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Newsletter | Summer 2020 | South Central MIRECC

SC MIRECC Extends Window for Submission of Special Request for Pilot Study Applications Addressing COVID-19 to September 1, 2020

VISN 16 researchers and researchers in San Antonio, TX, are invited to submit pilot study applications that support our mission in the context of the COVID-19 pandemic:

SC MIRECC Mission Statement: To promote equity in engagement, access, and quality of mental health care for Veterans facing barriers to care, especially rural Veterans.

The goal of this special request for applications (RFA) is to stimulate rapid response research that considers the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on rural and/or other underserved Veterans and is consistent with our mission. This special request is meant to support the development and dissemination of evidence-based practices that can make a real difference in the lives of rural/underserved Veterans in this current crisis and future crises. We encourage pilot study applications that will lead to federally funded research designed to improve the delivery of services by the VA, as well as to help community partners better serve the behavioral health needs of rural/underserved Veterans.

This special call is intended to support projects that can be launched relatively quickly after the award is made. That includes pilots that would require only an IRB preparatory-to-research determination or would be considered exempt and/or eligible for expedited IRB review. In addition, relevant, ongoing projects that do not require in-person contact might be able to add an aim to explore the effects of COVID-19. Research requiring full IRB review will also be considered. Investigators are responsible for ensuring compliance with all local oversight processes and requirements. A non-exhaustive list of potential topics of interest includes:

  • Impact on rural/underserved Veterans of changes associated with COVID-19, e.g., shift to telehealth visits, screening procedures at VA facilities, shelter-in-place orders, social distancing, fear in the community.
  • Impact on VA providers caring for rural/underserved Veterans of changes associated with COVID-19.
  • Impact on community resources caring for rural/underserved Veterans of changes associated with COVID-19.
  • Local decision-making processes and lessons learned related to rural/underserved Veterans during the COVID-19 crisis.

We have modified our usual pilot study submission and review procedures somewhat for these proposals. Most notably, we will accept applications on a rolling basis until at least September 1, 2020. We will review submissions monthly and will endeavor to inform principal investigators of funding decisions within 4 weeks of submission. Most other elements will remain the same. For example, Covid-19-related pilots will be funded for a 12-month period with a maximum budget of $55,000.

Only researchers in VISN 16 and San Antonio, Texas are eligible to apply. Medical students, interns and residents are not eligible to apply unless they request and receive a waiver before applying. These and other elements and requirements are described in the application that can be downloaded from the Research webpage. Please contact Jeffrey Pyne, MD ( or Ellen Fischer, PhD ( with any questions.

Last updated: July 20, 2020