Impacts of COVID-19 on Research Activities

Last Updated March 25, 2020

GW is closely monitoring and responding to the impacts of the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19). This is a rapidly evolving situation that may affect researchers and their projects. The Office of the Vice President for Research (OVPR) will continue to evaluate university and sponsor guidance and will provide updates to GW researchers as appropriate.

OVPR encourages all investigators and research staff to:

Research Activities

In an effort to promote social distancing, the university has required that all employees whose jobs can be performed remotely must telework. OVPR strongly encourages investigators to find ways to limit on-campus research to critical activities, performed by as few designated on-site personnel as possible. Critical activities include any that are absolutely necessary to preserve vital research assets and maintain laboratory viability.

Office of Sponsored Projects Staff

The Office of Sponsored Projects (OSP) is fully operational. As per university guidelines on social distancing and teleworking, all OSP staff are working remotely. Please contact OSP personnel with any questions.

COVID-19-related Guidance from Sponsors

The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) issued two important memos to federal agencies:

  • Memo M-20-11 directed federal agencies to implement flexibilities for COVID-related activities.

  • Memo M-20-17 directed  agencies to provide additional flexibility to recipients affected by the loss of operational capacity and increased costs due to the COVID-19 crisis.

Specific guidance from federal funding agencies is provided in the tabs below.

Highlights

  • NSF will be extending the deadline dates for solicitations or Dear Colleague Letters (DCLs). Additional solicitations or DCLs may be added to the list, so proposers are strongly encouraged to check NSF’s website regularly.

  • All NSF awards are eligible for one-year grantee-approved no-cost extensions and then further extensions as approved by NSF. If you foresee a need for NSF-approved extensions, you should include that information in your annual report and discuss the need ahead of time with the cognizant NSF program officer for your award.

  • Principal Investigators are strongly encouraged to consult university COVID-19 guidance regarding both local and foreign travel.

  • Given that businesses and universities are closed in certain parts of the world as a result of COVID-19, it may be more challenging to engage with foreign counterparts. PIs are encouraged to consider, as they develop research plans, that individuals may be directly affected by COVID-19.

 Given the fact that COVID-19 and associated impacts continue to evolve, investigators are strongly encouraged to monitor NSF’s website for updates.

Sponsor Links

Highlights

  • Principal Investigators (PIs) should contact their Grants Management Specialist (GMS) if technical reports are going to be delayed. NIH will accept late reports but awards will be delayed until the required reports are submitted and accepted by NIH.  

  • PIs should check State Department travel advisories for conferences that may be forthcoming. Non-refundable costs associated with grant-related travel that has been cancelled due to COVID-19 may be charged to the NIH award if they would have otherwise been allowable.

  • If PIs have unanticipated costs due to COVID-19 they may request an Administrative Supplement.

  • Awards not covered under Streamlined Non-Competing Award Process (SNAP) have the discretion to carry forward unobligated balances on their active grants for immediate efforts to support activities related to or impacted by COVID-19 as long as the charges are allowable costs and are within the scope of the original award.

  • NIH is allowing pre-award costs to be incurred from January 20, 2020 through the public health emergency period and prior to the date of a federal award for all applicants and recipients that have been affected by COVID-19.

  • PIs are strongly encouraged to consult university COVID-19 guidance regarding both local and foreign travel. 

Given the fact that COVID-19 and associated impacts continue to evolve, investigators are strongly encouraged to monitor NIH’s website for updates.

Sponsor Links

Department of Defense

Department of Energy

National Aeronautics and Space Administration

USDA - National Institute of Food and Agriculture

United States Army Medical Research Acquisition Activity

Food and Drug Administration

Department of Health and Human Services

Detailed Guidance from COGR

The Council on Governmental Relations (COGR), an association of research universities, has compiled an FAQ regarding COVID-19’s impact on federal awards.

Impacts on Travel

The university’s recent adjustments to international travel practices may impact travel related to sponsored projects. Please review your sponsor’s guidance linked on this page for the latest updates. Investigators may direct urgent inquiries to their assigned sponsored projects administrator.

If you have upcoming travel plans, please monitor GW’s COVID-19 website for important updates.

Plan Ahead

There are no current plans that would limit access to campus research facilities. However, we encourage research teams to develop procedures in the event that access must be limited or staff cannot report to work. These plans should consider:

  • designation of a communications lead that will be responsible for sharing timely updates with team members and collaborators;
  • approaches in the event that some or all personnel cannot report to work;
  • prioritizing effort that requires access to a physical location versus what can be accomplished remotely;
  • identifying tools for conducting meetings and collaborating remotely;
  • ensuring remote access to critical data and files; and
  • preserving samples.

