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Extramural Construction Programs

 

The Division of Construction and Instruments (DCI) within the Office of Research Infrastructure Programs (ORIP) supports improvements in the infrastructure of research laboratories, animal model facilities, space for translational and clinical research, and other facilities needed by NIH-funded biomedical and biobehavioral researchers. The need for updates or expansions of space is tied to the requirements of research activities for modern facilities meeting specific design standards or the requirements for care and welfare of laboratory animals. 

The program is essential in enabling the conduct of research, from meeting the needs for laboratory space to providing environments for specialized workflows. In the fiscal years 2012 – 2016, ORIP awarded 75 projects to 56 institutions in 28 states for a total investment of $33,139,739. The projects ranged from alteration and renovation of space to purchases and installation of equipment. Many requests improved sanitation of animal research facilities by providing new cage washers and autoclaves. Such projects were not just the simple replacement of failing equipment, as novel designs offer savings in water and energy usage. In many cases, the installation of such equipment was complemented by renovation of adjacent space so that the projects resulted in broader improvements in access, efficiency, and specialized service. Similarly, most installed HVAC systems are dedicated to serve animal facilities by supplying air exchanges according to up-to-date design specifications for such facilities. Modern HVAC units limit vibrations and provide appropriate environmental controls. These features are especially important for proper functioning of ventilated cages. ORIP funded purchases of racks with ventilated cages at several institutions, often to complement facility renovation projects. Such remodeling projects are justified by the needs for the expansion of space to meet growing research demands or to provide an environment for specific activities; for example, biobehavioral investigations, animal surgery, or housing genetically engineered animals. Of special note is ORIP’s funding of gnotobiotic facilities. Most of the projects benefit all scientific areas of animal research, conducted at a given institution; several projects assist specific fields, such as genetics, virology, and neuroscience. The funded projects support many animal types, including zebrafish, mice, rats, pigs, and non-human primates.

In FY2017, ORIP is focusing on improvements to physical infrastructure directly related to specific needs of currently funded research projects. For FY2018, ORIP published a Funding Opportunity Announcement to solicit requests for purchasing scientific instruments necessary to carry out animal experiments in all areas of biomedical research supported by the NIH.

Special Federal policies define rules for awarding and managing of construction grants. ORIP has the authority to manage such grants and can award them when Congress appropriates funds for construction and modernization activities. Past examples of such programs include the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA) and the Hurricane Sandy Disaster Relief. For more information about the ARRA-funded awards, follow this link. Currently, ORIP is collaborating with the Office of AIDS Research on a project for a Current Good Manufacturing Practice (CGMP)-level facility to produce candidates for HIV/AIDS vaccines, for Phase I clinical trials.

 

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