What Happens When Natural Disasters Strike and I Can't Submit My Application?

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During emergencies and natural disasters, NIH’s primary concern is for the health and safety of the entire NIH research community, including the people and animals that are a part of our research programs. Additionally, we are committed to supporting our research community’s hard work by providing assistance to affected NIH applicants and grantees on a case-by-case basis.

NIH considers the following issues when determining how to take action in emergency situations:

  • whether a Federal Disaster is declared
  • severity of damage inflicted
  • length of time an institution may be required to close or required for recovery
  • impact on investigators, human research subjects, and animal subjects
  • overall impact on the community

NIH will automatically allow a delay in grant application submissions equal to the time of institution closure or evacuation order. As with any late application, include in your application cover letter the reason(s) for the delay. It is important to remember that the delay should not exceed the time period that the applicant organization is closed.

NIH may also take steps to provide additional assistance if appropriate. These will be announced on the NIH Extramural Response to Natural Disasters and Other Emergencies web page, as well as in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts. Examples of such steps include:

  • Assisting with animal welfare issues
  • Waiving certain prior approval requirements
  • Providing extensions of time for financial and other reporting
  • Permitting the limited expenditure of award funds, in accordance with grantee policy, to continue paying salaries and fringe benefits to researchers under unexpected or extraordinary circumstances
  • Publishing opportunities for funded extensions and/or one-time administrative supplements to current awards targeted at institutions in particularly impacted areas

When a disaster or emergency impacts many institutions, NIH will coordinate with other federal agencies (such as HHS, OMB, FEMA), as well as with state, local, and institutional representatives, to develop any additional response.

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