It is going to take a little while for life to get back to normal at the National Institutes of Health after the government shutdown, which lasted just over two weeks and ended nine days ago, particularly in its extramural affairs application and review activities.
Sally Rockey outlines some of the steps NIH is taking now to make up for lost time in her Rock Talk blog. NIH's deputy director for extramural research writes that the shutdown "came at one of our busiest periods [the beginning of the new fiscal year], and it is going to take some time to bring the extramural program back to full strength.
Rockey says the institutes are bumping back all of their October grant application dates to November to give applicants time to get in touch with NIH staff, help desks, and electronic systems.
The process for reviewing applications suffered some serious setbacks due to the shutdown, and NIH has been trying to find ways to squeeze in application reviews to make up for the more than 200 review meetings that were cancelled earlier this month. Last week, NIH said these reviews would be postponed to February and March.
But Rockey says she has heard from the research community that these delays are going to impact ongoing science projects.
"Applicants faced with a four month delay in a funding decision described serious consequences to their research programs," she writes.
In response, Rockey's office now says that most review meetings originally scheduled for October will be rescheduled for a January council meeting.
"It is unfortunate that the government shutdown has forced all of us to scramble in this way," Rockey says.