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NCI Funding during the COVID-19 Public Health Emergency

, by NCI Director, Dr. Norman E. Sharpless

NCI Director Dr. Norman E. Sharpless

In the midst of the COVID-19 public health emergency, NCI Director, Dr. Norman E. Sharpless takes the time to update the NCI grantee community about funding operations. While he points to NIH guidance about various resources, he directly addresses the NCI peer review schedule, format and process, in addition to highlighting NCI’s specific program staff and grants administration resources. 

As we understand so well, biomedical research improves public health through scientific discovery. The COVID-19 pandemic only reinforces the importance of our work and the work of so many others who are dedicated to protecting and improving public health. I want to assure you that NCI, in partnership with NIH, is taking affirmative steps to support the extramural cancer research enterprise during this challenging time.  

I encourage you to read the recent post on NIH’s Open Mike blog about NIH operations during this public health emergency. NIH has established a comprehensive resource with guidance for grant applicants and funding recipients on NIH grant operations. I also recommend checking this resource often over the coming weeks, as additional notices will be posted on a regular basis.

At NCI, we are committed to sustaining progress against cancer, now and always. With this commitment in mind, earlier this month I asked NCI Principal Deputy Director Doug Lowy, M.D., to lead an NCI task force with a broad mandate, which includes maintaining the continuity of NCI operations during this public health emergency, including operations that support NCI extramural research. 

I am also deeply involved, working with other NIH institute directors and our colleagues at the Department of Health and Human Services as we respond to evolving developments related to COVID-19. NCI employees continue to work, many teleworking from home, to sustain our interactions with the extramural community.

With that background, let me share a few updates on NCI extramural operations given the rapidly evolving situation we are witnessing.

NCI Peer Review 

The NCI Division of Extramural Activities will ensure that all previously scheduled peer review meetings proceed using one of three alternate meeting formats that NIH identified: telephone-assisted, virtual, or video-assisted. Reviewers can find more information on these formats on the NIH Tools and Technology web page

If you are participating in the peer review of applications submitted to NCI, we ask you to please be flexible about the scheduling and the meeting format so that incoming applications can continue to be reviewed in a timely way. 

NCI Program Staff 

Once peer review is complete and grant applicants have access to summary statements, applicants should contact the appropriate NCI program director. Applicants will find contact information for the program director in the top left corner of the summary statement. 

If you are not sure whom to contact, the appropriate contact for your application can be found on our Grants & Training webpage.  

If you have questions regarding grant applications you submitted, please pose your questions through eRA Commons.

NCI Grants Administration 

The NCI Office of Grants Administration continues to issue grant awards, revisions, and post-award actions. NCI staff will be following the NIH guidance on coronavirus administrative flexibilities related to grant awards. 

If you have questions about your awarded grant, please contact the grants management specialist listed on your Notice of Award. If you aren’t sure who your assigned specialist is, please visit Grants Management Contacts on our Grants & Training webpage. 

Although we are facing truly exceptional circumstances, in the United States and globally, I am confident that we will weather this crisis together and grow stronger as an international cancer community. And let me also express my heartfelt gratitude for your continued dedication to your work and our nation’s health during these trying times.

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