June 10, 2021

NIH makes first infrastructure awards to support research on post COVID conditions

This past February I announced the launch of a new research initiative to understand why some individuals who have had symptomatic COVID-19 don’t fully recover (often referred to as Long COVID) or develop new or returning symptoms after recovery. These conditions have been referred to by the research community as post-acute sequelae of SARS-CoV-2 infection or PASC. In fact, the initiative was initially called the PASC Initiative, but we’ve since renamed it to articulate the goals of the initiative more clearly. It is now called the RECOVER Initiative: REsearching COVID to Enhance Recovery. We are seeing these conditions affect all age ranges, even children, and the symptoms are often debilitating. Symptoms can include fatigue, shortness of breath, “brain fog,” sleep disorders, fevers, gastrointestinal symptoms, anxiety, and depressions, and can persist for months. Calls for research applications were issued in February, and after a concerted effort by many across NIH, I’m pleased to announce that we’ve made our first awards to support infrastructure and core resource development. Additional awards will be announced soon. Building the research support infrastructure is the first step before we can launch research studies including new randomized, placebo-controlled clinical trials, which we expect to make in the weeks and months ahead.

The New York University Grossman School of Medicine was awarded just over $14 million in support of the Clinical Science Core (CSC), which will take the lead in building the RECOVER research consortium, harmonizing and coordinating data within the consortium, and developing methods for monitoring protocols, including recruitment, data quality, and safety measures to identify adverse events. The CSC also will guide communication and engagement efforts with key stakeholders, including patients and healthcare providers.

The Biostatistics Center at Massachusetts General Hospital was awarded more than $8.6 million in support of the Data Resource Core (DRC), which will help enable tracking and searchability of results across all sources of data, from clinical studies to electronic health records. In addition, the DRC will provide expertise in statistical analyses and play a key role in ensuring data standardization, access, and sharing among RECOVER projects.

Input from people who have been directly affected by long-term effects of COVID-19 is critical for informing the research direction of the initiative and improve the lives of those suffering from the long-term effects of the SARS-CoV-2 virus. That’s why we hosted the first in a series of listening sessions with the community on June 2. A recording of this meeting is available on https://videocast.nih.gov/watch=42174. In addition, those interested in following the initiative can keep up with progress and sign up for updates on the new RECOVER website at recovercovid.org.

Over the next several weeks and months, NIH will make additional awards to ramp up research efforts and launch clinical trials to improve our understanding of this debilitating condition and identify potential treatments to help the hundreds of thousands of people who are affected.

Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D.
Director, National Institutes of Health