Skip to main content

You are here

NIH Extramural Response to Natural Disasters and Other Emergencies

In emergency situations, the NIH’s immediate concern is for the health and safety of people and animals in the programs we oversee. We are also deeply concerned about the health of the biomedical enterprise in the affected area, and we are committed to working with researchers and institutions to do all that we can to ensure that NIH-funded research continues.

This website is intended to be a resource for the entire biomedical research community. Look here for NIH Guide Notices and other information of particular relevance to investigators and their institutions, links to web pages listing NIH’s response to certain major events (past and present); and links to similar web sites from other Federal agencies.

Potential NIH Responses to Natural Disasters

Assistance to the NIH community during natural disasters is handled on a case-by-case basis in a manner appropriate to the circumstances.

A primary concern of NIH applicants is how to handle when an institution is closed due to natural disaster or other emergency situation. In these cases it is not necessary to get permission in advance for delays in grant application submissions.  Instead, applications submitted late must include a cover letter indicating the reasons for the delay.  The delay should not exceed the time period that the applicant organization is closed.  Although NIH will often issue a Guide Notice reminding applicants of this policy during times of major emergencies, this policy will also apply to emergencies of a more limited or local nature not discussed in a separate NIH Guide Notice.

For major disasters impacting many institutions, NIH will coordinate with other Federal agencies (such as HHS, FEMA and OMB), as well as with state, local, and institutional representatives, to develop any additional response.  NIH will consider such issues as whether a Federal Disaster is declared; the severity of damage inflicted; the length of time an institution may be required to close or that is required for recovery; the impact on investigators, human research subjects, and animal subjects; and the overall impact on the community. A list of possible actions NIH may take are listed below.  Please note that these steps are not automatic but will be announced as appropriate on this web page and in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts.
  • 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.
  • Assisting with animal welfare issues.
  • Waiving certain prior approval requirements.
  • Providing extensions of time for financial and other reporting.
  • Publishing opportunities for funded extensions and/or one-time administrative supplements to current awards targeted at institutions in particularly impacted areas.

NIH Emergency Contact Information

  • For advice and guidance from the Office of Laboratory Animal Welfare regarding any animal evacuation, animal health, animal housing, IACUC activities, or occupational health and safety concerns please e-mail or call 301-496-7163.
  • For assistance from NIH regarding any grant administration issues please e-mail or call the Division of Grants Policy at 301-435-0949.

NIH Responses to Recent Events

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs):


Animal Welfare Issues

  • OLAW Disaster Planning and Response Resources
  • Responsibilities of Assured Institutions: Assured institutions are responsible for notifying OLAW about conditions that jeopardize the health or well-being of animals, including natural disasters, accidents, and mechanical failures, resulting in actual harm or death to animals. Institutions are also expected to report proposed changes in the institutional animal care and use program e.g. extended delay in semiannual program review, relocation of animals to facilities not covered in the Assurance. Institutions should report when feasible, and after they have had opportunity to fully determine the extent of losses, if any. If no damage or impact to your program was sustained, reporting is not necessary.

Related Federal Web Sites

This page last updated on September 2, 2021
Technical Issues: E-mail OER Webmaster