Dear RBHS Colleagues:
During this time of unprecedented interruptions, we commend the RBHS faculty, learners, and staff for their resiliency, creativity, and flexibility while they maintain and continue one of our signature missions as an academic health center: research.
Although certain wet lab-based activities are by necessity reduced in scope and scale, we have the ability to pursue our mission through creative avenues that many of you are already undertaking. This is essential as we prepare for the eventual full operation of our research enterprise, and continue to grow the RBHS research discoveries for the future. We are actively working on measures that will permit the gradual return of the research workforce, particularly the wet-lab graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, staff, and faculty who have suffered the most interruption of their research efforts. In collaboration with the Rutgers Emergency Operations Committee, we hope to unveil a program in the near future.
While support from some funding agencies may be on hold, NIH remains fully funded. This is an ideal time to submit an extra NIH grant, for your next project(s). Further, funding opportunities for many new and diverse COVID-19 research projects are available from several NIH Institutes. Dry bench research, manuscript submission (original, reviews, commentaries), data analysis, grant writing and development of new collaborations offer fertile opportunities for ongoing and new explorations. For those less familiar with dry-bench research, we encourage you to consider resources including the Rutgers University Biostatistics and Epidemiology Services Center (RUBIES), and the variety of services offered through the New Jersey Alliance for Clinical and Translational Science including the Biostatistics, Epidemiology and Research Design Core, the Community Engagement Core, and data sets available through the Institute for Health, Health Care Policy, and Aging Research.
Related to COVID-19 research, we are delighted that the Rutgers University (RU) Center for COVID-19 Response and Pandemic Preparedness (CCRP2) has launched and is serving as an important hub for such efforts. We extend our appreciation to the Center Director (Dr. David Alland) and associate director (Dr. Henry Raymond), in addition to Drs. Amariliz Rivera and Jason Yang who are overseeing essential operations of CCRP2. As a testament to the amazing grassroots interest in COVID-19 related research, the recent pilot grant RFA garnered 97 applications; they will be reviewed shortly. These applications, coming from across RU, cover the entire spectrum of Basic and Translational Science, Clinical Trials, Diagnostics, Environmental and PPE Contamination, Public Health / Epidemiology, and Technology Development / Resource Building, Therapeutics, and Vaccine Development. We are actively working to raise funds to enhance COVID-19 and non-COVID-19 related research support.
As you continue planning and performing your important research across disciplines, please remember to keep abreast of funding opportunities that are distributed by RU. Also, if you aren’t already subscribed, you can consider linking with the NIH regular listserv for funding opportunities and with the helpful NIH-related updates provided in the NIH Open Mike blog. There are several additional federal and nonfederal funding opportunities that we plan to circulate on a regular basis.
While devastating, this pandemic may bring us together in ways that we had not previously considered, growing our research efforts in both breadth and depth and creating new and productive collaborations. We are reminded by the example Sir Isaac Newton set, with some of his most impactful discoveries made while working at home during the Great Plague of London. As Christine Caine is quoted, “When we feed our faith, we starve out doubts.” We salute and thank you for your patience and for making the best of this situation, and relay our heartfelt appreciation to our healthcare workers who are risking their lives for our safety.
Kathleen Scotto, Vice Chancellor for Research, RBHS
Bishr Omary, Senior Vice Chancellor, Academic Affairs and Research, RBHS
Brian Strom, Chancellor, RBHS