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GSBS-specific information regarding COVID-19

We are aware that members of our community may be experiencing significant stressors and information/email overload.  
We invite you to take a moment to pause and decide whether now is the appropriate time for you to read further about GSBS-specific information regarding COVID-19. Information contained on this page is important, but not immediately time sensitive. 


GSBS Community:

The following measures are in place to protect individual and public health as we collectively take what actions we can to slow the community spread of COVID-19. We appreciate your cooperation and efforts to ensure the health and safety of our community. The collaborative and friendly ethos for which GSBS is known will serve us well during this stressful time.

Please be familiar with all COVID-19 related UMMS institutional information and Updates for Students from the Office of Student Life (volunteer opportunities are listed here and open to participation by members of the UMMS community). Our infection control measures depend on our engagement as a caring, respectful, civil community. 

We (GSBS leadership) welcome individual questions and concerns. However, our capacity to respond immediately is limited at this time due to the nature of the situation and volume of requests. Please use the GSBS Student Affairs Suggestion Box for GSBS-specific, COVID-19-related concerns and participate in community town halls and dialog events. Consult your faculty advisors, departments, and program directors for guidance and support.

Updated: May 23, 2020

Until further notice, all members of the UMMS community – learners, staff, and faculty – are encouraged to work in a decentralized manner that maximizes off-site work and remote interaction for both curricular and work activities.

Education and research operations will be adaptive to the global pandemic and will not resemble our pre-COVID operations for the foreseeable future.

UMMS leadership directed the reduction of wet laboratory research activities to a minimal level to protect irreplaceable reagents, cell lines, and animal strains from loss. Effectively, wet laboratory research progress is halted for everyone in our community through at least May 26th.

When a ramp-up of research activity is allowed, Principle Investigators will have the primary responsibility to coordinate best practices for safe laboratory environments in collaboration with their Departments and research teams. We are each responsible for following institutional guidelines for return-to-work, sharing best practices, and providing feedback to individuals and the institution when there are opportunities for improvement.

As needed, a process for rare exemptions for allowing graduate students to conduct on-site activities has been defined. Periodically a call for requests will be distributed. If a need arises prior to the next call for requests, please email Dean Lane directly and CC Annette Stratton.

Students involved in COVID-related research activities are requested to fill out this survey.

Our research community is being trusted to abide by the institutional guidelines. Please do not engage in any on-site activities that would jeopardize this trust, including being on-site if you have not been assigned to be on-site personnel. 

Practice physical distancing 


Until further notice, all members of the UMMS community – learners, staff, and faculty – are encouraged to work in a decentralized manner that maximizes off-site work and remote interactions for both curricular and work activities.  

Students should notify Asst Dean Morgan Thompson, if you anticipate personal challenges that would limit your access to remote work capabilities.  


UMMS Guidelines for Laboratory Personnel

By May 26th, all research personnel must be tested and receive a negative result prior to being on-site.

On a daily basis, prior to coming on-site, all personnel must use the Health Status Tool.

At all times, on-site research personnel are expected to follow the recommended guidelines for remaining at home if they feel ill, universal masking, social distancing, personal hygiene, and not congregating in groups. Provision of food and beverage items on-campus is limited to individually packaged, grab-and-go items until otherwise notified. Do not share food or beverages.

While additional institutional cleaning of common spaces is occurring, it is each of our individual responsibilities to keep our personal workspaces (desks, computers, etc.) regularly cleaned.

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Lab attendance 

Work that can be performed off-site should be. Reading, manuscript preparation, updating laboratory records, TRAC reports, etc. are a few examples of how you might shift work priorities towards productive activities that can be accomplished off-site and contribute to research progress.  

Ensure that your laptops and personal computers are equipped to support remote work (VPN access for R drives, Zoom account, etc.). Reach out to IT as soon as possible if you have questions or concerns and recognize that they are experiencing high traffic and are triaging their responses accordingly. 

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Please post remote events open to the GSBS community (internal only, UMMS login required).

All in-person events sponsored by the GSBS office will be canceled until further notice. Events that can be conducted remotely can proceed.

GSBS Student Affairs is available to advise student organizations about hosting remote events. Student organizations should continue to utilize the Student Life event approval process for all events.

Events hosted by GSBS Programs will offer remote participation options or be canceled. 

Please contact Asst Dean Morgan Thompson for general, best practice guidance for remote event-planning.  

Commencement and Student Achievement Awards

GSBS Commencement and Student Achievement Awards Ceremony will be hosted virtually on May 31st at noon.

GSBS Commencement and Student Awards Ceremony

All are welcome and encouraged to attend.

Watch the ceremony live on the UMMS Facebook or YouTube page.

When the ceremony is complete, show how you celebrated at home using social media (UMMS InstagramTwitter or Facebook; GSBS Twitter).

Immediately following the formal program, join GSBS Dean leadership and staff on Café Zoom for a brief moment of applause for our graduates and award winners to celebrate their achievements together as a community.

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All courses will be conducted online, effective immediately until further notice. Course directors will be in touch with students with further information.

