Washington Update

NIH Issues Reminders and Guidance for Grant Applicants

By: Yvette Seger
Thursday, September 16, 2021

Throughout the month of August, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) issued several guidance documents regarding policies for applicants to consider as they prepare grant proposals for the upcoming fall and winter deadlines.

Recognizing that institutions continue to grapple with public health and workplace safety issues associated with the COVID-19 pandemic, NIH issued a notice extending the special exception allowing post-submission of preliminary data for applications submitted for the Spring 2022 review cycle (September 25, 2021, and onward). Applicants are limited to a one-page update submitted within 30 days of the study section meeting. The exception for post-submission preliminary data is in addition to materials accepted prior to adoption of COVID-19 pandemic flexibilities.

In addition to continuing post-submission flexibilities, NIH clarified that reviewers will continue to be instructed to assume that constraints arising as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic will be resolved during the project period and should not affect scores. Therefore, applicants should not include contingency or recovery plans in the research proposal. Applicants may address pandemic-related effects on productivity or other scoreable issues as part of the Biosketch Personal Statement.

For institutions recently affected by Hurricanes Henri and Ida, NIH reissued its Natural Disaster Policy, allowing flexibilities for grant application and report materials.