Most of the global biomedical research community, especially those at the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is consumed with the COVID-19 coronavirus pandemic. Because the U.S. federal government is under strict orders to limit its operations to only essential personnel, many of the 27 NIH institutes and centers are redirecting their efforts toward COVID-19 topics. However, the National Cancer Institute (NCI) is continuing its cancer research in certain priority areas.   

“As we understand so well, biomedical research improves public health through scientific discovery. The COVID-19 pandemic only reinforces the importance of our work and the work of so many others who are dedicated to protecting and improving public health,” NCI Director Norman E. Sharpless, MD, said in a March 23, 2020, press release. “I want to assure you that NCI, in partnership with NIH, is taking affirmative steps to support the extramural cancer research enterprise during this challenging time.”   

NCI compiled a comprehensive list of resources for grant applicants and funding recipients, including information on animal welfare, funding, human subjects and clinical trials, peer review, proposals, and awards. The institute will continue peer review, accept late applications for new awards, and offer project extensions. Sharpless said that NCI will maintain its rigorous protocols regarding standard operations, and it’s created a task force for processing operations that support extramural research.   

“At NCI, we are committed to sustaining progress against cancer, now and always,” he said.