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The COVID-19 pandemic presented a challenge to established seed grant funding mechanisms aimed at fostering collaboration in child health research between investigators at the University of Minnesota (UMN) and Children’s Hospitals and Clinics of Minnesota (Children’s MN). We created a “rapid response,” small grant program to catalyze collaborations in child health COVID-19 research. In this paper, we describe the projects funded by this mechanism and metrics of their success.
Using seed funds from the UMN Clinical and Translational Science Institute, the UMN Medical School Department of Pediatrics, and the Children’s Minnesota Research Institute, a rapid response request for applications (RFAs) was issued based on the stipulations that the proposal had to: 1) consist of a clear, synergistic partnership between co-PIs from the academic and community settings; and 2) that the proposal addressed an area of knowledge deficit relevant to child health engendered by the COVID-19 pandemic.
Grant applications submitted in response to this RFA segregated into three categories: family fragility and disruption exacerbated by COVID-19; knowledge gaps about COVID-19 disease in children; and optimizing pediatric care in the setting of COVID-19 pandemic restrictions. A series of virtual workshops presented research results to the pediatric community. Several manuscripts and extramural funding awards underscored the success of the program.
A “rapid response” seed funding mechanism enabled nascent academic-community research partnerships during the COVID-19 pandemic. In the context of the rapidly evolving landscape of COVID-19, flexible seed grant programs can be useful in addressing unmet needs in pediatric health.
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