Defining Critical Research

Critical research means essential experiments and the essential personnel to carry them out. These activities are in most cases experimental research in university laboratories and certain clinical trials.

Essential experiments are:

  • Experiments conducted under sponsored funding where ramping down or halting research activities is prohibited by the terms of a sponsored award.  These types of agreements are exceedingly rare.  If you believe that your research award qualifies for this exemption, please contact Bruce Morgan (949-824-5677 or, or Nancy Lewis (949-824-2897 or; or
  • Experiments where the ramping down and/or halting, and subsequent ramping up/restarting would cause irreparable harm to the research project/program such that it could not be completed without incurring excessive costs and/or requiring excessive time; or
  • All research related to improving general knowledge about the SARS CoV-2 virus (which causes the COVID-19 illness), and reducing the spread of COVID-19, including the development and testing of vaccine candidates, and therapeutic treatments; or
  • Clinical trials where the protocol is designed to evaluate one or more interventions for treating a disease, syndrome, condition or to diagnose serious conditions.  However, in the event that UCI Health leaders determine that clinical facilities and resources used to carry out clinical trials must be diverted to the care and treatment of COVID-19 patients, clinical trials will no longer qualify as critical research.  Clinical trials that are ancillary, correlative, observational, or interventional non-treatment trials (i.e., supportive care, screening, prevention diagnostic, etc.), are not critical research; or
  • Experiments that necessarily use UCI’s nuclear reactor, and otherwise qualify as critical research.

Essential personnel are those individuals who are necessary to ensure the ongoing viability of critical research, including:

  • ULAR personnel and laboratory personnel responsible for animal care, where such care is not provided by ULAR,
  • Personnel responsible for equipment maintenance that, if not done, could result in damage or high-cost equipment repairs (e.g., maintaining cryogen on NMR spectrometers, maintaining UCI’s nuclear reactor and its associated equipment and instruments);
  • Researchers working on experiments that have a small window for completion (e.g., the ability to make a specific measurement only a few times a year), and
  • Faculty and/or research staff necessary to maintain research materials that are perishable and not easily replaced.  For example, primary cell lines, and long-term experiments for which there would be considerable cost and/or time associated with requiring the experiment to end (e.g., on-going, continual one-month experiment that requires regular measurements or maintenance otherwise all previous data is lost).