“I want to add a SARS-CoV-2 component to my ongoing research. Must I request prior approval to do so?”

Funding News Edition: March 17, 2021
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Depending on the scope of your active grant, adding research on SARS-CoV-2 may or may not constitute a change of scope. Remember, changing the scope of your NIH award requires prior approval.

Always contact the program officer listed in your Notice of Award to discuss your plans; he or she can help clarify whether your planned changes may constitute a change in scope. Next, have your institution’s authorized organizational representative send a prior approval request to your award’s assigned grants management specialist, copying the assigned program officer, at least 30 days before the planned use of funds. The formal process is described in our Prior Approvals for Post Award Grant Actions SOP

Here is an example of a study to which adding a SARS-CoV-2 research component is not a change of scope: 

The objective of the parent grant is to study particular aspects of antiviral immunity (mechanisms/cell types) and how different viruses subvert these pathways to escape host immune responses. Adding SARS-CoV-2 studies to determine whether the mechanisms/cell types are also relevant for this virus would not constitute a change in scope because the focus of the study remains on analyzing immune mechanisms/cell types.

Conversely, here is an example of a study to which adding a SARS-CoV-2 research component is a change of scope:

The parent grant focuses on the biology of a specific virus, e.g., MERS-CoV. Adding studies on SARS-CoV-2 represents a change in scope because the research emphasis would be shifted from one disease area to another. To do so requires prior approval.

Changing the scope of your research without NIAID’s prior approval may result in cost disallowance or other enforcement measures as listed in Section 8.5 of the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

You may be interested in requesting an administrative supplement to support a planned SARS-CoV-2 research component. Keep in mind, as stated in our Administrative Supplements to Grants and Cooperative Agreements SOP, these funds cannot be used to expand a project’s scope, i.e., if NIAID awards you an administrative supplement for a SARS-CoV-2 research component, it indicates we assessed the request to be within the scope of your active award.

If instead you need additional funds for an expansion in project scope, request a revision (competing supplement) rather than an administrative supplement. See the Revision of a Grant SOP for details.

Lastly, see Changes to Project or Budget for general advice on actions grantees can take independently and a longer list of post-award actions that require prior approval.

Contact Us

Email us at deaweb@niaid.nih.gov for help navigating NIAID’s grant and contract policies and procedures.

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