona virus. The information is updated continuously, most recently on 01 April 2020, 12:15 am.

On Friday March 20, the Federal Council communicated more stringent measures to contain the corona pandemic. The Rectorate is also tightening its regulations for research activities. In this way we want to make an additional contribution - in the current critical phase - to slowing down the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

With immediate effect and until further notice, the University of Basel is switching research to emergency operations. All research activities that require a physical presence at university facilities must be reduced to a minimum, new experiments should not be started. All research activities that can be carried out in the home office will continue as before.

Accordingly, all preparations must be made with immediate effect in order to reduce experimental operations to the indispensable minimum. Ongoing experiments should be completed as quickly as possible. For the continuation of remaining research activities that depend on physical presence at university facilities, all research units (departments) require an approved operating concept from March 25, 2020 noon onwards. The operating concept must ensure that high safety and hygiene standards are maintained.

These measures ensure a viable operating concept for necessary research projects, which require a physical presence on site and which cannot be moved or carried out digitally, and whose termination would lead to considerable losses. 

Clinical research 

Clinical research at the DKF (with contact to patients / study participants) is the responsibility of the university hospitals/clinics; the decision on the continuation of research projects is made by the university hospitals in coordination with the Medical Faculty.

Compliance with tightening safety and hygiene standards

All research activities that require a physical presence at the university require an approved operating concept, which describes and ensures compliance with tight safety and hygiene standards:

  • Only one person per room (office or laboratory) is allowed at any one time. The same applies to jointly used rooms and workplaces (e.g. measuring equipment, core facilities). Overlaps are to be avoided by using a suitable booking system.

  • In the case of jointly used rooms, workplaces and equipment, effective cleaning and disinfection between different users must be ensured. Appropriate SOPs are in place. If this is not possible, the operation must be discontinued.

  • Investigations or face-to-face interviews / meetings with voluntary study participants / test persons for research purposes (with the exception of COVID-19 research) are prohibited and can only be continued with an exceptional approval of the responsible ethics committee.
  • Meetings and discussions, even those between two persons, are to be conducted exclusively by telephone or virtually; the university provides suitable systems for video conferencing (https://its.unibas.ch/de/anleitungen/applikationen-websites/digitale-meetings-und-unterrichtsformen/).
  • The use of common rooms, coffee kitchens, etc. is not permitted; the use of lifts should be avoided.

Services, research infrastructures and core facilities

In the operating concept, the organisational units define which indispensable, critical infrastructures, services and core facilities are required for the necessary research activities and are operated in compliance with the above-mentioned safety and hygiene standards. This includes maintenance and servicing work that is absolutely necessary to ensure operation and that cannot be postponed. The research units (departments) specify the technical / administrative staff and security personnel with operationally relevant tasks who must have access for this purpose. Non-essential infrastructures, services and core facilities, as well as facilities that do not allow effective cleaning and disinfection, will be closed.

In particular, staff of IT services that support IT systems with high availability requirements and support the conversion of research and teaching operations to digital systems on site are considered indispensable.

Operational concept 

The head of the research unit (department) submits specific operational concepts and an implementation plan for all sites of the unit to the Faculty (Dean’s office) for approval. The operating concept must explain how compliance with the rules is checked and documented. Exceptions from the "One person per room rule" mentioned above are only possible in well justified exceptional cases and under strict adherence to the rules of distance and hygiene (SOP). The existing regulations on occupational and laboratory safety continue to apply. 

The Faculty leadership informs the applicants and the Vice Rectorate Research about the granted approvals.

Compliance with the safety and hygiene standards is subject to external checks. In case of non-compliance, the approval of the operating concept is revoked, which results in an immediate cessation of activities.

Support for researchers

The measures to contain the COVID 19 pandemic not only severely restrict our daily lives, but also interfere with the work of our researchers. Young scientists are particularly affected. The university management is aware of the problem and will provide flexible solutions for scientists who cannot carry out their research projects within the planned time-frame due to the pandemic. So far, the following regulations apply:

  • Tenure-track assistant professorships may postpone the evaluation date by six months. If the crisis and the restriction of research activities continue for longer than expected, a postponement of one year will be considered upon request. 

  • According to the OWP (§23), the employment of assistants (doctorate, PostDoc) can be extended beyond the maximum period of employment upon request. 

  • Insofar as experimental semester/project work, Bachelor's thesis, Master's thesis must be interrupted or delayed by these measures, the submission deadline can be postponed accordingly upon request to the faculty.

  • For SNSF funded projects ending before 31 December 2020, a cost-neutral extension can be requested. If funds are not sufficient to cover the extension period, you can apply for an additional contribution of two months. For projects ending after 31 December 2020, an application for a cost-neutral extension can be applied two to four months before the end of the project.

    The SNSF also offers the possibility to apply for transitional funding in the event that applications cannot be submitted before 1 October due to the crisis. The funding covers the gap between 1 October 2020 and 31 March 2021.
    Further information on SNSF measures can be found on the SNSF website and in the FAQ on COVID-19. We also recommend to subscribe for the SNSF newsletter.

  • Horizon 2020 projects: The European Commission considers the Corona crisis as "force majeure" according to article 51 of the Grant Agreement. Researchers who are unable to carry out the research project as planned due to the crisis are required to contact the project officer at the European Commission immediately via the Funding and Tenders Portal. The Commission will decide on a case-by-case basis on how to proceed. Please also inform the Grants Office in this case. Further information, such as the reimbursement of costs, can be found here.

Funding for COVID-19 research

The University welcomes the commitment of numerous researchers who, within the framework of their own research, are helping to raise the knowledge about COVID-19 and make their insights publically available. Please take note of additional funding opportunities for COVID-19 research:

  • IMI Call 21 Development of therapeutics and diagnostics combatting coronavirus infections (Deadline: 31 March 2020)

  • BRCCH Fast Track Call: Emergency Response to COVID-19 (Deadline: 8 April, 11:00) https://brc.ch/ftc/

  • Call for Collaborators: Crowdhelix is seeking researchers & innovators worldwide with a strong track record of excellence in fields relevant to the global effort to tackle the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

Questions and feedback

For questions, comments or suggestions please contact corona-research@unibas.ch.

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