• For Engagement Awardees: Click here to access the Engagement Enhancement Funding Opportunity.
  • For D&I Awardees: Click here to access the D&I Enhancement Funding Opportunity.


Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2, otherwise known as COVID-19, is a novel respiratory illness that causes complications that can compromise lung function and lead to severe illness or death. COVID-19 imposes significant burdens for patients and their families and has led to acute disruptions in the US healthcare system due to its high incidence, low testing rates, challenging management options, and unknown long-term health implications. As of April 10, 2020, there were more than 427,000 confirmed cases and 14,696 deaths in the United Statesi and as many as 1.6 million cases worldwideii. Emerging reports of racial and ethnic disparities in the US death tolliii increase the complexity in developing a patient-centered response to address the pandemic.

Rooted in our mission to help people make informed healthcare decisions and improve healthcare delivery and outcomes, PCORI is poised to support work to provide answers to the challenging COVID-19 related dilemmas facing patients, caregivers, providers, health systems, and policymakers through targeted investments in extending our Research, Engagement Awards, and Dissemination and Implementation activities.

PCORI seeks investigator-initiated proposals to address the COVID-19 public health crisis through enhancements of currently funded PCORI research awards. Only PCORI-funded principal investigators with active research project funding contracts are eligible to submit a proposal in response to this announcement.

Please Note: We understand that many current research awards will require adjustments to enable the projects to proceed and to produce meaningful findings. While this announcement is not intended to solicit requests for modifications intended primarily to enable achievement of original, planned aims, we are committed to facilitating these types of modifications and suggest that awardees consult PCORI’s COVID-19 FAQs for guidance and for contact information to address these types of modifications and any related questions.


PCORI has a strong interest in generating timely findings to provide answers to dilemmas facing patients, clinicians, health systems, and other stakeholders and entities battling the novel coronavirus pandemic in the United States. Through this funding announcement, we are interested in supporting enhancements to existing research awards that can be initiated quickly to influence the outcome of the current pandemic and that have some relationship to the original award, using existing teams that are currently funded by PCORI.

Enhancements may include: modest additions to existing aims (such as additional outcomes to be collected as they relate to COVID-19), or an adjunct project that has some relationship to the original award, including a new aim (or aims) designed to produce useful knowledge related to COVID-19 and the original award. Simultaneous adaptation of original aims to account for COVID-19 may also be proposed. Taking advantage of natural experiments in health system, state, and provider responses is strongly encouraged.


Enhancement proposals should adhere to the following:

  • Addresses a current important issue facing the COVID-19 crisis (e.g., prevention, diagnosis, treatment, supply of critical resources, and health system adaptations including telemedicine, community outreach especially to vulnerable populations). Projects should propose to collect actionable outcomes specifically related to COVID-19.
  • Has a relationship to the original research
  • The research question related to COVID-19 should be framed utilizing a comparative effectiveness framework, or be expected to inform or lead directly to patient-centered comparative effectiveness research
  • For current Methods awardees: Methodological research that enhances the rigor of collecting and analyzing data for studying pandemics and producing immediately applicable tools (e.g., predictive models) will also be considered.
  • Primary outcome assessments collected within 2 to 12 months of study initiation
  • Appropriate patient and stakeholder engagement to help refine the question(s), the study conduct, and dissemination of actionable results.

Enhancements to PCORI-funded PCORnet® research infrastructure projects will be handled separately.


Enhancements for all projects should seek to leverage existing project personnel expertise and infrastructure when possible. Additional personnel may be allowable if existing study personnel are unavailable or lack the requisite expertise for the Enhancement proposed. Though not required, evidence that existing project stakeholders support the proposed Enhancement is desirable.

While expedient generation of results is desirable for research projects, proposed Enhancements to these awards must adhere to the PCORI Methodology Standards. Note that Enhancement components that result in findings that are scheduled to finish significantly before the original full research project may be required to undergo separate and early Peer Review of the Enhancement component of the full research project.

Investigators may only be awarded one COVID-enhancement per award, and are allowed a maximum of one opportunity to re-submit.

Review and Approval Process

Enhancement proposals will be considered on a rolling basis. Following receipt of awardee-initiated proposals, PCORI will complete review of proposals. You may be contacted by your assigned Program Officer for additional information as part of PCORI’s review.

For research awards, determinations will be made using the criteria below:

  • Past performance on current PCORI-funded project
  • Added value to the field of COVID-19 research (i.e., is not redundant with existing studies or completed research)
  • Relationship to original project
  • Feasibility of rapid incorporation into the ongoing study
  • Methodological rigor
  • Budget is reasonable in the context of the other expenses for this project and general reasonable cost designations.

Proposal, Budget Summary, and Budget Justification Deadline

Proposals were considered on a rolling basis until the deadline of Friday, July 17, 2020 at 5:00 p.m. ET.

Key Dates

Application Deadline
July 17, 2020, 12:00 AM
Earliest Start Date
May 1, 2020, 12:00 AM

Funds and Project Period

Total Costs

$500,000 limit (direct and indirect costs)—higher amounts will be considered on a case-by-case basis, based on applicants’ justification of the proposed amount.

Maximum Project Period

Enhancement may not increase project timeline by more than 12 months

To Apply for this Opportunity:

  1. Read the full funding opportunity above.
  2. Contact your assigned Program Officer (PO) to briefly discuss whether your proposed enhancement fits within the scope of this announcement.
  3. If authorized by the assigned PCORI PO, the recipient/awardee institution Administrative Official (AO) must submit completed copies of the application (see Applicant Resources below) to [email protected], copying your PO and assigned Contract Administrator.
  4. Proposals will be reviewed on a rolling basis per the criteria and process noted above under “Review and Approval Process.”

Applicant Resources:

i Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. (2020). Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19), United States, 2020. Atlanta, GA: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/cases-updates/cases-in-us.html#2019coronavirus-summary

ii Johns Hopkins University. (2020) Coronavirus COVID-19 Global Cases by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University, 2020 https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/map.html

iii Stafford K., Hoyer M. and Morrison A. Outcry over racial data grows as virus slams black Americans. https://apnews.com/71d952faad4a2a5d14441534f7230c7c. The Associated Press, 2020


Award Types