From the Vice President for Research at the University of Houston. View this message in browser.
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Dear Research Faculty,

We are actively monitoring the local and global health situation around the novel coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease. We intend to keep research and research support services functioning as normally as possible, including labs, core facilities and service centers. Funding agencies have not issued any notice affecting proposal submission, awards issuance or other impactful changes to sponsored research activities as it relates to COVID-19. 

We understand you may be concerned about possible disruptive impacts on research progress and compliance with grant requirements and want to share current guidance and assure you of our support as the situation develops. 

Research-related travel:

  • The University is restricting all international travel that requires university funds or approval at least until the end of March.
  • Limit domestic business-related travel at least until the end of March.  Please evaluate your options carefully.
  • Canceling your travel:
    • If you have already made and paid for travel arrangements on grant funds, please work with your department’s business staff to request refunds to be credited back to the award. If a refund is not possible and the expenses will remain on the award, you must provide supplemental documentation outlining the refund denial to support the charges.
    • To date, there is no federal guidance related to charges of cancelled non-refundable travel expenses due to the coronavirus. We will continue to follow the University’s travel expense policy and the Uniform Guidance.  The University’s Travel Information page has been updated to address costs of canceled travel due to COVID-19 travel restrictions and concerns

Funding research staff and students on grants:

  • Working Remotely  In the event the University of Houston closes/cancels operations due to COVID-19, research staff and students supported on grant funds can be paid provided they remain engaged and continue to work on the project remotely.
  • If working remotely is not an option, due to the nature of work on the project, the award should not be charged salary. Faculty wishing to retain such staff should work with their Chair and Dean to bridge fund such positions. In the event there is a need to terminate employment you must follow university written policy, which usually requires a 30-day written notice to the employee. If the researcher is unable to continue to work on the project, and is key personnel with committed effort, NIH and NSF policy require notifying the program officer regarding disengagement and effort reductions.
  • Absence Due to Illness  If a researcher is absent from work due to illness their salary can continue to be paid from the award in accordance with MAPP 02.02.03 Leaves of Absence.

Delays:

  • Program managers must be informed, in writing, of any delay in the project scope of work caused by disruptive impacts on research progress and compliance with grant requirements. If the delay will result in a late progress report, this information must be conveyed before the report becomes due.
  • Most federal agencies, including NIH and NSF, do not grant approval for late submissions. Agencies do have policies that address extenuating circumstances. If you have a specific situation that can be considered an extenuating circumstance, please contact the agency Program Official and your UH preaward contact for guidance.

Research awards with human subjects protocols:

  • The IRB, through the Office of Research Integrity and Oversight, has provided additional guidance for human subjects research. The information can be found on the Division of Research website under COVID-19 Information and Resources

Agency responses to COVID-19 and additional resources:

Best regards,

Amr Elnashai, FREng  
Vice President for Research and Technology Transfer

Amr Elnashai | VP for Research and Technology Transfer | elnashai@uh.edu

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