RADx-UP Offers Innovative Support Opportunities

NIH RADx UP is establishing a network of community-engaged projects
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Before any nation can safely return to business as usual, it will be essential to develop and deliver effective COVID-19 testing that is available to everyone. 

To address this need, the US National Institutes of Health (NIH) announced it is rising to this challenge through the Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) initiative, which is a national call for scientists and organizations to advance their innovative testing ideas and strategies.

The NIH stated on June 23, 2020, ‘to speed innovation in the development, commercialization, and implementation of technologies for COVID-19 testing, NIH will use a variety of mechanisms, including extramural grants, contracts, and cooperative agreements, to move more advanced diagnostic technologies swiftly through the development pipeline toward commercialization and widespread availability — with the goal of making millions of tests available to Americans each week, especially those most vulnerable to and disproportionately affected by COVID-19.’

One of the four RADx components, RADx Underserved Populations (RADx-UP) will establish a network of community-engaged projects to improve access to and acceptance of COVID-19 testing for underserved and vulnerable populations who are disproportionately affected by COVID-19.

This includes populations most affected by health disparities, particularly African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, and American Indians/Alaska Natives; those in nursing homes, jails, rural areas, or underserved urban areas; pregnant women; and the homeless.

The overarching goal of RADx-UP is to understand the factors associated with disparities in COVID-19 morbidity and mortality and, ultimately, to mitigate them through enhanced access to or acceptance of testing. 

RADx-UP will utilize implementation science projects to learn how to increase uptake of viral testing and engagement with care in these populations, who are disproportionately affected by, have the highest infection rates of, or are most at risk for complications or poor outcomes from the COVID-19 pandemic.

Specific activities of RADx-UP may include establishing multiple clinical research sites across the country to conduct real-time evaluations of a variety of testing methods in specific populations, areas, and settings, as well as encouraging collaboration between the program sites and the community — such as tribal health centers, places of worship, homeless shelters, and prison systems — to identify and address their unique needs.

This initiative will also develop testing strategies to apply the technological advances emerging from the various RADx efforts in real-world settings.

The RADx-UP program includes four associated funding opportunity announcements.

The first funding opportunity is a limited solicitation targeting networks and consortia with established research infrastructures and community partnerships with underserved and vulnerable communities. 

The goal of this funding opportunity is to better understand COVID-19 testing patterns and implement strategies or interventions with the potential to rapidly increase reach, access, acceptance, uptake, and sustainment of FDA-authorized and approved diagnostics among vulnerable populations in underserved geographic locations. 

The second funding opportunity has a similar focus but shifts the pool of grants eligible for supplements to individual research awards that include community-collaborations or partnerships to support COVID-19 testing, or that have the capacity to ramp up quickly, to reach underserved or vulnerable populations.

The third funding opportunity addresses the urgent need to understand the social, ethical, and behavioral implications of COVID-19 testing among underserved and/or vulnerable populations across the United States.

The final funding opportunity will fund a single organization to create a Coordination and Data Collection Center that will serve as a national resource, working with NIH scientific staff, and consortium members to coordinate and facilitate research activities across the programs supported by the funding opportunities identified above.

To achieve this goal, NIH said it is partnering with other government organizations including the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency, the Health Resources and Services Administration, and the U.S. Food and Drug Administration. 

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