Please notify Dean Lane immediately if you anticipate personal challenges that would limit your access to online learning. 

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Dissertation Defenses 

Dissertation defenses will continue remotely until further notice.

Students who have a DEC scheduled and wish to reschedule their DEC may do so. Please inform Mindy Donovan if you plan to reschedule as soon as possible. We will advise you on how to proceed.

We are temporarily taking the extraordinary measure of relaxing the requirement for in-person participation in dissertation defenses, in recognition of the fact that the scheduled defense date is often tied to external events, such as the initiation of OPT, return to the clinic by MD-PhD students, and postdoc and job start dates.   

Guidelines for conducting a remote dissertation are available and sent to students and DEC chairs when we are notified of an upcoming defense. Questions can be directed to Mindy Donovan.

The defending student will not be the host of the Zoom meeting. Please work with your DEC chair to identify someone who will be responsible for: doing a technical test prior to the defense, hosting the Zoom meeting, and troubleshooting any technical difficulties. We recommend at least two remote technology back-up plans, communicated in-advance to remote participants, in case technical difficulties are encountered. Please contact Mindy Donovan if you have concerns.  

Please arrange remote participation of any guests or recording of the public seminar portion of the exam.   

Some traditional celebratory aspects of the dissertation defense will be delayed. 

If a DEC member is unable to participate remotely (ill, etc.), Mindy Donovan will coordinate with the student, advisor, DEC chair, and Dean Lane to identify another faculty member who can substitute.  

If the student is unable to participate remotely (ill, etc.), the DEC meeting will be rescheduled.   

If there is any disruption to your scheduled defense, please notify Mindy Donovan as soon as possible. We will advise you on how to proceed.

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TRAC meetings  

TRAC meetings are expected to be scheduled and proceed remotely with minimal delay or disruption. Guidelines for conducting a remote TRAC meeting are forthcoming and will be posted here. 

The meeting must be conducted remotely using Zoom until further notice.   

If more than one TRAC member, or the student is unable to participate remotely (ill, etc.), the TRAC meeting will be rescheduled. If there is a disruption to your scheduled meeting, please notify Mindy Donovan as soon as possible. We will advise you on how to proceed.

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Qualifying Exams (QEs)

Both the Specific Aims meetings and the written proposal portions of the QE are expected to proceed with minimal delay or disruption. 

Specific Aims meetings will be conducted remotely using Zoom. Guidelines are available and sent to students and General Examiners at their request. 

The in-person, oral portion of the QE, including any scheduled retests for exams that have already taken place, must be rescheduled or delayed until further notice. Oral exams already scheduled between now until at least June 1st will be postponed.

Guidelines for remotely proceeding with the oral portion of the QE are forthcoming; please refrain from taking further action on the oral portion of the exam prior to receiving the new guidance.

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Meetings with GSBS Deans’ Office personnel 

The GSBS office staff and Dean leadership is working remotely until further notice. Schedule appointments with, or through, the appropriate GSBS staff members as you would normally, and you will receive a Zoom link. Additional opportunities for communication and dialog are being announced on an ongoing basis. Please participate actively so that we maintain social connectedness and community while practicing physical distancing.

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Off-site work began near the end of the Spring L1 rotation period. Students were expected to complete the Spring L1 rotation off-site by completing written and/or remote oral reports with minimal disruption or delay. If you did not complete your Spring L1 rotation, please reach out to Annette Stratton immediately.

For the Spring L2 rotation period:

Students with a thesis lab commitment will complete the Spring L2 rotation in their chosen thesis lab. Students are allowed to resume on-site work at the discretion of their faculty advisor and following all institutional guidelines for return.

Students without a thesis lab commitment:

  • Off-site, dry lab rotations can proceed.
  • On-site, wet lab rotations will begin at a time to be determined following the first phases of the research ramp-up.
  • To receive credit for the Spring L2 rotation period students are required to attend twice weekly sessions (Mondays and Fridays, 3-4 p.m.) with faculty to gain exposure to a range of potential rotation opportunities.
  • A facilitated rotation matching process will be announced shortly.

Students from a limited set of GSBS programs matriculating for a July 1 start date will receive guidance about rotations, if applicable.

Students matriculating for a September 1 start date will receive guidance about rotations at a later date.

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Please refer to institutional guidance. 

For all personal travel, please be aware that your academic progress may be affected if you choose to travel and are unable to return to campus in a timely fashion due to the rapidly evolving travel restrictions. Institutional accommodations for academic disruptions will not be made for personal travel.

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Off-campus UMMS work-related events 

Please refer to institutional guidance. 

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Archived Communications

View archived GSBS-specific communications (internal)

View Chancellor's Town Hall communications (internal)

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GSBS Community Resources

Post remote events open to the GSBS community (internal)

GSBS Community Offerings via Sharepoint

We are confident in the ability of our community to support one another. Resources we recommend include:

UMMS Employee Assistance Program

CDC resources for navigating stressors and mental health

NIH Office of Intramural Training and Education