SPH Research

Current status of research during COVID-19

Allowable research

Most in-person human subjects research was halted on March 19, 2020. Restrictions are gradually being lifted in concert with the Washington State Phased Plan for Re-opening. On May 22, 2020, the allowable types of in-person research were expanded and now include:

  • No in-person interactions are required
  • COVID-19 research (see more details at bottom of page)
  • All phase 2 and 3 clinical trials (the requirements for a significant and meaningful direct benefit to the individual participant, or for procedures that occur in the context of a needed clinical visit have been lifted)
  • Phase I clinical trials evaluating therapeutic interventions for conditions leading to devastating impairment
  • Brief procedures to obtain biospecimens, measurements or exams in clinic settings (this is also allowed in non-clinic settings IF participants are already enrolled in ongoing longitudinal studies.

These are summarized in detail on the Human Subjects Division webpage: Resuming Some Human Subjects Research (link below).

As of May 7, the following additional areas of non-Human Subjects research became allowable in the Governor’s Phase I for reopening the state.

  • Research that is required to meet an upcoming deadline
  • All facilities that support research, if the support cannot be carried out remotely

Only persons officially designated as ‘critical personnel’ may access UW campus facilities.

Complete the required checklist for Human Subjects Research During the COVID-19 Pandemic (link below) to confirm that your research is allowable before re-starting. Contact the Human Subjects Division if you are unsure whether your research is allowable. All research groups must develop a “Return to In-Person Research Plan” prior to re-starting. This plan must include provisions for

  • following physical distancing guidelines in all work areas
  • frequent disinfection of surfaces
  • completion of daily symptom-free attestations

All returning research staff must receive training on the Return to In-Person Research Plan, and a COVID-19 supervisor must be appointed for the area.

Helpful tools are posted on the Office of Research “Guidance for Returning to In-Person Research” web-page and on the Human Subjects Division webpages listed below.

Links to more detailed information:

     Human Subjects Division: COVID-19 and Human Subjects Research

     Human Subjects Division: Resuming Some Human Subjects Research webpage

     Human Subjects Division: Human Subjects Division: Checklist for Human Subjects Research During the COVID-19 Pandemic

     Office of Research: Mitigating Impacts to Research Activities Due to COVID-19

     Office of Research: Guidance for Returning to In-Person Research 


Allowable charges to existing grants


Some federal funding agencies allow the continuation of salary charges to grants while research has been halted due to COVID-19. The UW policy was released on 04-16-2020 and recommends a tiered approach.

  • First identify grant-related activities that can be performed remotely
  • Second, if that is not possible, work with departments to identify other funded work for research staff (other projects in need of staff)
  • Third, in exceptional cases, continued charging of salaries may be allowed by sponsors. NIH has allowed for this. If you have funding from other sponsors and are unsure of their policy, contact OSP.

Links to more detailed information:

UW policy:  Post-Award fiscal compliance

NIH Notice: NIH Notice:  Flexibilities Available to Applicants and Recipients of Federal Financial Assistance Affected by COVID-19 (NOT-OD-20-086)


NIH issued guidance that allows non-refundable travel cancelled due to COVID-19 to be charged to grants if the costs would have been otherwise allowable. In most cases, the UW travel policies also apply.

Links to more detailed information:

NIH Notice:  Flexibilities Available to Applicants and Recipients of Federal Financial Assistance Affected by COVID-19 (NOT-OD-20-086)

UW Travel policies UW travel policies

Donations of materials

Several federal sponsors have given permission to donate personal protective equipment (PPE) and other supplies acquired with NIH grant funds to support COVID-19 care and control activities. This should be carefully documented and there is no guarantee that there will be supplemental funding available to replace these materials.

Links to more detailed information:

NIH:  FAQ related to COVID-19

NSF:  Guidance on Repurposing Existing Awards to Support Emergency Response to COVID-19


New COVID-19 related research

NIH has numerous funding opportunities for COVID-19 related research. The NIH COVID-19 webpage (link below) contains all of the related notices as well as a summary of the funding opportunities.

Designate all COVID-19-related proposals with C19 at the beginning of the short title label on your eGC-1. Use this same C19 prefix in your subject line when communicating impacts of COVID-19 to your sponsored program.

The UW Human Subjects Division is prioritizing the review of applications to conduct new COVID-19 related research.

All COVID-19 related clinical research at UW Medicine facilities that requires access to patients, bio-specimens, or patient medical records must request approval through the ITHS portal. Applications are reviewed and prioritized by a standing review committee that meets weekly.

COVID-19 related research that does not require patient or specimen access can be submitted directly to the Human Subjects Division.

The UW COVID-19 Researcher Coordination Group is a group of faculty that meets bi-monthly to share and coordinate research ideas. Contact Nicole Errett (nerrett@uw.edu) if you are a UW faculty member who would like to be added to the group.

Links to more detailed information:

Human Subjects Division:  COVID-19 and Human Subjects Research

ITHS COVID-19 Research Portal:  COVID-19 Research Portal

NIH COVID-19 webpage

OSP:  Indicating COVID-19 proposals to OSP


updated 05-11-2020