Researchers at Amistad lab strive to maintain work

The Yale research facility at 10 Amistad St.
The Yale research facility at 10 Amistad St. Photo by Florence Dethy.

Since the discovery of the body of Annie Le MED ’13 on Sunday evening, law enforcement agents have filled the building at 10 Amistad St., leaving the researchers who work there scrambling to preserve the integrity of their work.

For the past two days, University officials have granted access to the Amistad building only to those with “important experiments with particular time urgency,” according to a statement issued Monday by University Vice President and Secretary Linda Lorimer. The closure has created an unexpected obstacle for the building’s researchers — many of whom are rushing to meet rapidly approaching deadlines or cultivating cell cultures that require daily attention.

“Inevitably it leads [the research] to be affected,” Yale Stem Cell Center Director Haifan Lin said of the temporary shut-down.

Kevan Herold, an associate professor of immunobiology who also works in a lab at 10 Amistad St., said the time of year has exacerbated the difficulties the tightly restricted access to the building have caused.

Herold explained that many researchers in the building were scrambling to finalize grant applications to meet the National Institutes of Health’s Sept. 25 proposal deadline and were not able to access materials and data left in their labs, information that technically did not have to be accessed with “particular time urgency.”

He added that though many of his colleagues are trying to work from home, “when you prepare a grant, you always need more than what is on your thumb drive.”

Indeed, throughout Monday and Tuesday, individuals were only allowed in the building for short periods of time to take care of absolutely essential duties, Lin said. They were also closely monitored by law enforcement officials at all times while inside.

“[For] cell lines that are growing, [researchers] may have to take care of those,” Herold said, adding that other people, including those in his lab, needed to tend to their animals.

Yale Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee Coordinator Carol Murgo said institutional policy dictates that the animals used for testing at Yale must be looked after and taken care of daily “to ensure their well being.”

As such, individuals conducting research on animals were allowed into the building to complete the activities required to comply with Yale’s rules and regulations for animal testing.

Still, in the wake of the Le tragedy, the majority of the 10 researchers who were contacted yesterday afternoon in their Amistad laboratories declined to comment on their research and why it has been allowed to continue.

Apoorva Tiwari ’11, who works in a lab at Amistad, said she is glad none of her research is time sensitive, adding that not all of her colleagues have been so lucky. Some have been allowed briefly into Amistad to ensure cell cultures they had spent months cultivating did not go to waste, she said.

Floors one through four of the building open today “for business as usual,” Lorimer said Tuesday evening in an announcement posted to the Yale Web site. Access to the basement, however, will remain limited until at least Thursday.

A uniformed Yale Police Department officer will patrol the first four floors of the building between 6 p.m. and 2 a.m. for at least the next week and at least one officer, and perhaps more, will patrol the basement between 7 a.m. and 7 p.m. when it opens for normal use, Lorimer said.

Jessica Letchford contributed reporting.

Comments

  • r

    These people are crazy!! The Yale Police Department needs more than one officer looking after the basement! I understand its hard to keep the basement closed, but at least have more security after a dead body was found there.