The Latest Shutdown Information for NIH and NSFFunded Researchers (UPDATE)


Do you have new shutdown-related information that’s relevant to NSF- or NIH-funded investigators or those seeking funding from the major agencies? .

On Friday, 27 September, we described the likely impact on scientists funded by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the National Science Foundation (NSF) if the government entered a period of partial shutdown. That indeed came to pass the following Monday, at midnight. Here’s what we’ve learned since then:

  1. More on accessing information from NSF’s Web site–this via Twitter from Brian O’Meara, who, as we mentioned on Wednesday, had archived some critical files on his Web site. O’Meara tweets,
  1. Fromvia Insider comes the news that ClinicalTrials.gov has been granted an exemption that will allow the database to be updated by a skeleton staff. Earlier this week a man with advanced cancer was denied an experimental treatment at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute because the trial had not been entered into the database. Representative William Keating (D-MA) made an appeal to NIH Director Francis Collins, and the Department of Health and Human Services allowed certain furloughed staff to return to work and maintain the Web site. The patient learned that the treatment would be allowed to proceed, according to . A note on the site says that “[i]nformation will be updated to the extent possible, with priority given to processing registrations of new trials and critical updates to existing entries, such as trial status and contact information for enrollment. The agency will attempt to respond to urgent operational inquiries.”
  1. NSF’s Web site went dark sometime yesterday, except for a page containing its closure notice and a short document providing “guidance” for NSF’s “proposer and awardee communities.” For some researchers—and, especially, research administrators—the disappearance of NSF’s Web site is a source of considerable frustration. Research administrators need that information to do their jobs, and researchers need it to write new grant proposals. People have come to rely on Web sites to retrieve important information.So, for example, pre-award staff does not have access to the information on NSF’s Web site and therefore cannot advise the faculties they serve about NSF funding opportunities. Scientists writing proposals cannot find the information and the documents they may need. And those who want to get a head start on uploading proposals for the next due date (10 October) cannot do so because they can’t access division codes and program codes, which Grants.gov requires.Fortunately, there are workarounds. Start at the Web site of Brian O’Meara, an assistant professor at the University of Tennessee, Knoxville, in the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology. O’Meara has located and stashed away some NSF forms likely to be in frequent demand: NSF’s Grant Proposal Guide; the program solicitation for Directorate for Biological Sciences Doctoral Dissertation Improvement Grants (Due date: 10 October); and the program solicitation for the crosscutting Graduate Research Fellowship Program, which has due dates in early November.Can’t find what you need on O’Meara’s Web site? Try Google. Google probably has a cached copy of the page—but to find it you’ll need to know exactly what you’re looking for. First, do a Google search for the page of interest using the most specific search terms you can think of and then locate the page in the search results. Now, instead of clicking directly on the title as you normally would, you must click on the little downward-pointing arrow beside the URL on the line below. Click on “cached” in the drop-down menu.The page that loads will be badly formatted, and graphical elements will likely be missing. To get to the good stuff, scroll down past lots of header and left-navigation elements. With a little luck and skill, you may be able to find the information you need.
  1. Previously we advised that scientists preparing to submit research grant proposals to NIH in order to meet early October deadlines could, if they chose to, go ahead and upload them to Grants.gov. But this morning, NIH issued a notice cautioning prospective applicants against submitting proposals during the shutdown. The notice doesn’t directly explain why, saying only that:
  1. For reviewers: All review panels scheduled during the shutdown will be canceled, and Fastlane will not be available for submission of ad hoc reviews

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