NIAMS Guidance for New COVID-19 Research and Supplemental Funding
NIAMS is taking several approaches noted below to support new research and ensure the continuity of our research efforts in response to COVID-19.
New Research Funding for COVID-19: In response to the COVID-19 outbreak, NIAMS has announced a Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) promoting research on COVID-19 and rheumatic, musculoskeletal and skin diseases.
In addition, NIAMS participates in several NIH wide programs that highlight the urgent need for research on SARS-CoV-2. This includes the RADx-UP Program and the INCLUDE Project.
These programs are described in greater detail below.
Supplemental Funding COVID-19: NIAMS understands that many of its grantees may require supplemental funding to help mitigate the disruptions and negative impacts they have experienced during this public health emergency. Here are some of the options available:
NIAMS grant recipients are still able to submit requests for administrative supplements to existing awards at any time utilizing the parent announcement, PA-20-272. However, NIAMS does not currently have funding specifically available for research supplements directly related to COVID-19.
NIAMS recommends that institutions hold off on submitting COVID-19-related administrative supplement requests until such time as:
- the full impact of the pandemic on the grant’s research plans and progress is clear, and
- recipients have had the chance to discuss the various options (including the use of rebudgeting and the use of carryover funds) with their program officer and grants management specialist and have agreed that an administrative supplement is the best option for their project.
New Programs for SARS-CoV-2/COVID-2019 Response
In addition to administrative supplements, NIAMS offers funding opportunities through its own NOSI as well as NIH wide programs. These include:
- The National Institutes of Health (NIH) has published two Research Opportunity Announcements (ROAs) as part of its new Post-Acute Sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 Infection (PASC) Initiative.
- Recovery Cohort ROA (PDF, OTA-21-015B) soliciting proposals for studies involving (a) clinical recovery cohorts, (b) EHR and other real-world data, and (c) autopsy cohorts; proposals must be received by 5:00 pm, March 23, 2021.
- Cores ROA (PDF, OTA-21-015A) soliciting proposals for (a) a Data Resource Core, (b) a Clinical Studies Core, and (c) a Biospecimen Core; proposals must be received by 5:00 pm, March 16, 2021.
- NIAMS Notice of Special Interest : Promoting Research on COVID-19 and Rheumatic, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases - This NOSI promotes basic, translational, pre-clinical and clinical observational research focused on COVID-19 infection and its intersection with rheumatic, musculoskeletal, and skin diseases and conditions, and applies to due dates on or after February 5, 2021 and subsequent receipt dates through November 18, 2021.
- RADx Program - NIH created the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) Program to develop, validate, improve, and implement testing and to accelerate research and develop technologies for rapid testing at the point of care. NIAMS is participating in the following NOSIs and FOAs under the RADx Underserved Populations (RADx-UP) program:
- Notice of Intent to Publish a Research Opportunity Announcement for RADx-UP Return to School Diagnostic Testing Approaches (OT2 Clinical Trial Required) (NOT-OD-21-065) - This Notice is to alert the community that NIH plans to publish a Research Opportunity (RO) as part of the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics for Underserved Populations (RADx-UP) initiative to solicit research on COVID-19 diagnostic testing approaches to safely return children and staff to the in-person school setting in underserved and vulnerable communities.
- Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Emergency Competitive Revisions for Community-engaged COVID-19 Testing Interventions among Underserved and Vulnerable Populations – RADx-UP Phase II (Emergency Supplement - Clinical Trial Optional) - This NOSI provides an expedited funding mechanism to support Phase II of the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics – Underserved Populations (RADxSM-UP) initiative.
- Emergency Awards: Community-engaged COVID-19 Testing Interventions among Underserved and Vulnerable Populations – RADx-UP Phase II (U01 Clinical Trial Optional) - This FOA provides an expedited funding mechanism to support Phase II of the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics – Underserved Populations (RADxSM-UP) initiative.
- Emergency Award: RADx-UP - Social, Ethical, and Behavioral Implications (SEBI) Research on Disparities in COVID-19 Testing among Underserved and Vulnerable Populations (U01 Clinical Trials Optional) - This FOA uses an emergency U01 mechanism to support the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics-Radical (RADxSM-UP) initiative.
- INCLUDE (INvestigation of Co-occurring conditions across the Lifespan to Understand Down syndromE) Project - NIH has issued several NOSIs to highlight the urgent need for research on Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in individuals with Down syndrome in conjunction with the INCLUDE Project. NIAMS is specifically participating in the following NOSI(s):
- Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) regarding the Availability of Urgent Competitive Revisions and Administrative Supplements for Research on Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) in Individuals with Down Syndrome for the INCLUDE Project (NOT-OD-20-129).
