COVID-19: Adjusting to the "new normal"
The COVID-19 pandemic has rapidly changed how we live, work and learn. First and foremost, I want to assure everyone that the safety of older adults, a population known to be at high risk, is paramount to NIH and NIA leadership.
The "new normal" of this public health emergency coupled with the guidance around physical distancing also makes this a trying time for clinicians, researchers and others who support our crucial science, including trial participants. While no one knows how long our current state will last, for now, I want to let the NIA community know that much-needed help and flexibility is already in motion as you are feeling the impact in your labs and clinical trials.
Grantees with specific questions should reach out directly to their NIA program officers. We are committed to responding as rapidly as possible as we transition to working and meeting online and supporting new research on the effects of this pandemic on older adults.
Resources from NIH OER
The NIH Office of Extramural Research (OER) has an excellent website on Coronavirus Information for NIH Applicants and Recipients, which links to NIH Guide Notices and FAQs, as well as CDC and WHO information. Dr. Mike Lauer, NIH deputy director for extramural research, recently wrote a blog and provided a video update for grantees and applicants on what’s being put into place to help.
Additionally, NIH OER also hosts a helpful FAQs page on COVID-19 flexibilities for applicants and recipients that covers changes regarding late applications, reporting, budgeting, salaries/stipends, travel cancellation fees and more. NIH has also issued guidance for institutions to ensure the safety of human participants and research staff in NIH-funded clinical trials and human subjects studies. Note that NIA peer review will continue during this time but shift from in-person to online meetings.
Time for resilience and perseverance
Above all, this is a time for resilience and perseverance as many studies and trials have put enrollment and follow-up on hold as universities and labs have switched to remote work. But researchers can still do things that don’t involve direct participant contact such as phone visits, data management, and analysis and dissemination activities, or tackle abstracts, presentations and manuscripts. Regardless, please keep in touch with your NIA program officer, your IRB and your institution as plans and policies evolve.
We are all in this together
In the face of realities of the current global crisis, we will need to continue to collaborate and work creatively. Together, we will improvise, adapt and overcome. NIA is here to help while you take actions to keep yourselves, your families, your colleagues and your participants safe and healthy.
We will blog more in the coming weeks about the COVID-19 impact on the NIA community, including about opportunities to contribute to research in this area. Please comment below with any questions or concerns. I wish you safety and wellness.