Skip to main content
Phase III+: The University is open for expanded research operations; only authorized personnel will be admitted on campus. More info here.

This message was sent to the Rockefeller community from the Office of the President on March 24, 2020 at 8:05 a.m.
Subject: Campus Community Update
Oop header
Dear Rockefeller Colleagues,

Greetings. I hope this note finds you and your families healthy and safe. Following the closure of the Rockefeller campus on March 18, I am writing to offer an update on the university’s activities.

This is undoubtedly a challenging time at the university, across the state, and around the globe. The health and well-being of all of our employees remains our top priority. We are extremely fortunate to have a community that is not only dedicated to supporting one another but also to finding innovative ways to address the pandemic.

Your commitment and efforts to maintain the cohesiveness of our university is very gratifying, and we are all deeply appreciative that so many members of our community are seeking ways to help.

These are just a few examples:

  • Although most of the university’s laboratories have ceased operations, no fewer than 17 lab heads have jumped in with innovative projects that relate to the diagnosis, prevention and treatment of COVID-19. These laboratories are working passionately to alter the course of the pandemic, now and in the future. A description of these research programs is provided in the attached document.
  • A small and supremely dedicated team of Rockefeller employees remains on site, working to maintain essential operations while the campus is closed, including our colleagues in plant operations, security, lab safety, procurement, finance, human resources, animal care and many other areas.
  • A self-organized group of students and postdocs dubbed the “RU COVID-19 Response Team” is generously offering assistance to those who are in self isolation or need other help. They can be contacted at
  • Other staff members are ensuring that mental health resources, access to health care, and telemedicine options are available to those in need.
  • Many benefit programs, such as mindfulness and yoga classes, are now available online. The RU mobile app is a great place to keep up with such offerings and other campus news and information.
  • The RockEDU Science Outreach team is creating digital virus education materials for science teachers to use with their students, and videos and other learning tools to be shared with families who have attended past Science Saturday events, as well as with students from under-resourced schools. All of these materials will be on their website for anyone to access.
  • Most recently, many Rockefeller labs provided much-needed latex gloves, gowns and masks from their laboratory supplies to neighboring hospitals that are desperately low on these materials. Our glass-washing facility is experimenting with ways to sterilize used personal protection equipment for re-use, and our engineers in the Precision Instrumentation Technologies center (The PIT Crew) are experimenting with methods for fabricating face guards.
  • These activities are testimony to the generosity and strength of the Rockefeller community and the unwavering commitment to our mission. I thank all of you for your many contributions to that effort.

    As a reminder, to prevent the spread of this virus, it is crucial for all of us, our families and friends to continue to maintain social distancing (six feet apart or more) and to continue frequent hand washing. Please be courteous of and patient with others—this is a stressful time for all of us. As one example, please be aware and respectful of housing and elevator policies in Rockefeller housing or in your off-campus residence.

    In addition, I urge you to continue to reach out through Zoom and other platforms to stay in touch with your co-workers, friends, and family to offer support. Distant socializing can be just as important as social distancing.

    I have been very moved by the many colleagues who have asked what they can do to help. This list offers a starting point. In addition, the New York Blood Center is in need of blood donors.

    For additional information, please refer to the Rockefeller website for previous emails and updates. If you have any questions, comments or suggestions, please send emails to

    We are all fortunate to be part of a such a talented, dedicated and supportive community. Many thanks for all you do to ensure that we overcome our current challenges. Our mission has never been more vital.

    With all best wishes,


    Richard P. Lifton, M.D., Ph.D.
    Carson Family Professor
    Laboratory of Human Genetics and Genomics
    The Rockefeller University