- Notice of Special Interest (NOSI): Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Award (NRSA) Fellowship Awards to Support Training in Research Related to Down Syndrome as Part of the INCLUDE Project (NOT-OD-20-020).
NIAMS Guidance Regarding COVID-19 Flexibilities for Trainees and Other Early-Career Researchers
Regarding the impact on early career investigators, fellows, junior faculty, and trainees, NIAMS agrees that the pandemic and shutdown of labs has posed several unique challenges to these investigators whose research career is essentially on hold. In addressing these concerns, NIH and NIAMS has made a concerted effort to make sure that faculty members in their early careers have maximum flexibility to continue their research on NIH grants.
Some of these flexibilities include:
No Cost Extensions: For Phased awards (e.g. K99) and other training, fellowship and career development awards where extensions are usually limited, NIH will consider extensions that are made by request from the Principal Investigator and the Authorized Organization Representative (AOR). Recipients may also submit prior approval requests for second no-cost extensions. These requests must include a justification outlining the impact of COVID-19 on the recipient’s training and career development activities and will be considered by the funding IC(s) on a case by case basis.
This also applies to circumstances when NIAMS K99 recipients are not able to transition to an R00 award due to COVID-19. NIAMS will consider extensions for obtaining faculty positions. Requests should be made for up to 12 months with each increment.
Funded Extensions: F and K award recipients in their final year or in a first no cost extension (NCE), may request a funded extension via the AOR.
To facilitate consistency and a simpler administrative review, NIAMS funded extension requests be submitted electronically through Administrative Supplements to Existing NIH Grants and Cooperative Agreements Parent Announcement, PA-20-272. Funded extension supplement applications should reference NOT-OD-21-052 in Section 4b of their SF 424 forms.
These requests will be considered by NIAMS on a case-by-case basis using the following considerations and eligibility criteria:
- Awards must be in their final year or in the first No Cost Extension (NCE)
- Budget requests should be limited to support provided up to 6 months or the amount of time that the awardee was prevented from working on the aims of their project, whichever is shorter. Extensions typically will not exceed the time that the training or career development activities were suspended unless there were significant additional hardships.
- Justifications should explain how training or career development activities have been significantly hindered over and above lost research productivity that most individuals experienced because of COVID-19 related shutdowns.
- Requests that will cause individuals to exceed their current limit for NRSA support require a strong justification that highlights the hardships caused by COVID-19.
- Applications must be received by July 1, 2021 to be considered for FY2021 funding.
- Requests are considered pending the availability of funds.
- Applications will require a statement of need included with the Research Plan that will:
- Explain how research training or career development significantly suffered above and beyond lost research productivity that most individuals experienced because of COVID-19 related shutdowns. This may include loss of job opportunities.
- Detail time lost and lack of access to essential institutional facilities and/or resources and dates when those resources were unavailable.
- Describe the research and career development activities that will be performed during the extension period, how those activities relate to the originally proposed research and career development plans, and how the supplemental funds will be used to increase or preserve the likelihood for the project to succeed.
- Institutional commitment letter
- Budget requests are limited to no more than the amount of the current parent award, prorated, and must reflect the actual needs of the proposed project. Funds for salary, fringe, and research support can be requested.
- The budget justification should include a description of any additional funds available to ensure sustained research, the availability of carryover funds from previous years, and any local assistance, including matching funds or specified 'in kind' support should be described.
- For predoctoral or postdoctoral fellowships, indicate whether tuition funds are being requested.
- Provide the training stage (e.g., fourth year postdoctoral fellow) and the amount of time requested (e.g., 3 months).
Interruptions to Research Activities
Please contact NIAMS staff if you need to stop or reduce research activities on a K award to provide clinical care to COVID-19 patients to discuss your options. You may be able to reduce effort, request an extension or take a leave of absence.
For T32 awards, please consult with NIAMS staff if you have difficulty filling spots, unused funds or need to cancel a program. Since needs and circumstances vary, NIAMS will consider requests on a case by case basis.
NIH routinely updates Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) that specifically address Training, Fellowship and Career Development Awards which can be found our NIH’s Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Information for NIH Applicants and Recipients of NIH Funding Page.
For more information on Extensions for Early Career Scientists whose career trajectories have been significantly impacted by COVID-19, please refer to NOT-OD-21-052.
Visit combatCOVID.hhs.gov for more information to help you make decisions about your health and what you can do to join the fight against COVID-19.
For questions on COVID-19 funding, please email NIAMS_COVIDfirstname.lastname@example.org.