Continuity of Research and Laboratory Activities

The Office of Laboratory Safety (OLS) has circulated a memo to principal investigators who may need to plan for the possibility of significant disruption to lab functions. To support lab teams in this process, OLS has also developed a checklist to help investigators ramp-down research activities in a safe and efficient manner. The checklist is intended to complement the continuity plans that principal investigators have already developed.

Human Subjects Research

The Office of Human Research (OHR) strongly urges investigators to take steps to decrease the likelihood that they will put themselves, members of their study teams, or their study participants at risk of becoming infected with or transmitting the 2019 Novel Coronavirus. Principal investigators (PIs) and their study teams should carefully consider their research protocols in light of the rapidly evolving environment, while being mindful of university and sponsor guidelines.

In response to GW's social distancing policy, all Office of Human Research (OHR) staff will work remotely. OHR staff are available for consultations by phone. Email [email protected] to schedule a meeting by phone.

Clinical Studies

GW Medical Faculty Associates (MFA) has released guidance for researchers with clinical studies.

Review of Research Involving COVID-19

Members of the GW research community will likely mobilize to study COVID-19. All of the standard protocol reviews apply to these studies and no new projects may commence without these approvals. However, GW’s review boards have implemented plans to speed the reviews of research protocols involving COVID-19.

  • The Institutional Biosafety Committee has released interim guidance for research involving COVID-19. The IBC will review applications within five business days. The IBC will convene by teleconference or videoconference as necessary to accommodate these submissions.
  • The Institutional Review Board is prioritizing review of these protocols by assembling a standing panel of reviewers that will convene as necessary. For new studies involving COVID-19, please include the term COVID in the study title, and communicate with OHR via [email protected] regarding urgent study needs.

GW Nanofabrication and Imaging Center

To align with recommendations regarding COVID-19, all GW Nanofabrication and Imaging Center (GWNIC) operations will cease until further notice. Access to the facility will be limited to staff and emergency personnel only. GWNIC staff will work remotely and will be available during regular business hours. We will continue to monitor the situation and the university’s COVID-19 guidelines closely. Feel free to contact the GWNIC staff directly or email [email protected].

Proposal/Report Deadlines

Whenever possible, adhere to all previously published proposal deadlines. Some sponsors are extending deadlines for solicitations or other reports. Further guidance may be available within the sponsor-specific links provided on this page.

Trainings and Events

OVPR Trainings

All trainings hosted by the Research Enhancement Unit and the Office of Sponsored Projects that were scheduled to occur before April 5, 2020 will be postponed. Unless you have received other guidance, please email [email protected] to confirm the status of any OVPR-sponsored event before traveling to the location.

GW Research Showcase

GW Research Showcase 2020, originally scheduled to be held on Tuesday, April 7, 2020, will be canceled. We want to thank the more than 430 GW students and trainees who submitted their abstracts as well as the mentors that make these projects possible. The submissions exemplified the cutting-edge research, scholarship and creativity that is being conducted at GW. While the university-wide event will not take place this year, we encourage mentors to find ways to celebrate the important contributions of their student researchers.

Spring Regulatory Update & Hot Topics in Clinical Research

This year’s meeting will be held online only on Tuesday, April 21, 2020 from 9:00 am to 2:45 pm. The focus for this meeting will be on “COVID-19: the Virus, Preparedness in the time of Crisis, and Clinical Research." Individuals that are interested in attending this program are encouraged to RSVP as soon as possible. Organizers will share the meeting link with the registered attendees when it is available. Read more about the meeting. Register to attend the meeting.

Innovation and Entrepreneurship

New Venture Competition

The GW New Venture Competition (NVC) will move forward with all presentations and judging occurring via video conference. NVC staff has made arrangements for a virtual version of the NVC Finals Award Show on Thursday, April 16, 2020 starting at 6:30 pm. The Finals will be streamed live on GW’s Facebook page. RSVP to get a reminder email and a link to watch the livestream.

Virtual Office Hours

GW Mentors-in-Residence and OIE staff will hold virtual Office Hours through the end of the semester. Schedule a consultation with a Mentor or contact OIE staff by email.

Intramural Funding

Recipients of intramural funding (e.g. the University Facilitating Fund, the Cross-Disciplinary Research Fund and the Humanities Facilitating Fund) that need to extend their projects beyond the current academic year may request a no-cost extension by visiting OVPR’s InfoReady portal and selecting “NO COST EXTENSION - OVPR Intramural Funding Only” from the list of opportunities.

Additional Questions?

If you have additional questions, please contact your school-based research administrator who can coordinate with OVPR as necessary. General questions or concerns can be addressed to [email protected].