Washington Update

NIGMS Announces Support Related to COVID-19 Closures and Training

By: Jacqueline Robinson-Hamm
Thursday, October 1, 2020

During the September 17 meeting of the National Advisory General Medicine Sciences Council, Jon Lorsch, PhD, Director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), shared several updates on the Institute’s current and forthcoming activities.

As part of broader National Institutes of Health flexibilities implemented to address reduced productivity as a result of COVID-19-related closures, NIGMS made 35 paid extensions to individual F and K awardees whose grants were ending before October 1, 2020. These paid extensions provided additional supported time for early-career researchers who may have otherwise lacked funding. Dr. Lorsch announced that NIGMS also expects to offer similar flexibilities to eligible individuals with F or K awards ending in November 2020.

Through two Notices of Special Interest (NOT-GM-20-025 and NOT-GM-20-027), NIGMS quickly pivoted to support COVID-19 research areas focused on modeling and forecasting the spread of SARS-CoV-2 and repurposing diagnostic or therapeutics already under development for use against COVID-19. Twenty-two awards were made totaling $7.4 million.

Recently, NIGMS issued Notices of Special Interest focused on training programs (NOT-GM-20-016 and NOT-GM-20-018). Four applications on lab, chemical, and physical safety and all ten applications to create training modules to promote safe and inclusive training environments were funded.

To support training while many scientists worked from home during the pandemic, NIGMS launched a webinar series. Topics focused on career development and covered a broad range — from entrepreneurship to cryogenic electron microscopy and more. Webinars are available for viewing on demand on the NIGMS YouTube channel.

The session closed with a Council discussion of how to change the culture of the biomedical research enterprise to make it more inclusive, safe, and equitable, notably focusing on anti-racist actions.