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NIH Launches COVID-19 Funds to Accelerate Testing, Accessibility

Key focus is underserved populations, community-engagement research

As part of NIH’s multi-faceted response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the agency has launched an unprecedented four-pronged initiative, entitled Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics, or RADx, to catalyze the scientific community to improve testing technologies, capacity, and accessibility for the country. 

As 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 testing in underserved and vulnerable populations. The overarching goal of this $500M effort is to understand factors that have led to disproportionate burden of the pandemic on these populations, so that interventions can be implemented to decrease the disparities.  

More info here: Rapid Acceleration of Diagnostics (RADx) (

As part of the RADx-UP initiative, NIH has released four funding opportunities ( to solicit community-engaged research on COVID-19 testing among underserved and/or vulnerable populations to both understand and close the disparity gap.  These funding opportunities include:

  • Emergency competitive revision applications to existing awards for large consortia, multi-site trials, centers and other current networks that have adequate capacity, infrastructure, and established community-engaged relationships to support large-scale testing interventions or have the capacity to ramp up quickly to reach underserved or vulnerable populations.
  • Second, complementary emergency competitive revision opportunity which shifts eligibility to collaborative and individual research awards, generally focused on smaller underserved or vulnerable populations.
  • Emergency competitive revisions to solicit research to understand the social, ethical, and behavioral implications (SEBI) of COVID-19 testing in these populations.
  • A new Coordination and Data Collection Center (CDCC) award (U24), a key component of the consortium. The CDCC will serve as a national resource, working with NIH scientific staff and consortium members to provide overarching support and guidance in the following four domains: (1) Administrative Operations and Logistics, (2) COVID-19 Testing Technology, (3) Community and Health System Engagement and (4) Data Collection, Integration and Sharing.