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Research Planning, Protocols & Funding

Funding Announcements
Institutional Review Boards (IRB)
Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) Clearance Requirements


Funding Announcements

Selected federal funding announcements for disaster-related medical and public health research are listed here until funds are no longer available. Please send suggested funding announcements for this list to

  • FEMA Fiscal Year (FY) 2017 Notices of Funding Opportunity
    Press release, June 2, 2017
    Information Bulletin of details on the FY 2017 preparedness grant programs  
  • Mechanism for Time-Sensitive Research Opportunities in Environmental Health Sciences (R21 Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant Award)
    This funding opportunity announcement (FOA) is intended to support environmental health research in which an unpredictable event provides a limited window of opportunity to collect human biological samples or environmental exposure data. The primary motivation of the FOA is to understand the consequences of natural and man-made disasters or emerging environmental public health threats in the U.S. and abroad. A distinguishing feature of an appropriate study is the need for rapid review and funding (substantially shorter than the typical NIH grant review/award cycle) in order for the research question to be addressed and swiftly implemented.

    The shortened timeframe will be achieved by more frequent application due dates and expediting peer review, council concurrence and award issuance. The entire cycle, from submission to award, is expected to be within 3-4 months.
  • Research to Action: Assessing and Addressing Community Exposures to Environmental Contaminants (R01 Research Project Grant)
    This funding opportunity announcement encourages applications using community-engaged research methods to investigate the potential health risks of environmental exposures of concern to the community and to implement an environmental public health action plan based on research findings. The overall goal is to support changes to prevent or reduce exposure to harmful environmental exposures and improve the health of a community.

  • Zika Virus Health Information Resource Guide. Section on Research, Development and Funding
    The National Library of Medicine is maintaining a list of funding opportunities on their Zika Guide.



Some institutions are experimenting with writing data collection protocols and obtaining Institutional Revew Board approval in anticipation of disasters. Examples are included here from the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, University of Iowa and University of Texas Medical Branch. 




While disaster research protocols are usually developed post-disaster, there is increasing interest in the development of pre-positioned disaster research protocols in order to minimize the time to begin collecting human health data. The Rapid Acquisition of Pre- and Post-Incident Disaster Data  (RAPIDD) study was designed by the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS) for just this purpose. NIEHS provides the approved study protocol as a helpful blueprint for investigators.

The primary objective of the RAPIDD study is to create a research registry of disaster response workers who are rostered before or immediately after deployment to a disaster area. Disaster response workers are at great risk for adverse outcomes due to direct exposure to hazardous environmental contaminants during the emergency response. The RAPIDD protocol is designed for a range of disaster situations. The RAPIDD protocol has a flexible and scalable approach to fit varying conditions on the ground. Since some elements of a disaster cannot be specified in advance, RAPIDD has built in a customizable set of materials that can be readily reviewed and approved at the time of a disaster. An example of a disaster scenario, under which RAPIDD may be implemented, can be found here.

The NIEHS Institutional Review Board (IRB) reviewed and approved the RAPIDD protocol on May 7, 2015 for a one-year period with the following conditions: 1) it may only be used for a single disaster activity; 2) it must undergo an IRB review of an amendment to cover its use in a disaster; and 3) study investigators must report back to the IRB regarding any study activities that impact the safety of research subjects within 60 days of study implementation. These conditions assure that the RAPIDD study complies with all regulations for the protection of human subjects.The RAPIDD Study is included in Disaster Lit.

Goals of the RAPIDD Study:

  • Provide standardized methodology with instruments previously used in disasters
  • Provide pre-positioned study documents, questionnaires, surveys, supply lists and staff requirements
  • Gather socio-demographic, health, exposure, and lifestyle information immediately before or after deployment to a disaster area
  • Collect biological samples immediately before or after deployment to a disaster area
  • Establish a well-characterized disaster response worker cohort that will allow future analysis

RAPIDD Study documents:


University of Iowa Protocols


University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB) Protocols


Institutional Review Boards (IRB) and Protection of Human Subjects

NIEHS Institutional Review Board
The NIEHS IRB, Human Research Protection Program and the Office of Human Research Compliance have considerable experience with minimal risk disaster-related research. NIEHS sponsored the Best Practices Working Group for the Development of Special Considerations for Institutional Review Board (IRB) Review of Disaster and Emergency Related Public Health Research on July 27-29, 2016 in Research Triangle Park, NC. See the News for details on this event.

Public Health Emergency Research Review Board (PHERRB)
The PHERRB is a specialized Institutional Review Board (IRB) established under the auspices of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) network of IRBs. The PHERRB is designed to provide centralized, rigorous and expeditious human subject protections review of research studies addressing public health emergencies (PHEs). This review includes other agencies and sponsors with an IRB Authorization Agreement (reliance agreement) between the NIH and the institution conducting the research. PHERRB-reviewed protocols are conducted, supported, or regulated by HHS and subject to 45 CFR 46 and/or 21 CFR 50 and 56. Request more info at:

Final NIH Policy on the Use of a Single Institutional Review Board for Multi-Site Research
Use of a single IRB may expedite approval for multi-site research following a disaster.


Paperwork Reduction Act (PRA) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB) requirements

Information coming soon.