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NIH to Provide $500M for Coronavirus Testing Research in Underserved, Vulnerable Populations

NEW YORK — As part of a program designed to accelerate the development and commercialization of testing technologies for SARS-CoV-2, the National Institutes of Health has announced four funding opportunities to support community-engaged research on virus testing among underserved and/or vulnerable populations.

The program — called Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics, or RADx — was launched earlier this year with $1.5 billion in stimulus funding. The latest funding opportunities are being issued under the RADx-Underserved Populations (RADx-UP) component of the initiative.

"The overarching goal of the RADx-UP initiative is to understand the factors associated with disparities in COVID-19 morbidity and mortality," the NIH said in a statement. The $500 million being provided to RADx-Up also aims to help reduce such disparities for those underserved and vulnerable populations that are disproportionately affected by the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

Under the new RADx-UP funding opportunities, the NIH is offering emergency competitive revision applications — either to members of large consortia, multisite trials, centers, and other networks with the resources to undertake large-scale testing, or to individual research awardees with community collaborations or partnerships — to support SARS-CoV-2 testing among underserved and/or vulnerable populations. The agency is also offering emergency competitive revision applications to fund research into the social, ethical, and behavioral implications of SARS-CoV-2 testing in underserved and/or vulnerable populations.

Projects funded under these opportunities will act as a single consortium of interlinked community-engaged research projects across the US focused on understanding COVID-19 health disparities and on deploying implementation strategies to improve the reach, acceptance, uptake, and sustainability of SARS-CoV-2 testing.

To support this consortium, the NIH has issued another funding opportunity to establish a RADx-UP Coordination and Data Collection Center that will coordinate and facilitate member activities and interactions, as well as provide de-identified individual data to an NIH-based data center.

Additional details about the funding opportunities can be found here, here, here, and here.