NIH Posts Guidance on Closures and Cancellations Related to COVID-19

Funding News Edition: March 18, 2020
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For an ongoing clinical trial or human subjects research, consult with your institutional review board and institution about potential measures to protect participants and research staff.

Credit: NIAID

NIH has received numerous inquiries from researchers on practical matters like late applications, salary, stipends, clinical trials, travel, and conference grants, as they relate to closures and cancellations in response to COVID-19. To better inform the research community, NIH posted Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Information for NIH Applicants and Recipients.

That page indexes relevant NIH Guide notices, including:

Consult this guidance for instruction before Contacting Program Officers and Grants Management Specialists.

NIH Guidance Summarized

If you are unable to submit an application or progress report on time due to institution closure or personal quarantine, the late application policy applies. Send your application or progress report as soon as possible upon returning to work, not to exceed the number of days your institution was officially closed or you were personally quarantined. Include a cover letter detailing the delay.

NIH will accept delayed submission of closeout documents—final financial, performance, and other reports—provided that you give proper notice about the delay to your grants management specialist. The same goes for institutions submitting an annual Single Audit report.

For conference or travel awards, organizers should develop plans to offer virtual participation. For meetings directed by NIH program officers, we will seek to reschedule or allow recipients to use funds for a future meeting with similar objectives.

Awardees with nonrefundable costs tied to cancelled travel or conferences may charge those costs to the NIH award so long as the costs were allowable in the first place.

NIH is working with federal partners to set policies for reimbursement of nonrefundable costs for peer reviewers and other volunteers.

NIH defers to the State Department Travel Advisories website for questions related to foreign travel. We defer to institutions and local officials for questions related to large scientific gatherings.

Institutions may pay salaries and stipends to researchers, fellows, and trainees who are unable to work due to COVID-19 concerns, assuming the organization’s policies allow it. Maintain appropriate documentation to provide to your grants management specialist.

If you are conducting a clinical trial or human subjects research, consult with your institutional review board and institution about potential measures to protect participants and research staff. Apply for an administrative supplement should you incur unanticipated costs that cannot be covered by rebudgeting unobligated balances.

Similarly, for ongoing research involving laboratory animals, work with your institutional animal care and use committee (IACUC) to implement a pandemic plan for animal care and use programs. NIH is allowing IACUCs certain flexibilities for conducting review meetings and semiannual animal facility inspections.

Finally, grantees can continue to use preaward costs, no-cost extensions, and rebudgeting as actions to manage their funding without our prior approval.

Keep In Mind

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If you have questions about research funding for SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19, read our February 19, 2020 article NIAID’s Multi-Pronged Response to the COVID-2019 Outbreak.

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