U.S. Federal Agency Responses and Research Opportunities: April 22 – 28, 2020

To provide relevant information to ASPB members, we will be sharing weekly updates on US Federal Agency responses to COVID-19 and research opportunities. The information below was prepared by Lewis-Burke Associates and curated by Shandrea Stallworth, Early Career Representative on ASPB’s Science Policy Committee. Additional information about ASPB’s response to COVID-19 can be found here.


US Department of Agriculture (USDA)

On April 21, NIFA reopened its Small Business Innovation Research Program (SBIR) opportunity until May 21 to solicit innovative proposals relevant to COVID-19. USDA made up to $25 million in funding available to support grants of up to $100,000. USDA encourages proposals relevant to the following topics: Animal Production and Protection; Food Science and Nutrition; Rural Development; and Small and Mid-Size Farms. Submissions relevant to COVID-19 should include “COVID-19 Rapid Response” in the title. Answers to other questions can be found in the NIFA FAQ document. More information can be found here


National Institutes of Health (NIH)

On April 23 the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) released a strategic plan outlining the Institute’s priorities for COVID-19 related research in fiscal years (FY) 2020-2024. The plan describes NIAID’s research mission as it relates to COVID-19 and the causative agent of the disease, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2): “Conduct and support research on SARS‐CoV‐2 and COVID‐19 to accelerate the development of safe and effective medical countermeasures that decrease disease incidence, mitigate morbidity and prevent mortality.” NIAID’s strategic plan articulates four strategic research priority pillars:  

  • Improve knowledge and understanding of SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19  
  • Develop diagnostics and assays to identify and isolate COVID-19 cases  
  • Characterize and test potential therapeutics and treatments for COVID-19  
  • Develop effective vaccines to combat SARS-CoV-2  

Complete details on the NIAID Strategic Plan for COVID-19 can be found here

National Science Foundation

On April 24, the Directorate for Computer and Information Science and Engineering (CISE) issued a Dear Colleague Letter (DCL) restating the opportunity to apply for funding supplements to active CISE awards for Research Experiences for Undergraduates (REU). This DCL aims to address the disruption to undergraduates caused by COVID-19 and states, “In light of COVID-19, and to enable the CISE research community to provide additional opportunities to engage undergraduates who are US citizens and permanent residents in research pathways, CISE reiterates this interest via this DCL.” 

Department of Energy

DOE launched a National Virtual Biotechnology Laboratory (NVBL) to open up DOE national laboratory user facilities and specialized instrumentation to academic researchers and industry to address COVID-19. The NVBL lists all relevant DOE capabilities, such as light and neutron sources, nanoscale science centers, sequencing and bio-characterization facilities, and high performance computer facilities to help respond to COVID-19. Examples include developing innovations in testing capabilities, identifying new targets for medical therapeutics, providing epidemiological and logistical support, and addressing supply chain bottlenecks. 

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