COVID-19 Update: Funding Opportunities, Exemptions for On-Campus Research and More
04/14/2020, 02:55:01 PM
From the Vice President for Research at the University of Houston. View this message in browser.
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Dear Research Faculty,

Below are some items I would like to share with you, including the next VPR Virtual Office Hours session and a form we added to apply for an exemption for campus access to conduct essential research. Please continue to visit our COVID-19 website for updates and funding opportunities.

Friday VPR Virtual Office Hours

Last Friday, we had our second 30-minute VPR Virtual Office Hours session, which was again well attended. Quite a few of you asked questions during the session, which all of us in DOR welcome very much. We will continue our weekly VPR Office Hours. The next session is this Friday, April 17 at 3 p.m. (please note the time). I hope you will be able to join us.

You can access the event through the Research & Innovation Teams site where you will also find channels for topic-specific questions you might have for our directors. I would like to encourage you to post questions prior to the event in our VPR Office Hours channel.

Questions and responses are visible to everyone at UH. If you have project- or team-specific questions that you do not want to share with others at UH, please contact our units directly. Area-specific email inboxes for DOR offices are listed on our COVID-19 Additional Resources page.

Funding Opportunities

Last week, McAllister & Quinn gave a webinar on the CARES Act. The presentation and the webinar are available on the UH Research & Innovation Teams site. We updated our COVID-19 Funding Opportunities page with the opportunities that were mentioned in the webinar. In brief, NIH funding opportunities primarily build on existing awards. The NSF published a Dear Colleague Letter to solicit proposals, including research on the impact of COVID-19 on undergraduate education. The DOE is currently looking for ideas but has not announced funding opportunities yet, while the DOD already has a number of opportunities available. One of the important insights M&Q shared with us was that if you wish to apply for one of these funding opportunities, contact the program manager first to find out whether your idea fits with what they are looking for.

Exemption for Essential Research Activities

As you know, laboratory access is limited to essential personnel who maintain essential research activities that are listed on the Stay Home. Work Safe. page. We outlined a process on that page to request an exemption. To streamline this process, we added a form where PIs/supervisors can request an exemption for essential research activities. The form can also be found on the Stay Home. Work Safe. page.

Human Subject Research

The HHS Office for Human Research Protections issued Guidance on COVID-19 last week for human subjects research during COVID-19. The guidance is consistent with how our institution is handling human subjects research during this pandemic. For example, the guidance anticipates that investigators are cancelling or postponing non-essential study visits or conducting phone visits instead of in-person visits to reduce COVID-19 transmission risks. UH researchers must submit such modifications to the protocol in ICON for IRB review and approval prior to implementation. Our Office of Research Integrity and Oversight, which handles human subject and animal research protocols, is fully operational and is fast-tracking COVID-19 related IRB and animal protocols and associated modifications. For further details, visit the Human Subjects page.

Confidentiality Requirements

As the virus continues to spread, we are more likely to know people or have heard about people who show COVID-19 symptoms or have been diagnosed as infected. I would like to point you to the UH COVID-19 FAQ section about how UH handles information about individuals who have been diagnosed with or show symptoms of COVID-19. The way UH handles such cases is consistent with HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act of 1996) and ADA (Americans with Disabilities Act). While anybody can freely speak about their own health status, the health status of others is confidential, and I would like to ask all of you to respect the required level of confidentiality.


Best regards,

Amr Elnashai, FREng  
Vice President for Research and Technology Transfer

Amr Elnashai | VP for Research and Technology Transfer |

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