September 11, 2020
Division of Program Coordination, Planning and Strategic Initiatives, Office of Research Infrastructure Programs (ORIP)
This notice is to inform biomedical and behavioral scientists who are currently conducting or planning to conduct COVID-19 research studies involving non-human primate (NHP) species housed at the National Primate Research Centers (P51) or P40 facilities supported by ORIP that access to and availability of NHPs will be limited and that specific programmatic priority settings will be implemented to minimize impact of the shortage.
On March 13, 2020, the President declared the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic a national emergency for all states, tribes, territories, and the District of Columbia [pursuant to section 501 (b) of the Robert T. Stafford Disaster Relief and Emergency Assistance Act, 42 U.S.C. 5121-5207 (the “Stafford Act”)]. Under this emergency, public health officials may take protective measures to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Nonhuman primates (NHPs) serve as critical animal models for several research areas during this pandemic. The demand for NIH-supported NHPs and access to biocontainment facilities is expected to escalate as researchers around the country seek to investigate COVID-19 pathology, treatments, and preventions using these models. With limited resources, there is a need to implement strategies to ensure the safe and effective use of biomedical research resources to urgently deliver outputs that will improve public health. NIH is addressing this increased demand by coordinating and streamlining research processes to maximize available NHP resources while prioritizing the most promising studies urgently required to save human lives or shorten the COVID-19 pandemic.
This notice is to inform the biomedical research community that all requestors seeking to utilize National Primate Research Center (NPRC) or ORIP-supported resources for COVID-19 studies must submit the information requested in the COVID-19 NHP Study Information Portal so that the urgency of the proposed research and its timeline for potential impact on public health can be assessed by the NIH COVID-19 Expert Panel (the “Expert Panel”). NIH is only collecting information on studies that have secured a source of funding, whether that be from a government, private, or other source. The Expert Panel is composed of federal NIH staff with expertise in virology, immunology, therapeutic and vaccine development, NHP models, and other highly relevant subject matter areas. The Expert Panel will provide a programmatic recommendation to the NIH Office of Research Infrastructure Programs (NIH/ORIP), which provides funding and programmatic oversight of the NPRCs and NHP facilities, on the urgency for a study to be conducted and the timeline for public health impact of each study. NIH/ORIP will then convey those recommendations to the Research Advisory Committee at each NPRC or the NHP Facility Director. All information submitted via the portal will be treated as confidential and proprietary to the submitter and will not be shared outside of NIH.
Please direct all inquiries to: COVID19.NHPstudies@nih.gov