NIH Continues To Monitor Pandemic Impact on Grantee Community

Funding News Edition: December 02, 2020
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We know the pandemic has created new hardships for biomedical researchers; it continues to do so and will further into the future.

In his recent blog post Continued Impact of COVID-19 on Biomedical Research, Dr. Michael Lauer, NIH deputy director of extramural research, acknowledges the pandemic’s impact on grantees. Reflecting on the last eight months, he writes, “Across the country, laboratories were shut down (or nearly so), non-COVID clinical trial operations were halted or delayed, and U.S. faculty openings fell by 70 percent.” All this in addition to cancelled scientific and technical conferences; supply chain disruptions and problems acquiring new equipment; and delayed or uncertain graduation schedules and career prospects for trainees and early career scientists.

Dr. Lauer recognizes, “productivity losses are extensive, [as are] daunting challenges (financial and otherwise) for scientists attempting to restart their research programs.”

NIH indexes resources and flexibilities available to researchers at Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Information for NIH Applicants and Recipients of NIH Funding. We recommend you bookmark that page. As new initiatives to support grantees are announced, they will appear there. We will highlight any such notices in this newsletter as well.

The most recent news is that grant applicants should not include contingency plans outlining responses to potential limitations brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. Peer reviewers will not consider contingency plans when scoring applications. While this guidance has been in place since July, the November 4, 2020 Guide notice extends the instruction indefinitely.

For additional analysis of this topic, check out the reports posted on Springer Nature’s The Impact of COVID-19 on the Research Enterprise webpage. Note that the views presented do not necessarily reflect those of NIAID.

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