COVID-19 Funding and Funding Opportunities

by Mike Lauer, Deputy Director for Extramural Research, NIH

Note: This article was originally published on NIH’s blog, Open Mike

As you can imagine, NIH is devoting significant resources to COVID-19. In addition to dedicating regularly appropriated funds, to date NIH has received emergency funding for COVID-19-related activities in two supplemental bills (available from the NIH Office of Budget website), that together provide:

  • $1.532 billion for NIAID
  • $103.4 million for NHLBI
  • $60 million for NIBIB
  • $36 million for NCATS
  • $30 million for the NIH Office of Director
  • $10 million for NIEHS
  • $10 million for NLM

To get funding as quickly as possible to the research community, we are using Urgent and Emergency competing revisions and administrative supplements to existing grant awards.  This approach allows us to leverage resident expertise, getting additional funding to those researchers who are already working with other organisms, models, or tools so that they can quickly shift focus to the novel coronavirus. These Urgent and Emergency competitive revision Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) allow NIH to fund applications quickly, often in under three months, sometimes much quicker than that, because evaluation for scientific and technical merit is done by an internal review panel convened by staff of the NIH awarding institute or center rather than by our traditional peer review process.

The Urgent and Emergency competing revision FOAs sound very similar. And they are, but there is an important distinction.

  • The Emergency Competitive Revision FOA can only be used for funding available for applications based on a presidentially declared disaster under the Stafford Act, a public health emergency declared by the Secretary, HHS, or other local, regional or national disaster.  This means that for COVID-19 funding, it can only be used by those NIH Institutes and Centers I listed above that received special emergency funding.
  • The Urgent Competitive Revision FOA can be used to meet immediate needs to help address a specific public health crisis in a timely manner. This vehicle is used to help address a specific public health crisis that was unforeseen when the application or progress report was submitted.

When responding to these types of funding opportunities, it is important that you understand how they work.

  • They require applications to be submitted in response to an Emergency or Urgent Notice of Special Interest (NOSI).  We are maintaining a list of COVID-19 specific Notices of Special Interest on our Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Information for NIH Applicants and Recipients of NIH Funding website.
  • You need to read the instructions in the NOSI and in the FOA it points to carefully. If the instructions in the NOSI differ from those in the FOA, follow those in the NOSI.
  • There are specific review criteria specified in the FOA. Make sure you address those as well as any that might be mentioned in the NOSI. They are how NIH staff will evaluate your application for funding.
  • The NOSI will instruct you to include the NOSI number in the Agency Routing Identifier field (Box 4b) of the SF424 (R&R) Form. This information is very important for NIH tracking of spending of emergency award funding. Applications without this information in Box 4b may not be considered for this type of funding.
  • Often the due dates are rolling, meaning you should submit the application as soon as it is ready to get it considered for funding as quickly as possible.

NIH is issuing new COVID-19 related NOSIs frequently. Please check back for these and other COVID-19-related information on our Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19): Information for NIH Applicants and Recipients of NIH Funding website.

Share this post