Funding for Exploratory Research in Puerto Rico and U.S. Virgin Islands

Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands are still experiencing collective, territory-wide disruptions following hurricanes Irma and Maria, which creates a unique challenge to recovery.

Researchers have previously identified environmental risk factors to public health that follow natural disasters: exposure to chemical or biological toxins in water, air, or soil; waterborne infectious agents; physical hazards due to fallen debris or damage to structures; exposure to extreme heat or cold.

Several NIH institutes now seek to extend disaster research beyond documenting the known general risk factors that populations face and their health impact by funding exploratory or developmental research projects through the funding opportunity announcement (FOA) Time-Sensitive Research on Health Risk and Resilience After Hurricanes Irma and Maria in Puerto Rico and the US Virgin Islands (R21, Clinical Trial Not Allowed).

An Accelerated Timeline

This FOA calls for time-sensitive research projects, such that delays in study initiation might preclude addressing certain research questions or collecting certain types of data. For example, your project may call for data collection before and after restoration of power, re-opening of schools, health clinics, and social service agencies.

To facilitate that goal, NIH will accelerate the review and award process for responsive applications. Following the April 16, 2018 submission deadline and expedited peer review, applications recommended for funding will receive August Advisory Council review in mid- or late-July. We anticipate the entire cycle from submission to award to take three to four months.

Scientific Objectives

Propose to examine interrelationships among psychosocial stressors experienced by residents of Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands; individual, family, organizational, and/or community-level responses; and current physical health or mental health status and/or risk factors for future chronic disease.

Take an approach that encompasses multiple domains (e.g., biological, behavioral, socio-cultural, environmental, physical environment, or health system) and multiple levels (e.g., individual, interpersonal, community, societal) to understand post-hurricane health risk and resilience.

Keep in mind, NIH will consider applications proposing the following to be nonresponsive:

  • Projects enrolling participants who are not current residents of Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands
  • Projects in Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands not directly related to the recent hurricanes
  • Projects that exclusively examine hurricane-related environmental exposures
  • Animal studies
  • Clinical trials

Project Parameters

This FOA uses the exploratory/developmental research project (R21) activity code. As such, your proposed project period cannot exceed two years.

The combined budget for direct costs for the two-year project period may not exceed $275,000. You cannot request more than $200,000 in any single year.

NIAID is committing up to $500,000 in fiscal year 2018 to fund meritorious applications proposing research within NIAID’s mission.

In addition, the budget allocation to organizations outside Puerto Rico or the U.S. Virgin Islands is limited to no more than 15 percent of annual direct costs.

Direct questions to Dr. Ken Santora, NIAID’s scientific/research contact for this FOA.

Content last reviewed on March 6, 2018

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