amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

Innovation Grants: Exploring the potential for HIV eradication

Registration Deadline: CLOSED
LOI Submission Deadline: CLOSED

Request for proposals (RFP) Overview

Purpose of RFP

To fund biomedical research necessary to inform and design interventions to 1) cure HIV, defined by the eradication of all pathogenic virus from the body, or 2) bring about a state of remission whereby the virus is controlled in the absence of ART and the person is no longer infectious.  

Specific areas of interest

In order of priority:

1. Proof-of-concept clinical studies testing cure interventions

2. Disabling or eradicating the HIV reservoir

3. Discovery and targeting of novel mechanisms to disrupt HIV reservoir persistence

Available funding

Innovation Grants provide funding of up to $200,000 (including indirect costs at a maximum rate of 20%) over a two-year performance period beginning on July 1, 2017.

Expected outcome

Research findings that provide strong preliminary data that inform next-stage clinical or preclinical studies testing curative interventions.

Eligibility

HIV researchers holding a doctoral degree and affiliated with nonprofit research institutes are eligible to apply.

 

Background: Innovation Grants

amfAR’s $100 million Countdown to a Cure initiative is aimed at developing the scientific basis of a cure for HIV by the end of 2020. The urgency of our goal demands that we direct our funding to studies that uncover vital knowledge directly applicable to curing HIV in people living with HIV/AIDS. amfAR expects to solicit projects through this RFP that provide proofs of concept in clinical, preclinical or basic research that are crucial to informing and designing future curative interventions.

Persistent reservoirs of virus not cleared by antiretroviral therapy (ART) represent the main barrier to a cure for HIV. amfAR intends to fund research that explores all curative approaches, including reservoir removal, elimination of mechanisms that sustain the reservoir, editing the provirus sufficiently to render it benign, or suppressing the intact provirus, thus preventing pathogenicity. 

Verifying that a cure has been achieved is a key challenge in HIV research. A delay to viral rebound following treatment interruption is currently the most definitive way to determine whether a curative intervention has worked. Outcomes of research funded through this RFP are expected to inform ensuing clinical or preclinical studies that aim to predict whether a cure has been achieved, such as by determining delay to viral rebound following treatment interruption.

 

Areas of Interest

1. Clinical proof of concept

Treatments currently approved for use in humans could have value in eliminating or disabling the viral reservoir in HIV-infected individuals and may permanently prevent viral rebound in the absence of ART.  Clinical proof-of-concept studies are expected to enroll a circumscribed number of HIV-positive individuals to test the intervention, use historical controls, and measure endpoints that predict cure or remission. 

2. Approaches that lead to disabling or eradicating the HIV reservoir

Research proposing novel mechanisms or substantially improved approaches to eradicating or permanently disabling the reservoir cells or the provirus are needed. Screens for latency-reversing agents will be considered low priority.

3. Mechanisms that drive HIV reservoir persistence

Research aimed at discovering and targeting novel mechanisms that maintain the viral reservoir are needed. Research is expected to define, for example, novel and targetable signaling mechanisms that maintain the reservoir. Studies aimed at simply describing mechanisms of persistence are of extremely low priority.

 

Submission Process and Application Review

Submission pipeline & review

Selection of funded applications is a four-step process, as follows:

1. Letters of Intent (LOIs) are reviewed by amfAR staff to ensure that: a) eligibility requirements are met; b) the research proposed is in line with amfAR objectives; and c) it is responsive to the RFP. LOIs that meet these criteria proceed to peer review.

2. LOIs are reviewed by leading HIV experts and scored based on the following criteria:

       • expected impact on the HIV cure field

       • appropriateness of the proposed work with respect to allotted funds

       • competency and track record of members of the team

3. Applicants with the highest-scoring LOIs are invited to submit full applications. Full applications are reviewed by members of amfAR’s Scientific Advisory Committee and discussed during an in-person meeting to assess the merit of each application with respect to:

       • expected impact on HIV cure

       • innovation and novelty of the proposed work

       • competency and track record of members of the team

       • possible scientific or budgetary overlap

4. Successful applications are chosen based on reviewer comments, scores, and on amfAR priorities.

 

Preparation of materials

Letters of Intent (LOI) consist of:

• 5-page research plan with the following sections:

       • Background and preliminary data

       • Experimental design with specific aims, plan to overcome obstacles

• Abstract, Relevance paragraph, Hypothesis & Specific Aims

• Literature cited

• Biographical sketches for all key personnel

• Signature page

Applications consist of:

• 10-page research plan with the following sections:

       • Background and preliminary data

       • Experimental design with specific aims, plan to overcome obstacles

       • Long-term plans to move findings into people living with HIV/AIDS

• Timeline

• Budget

• Budget justification

• Biographical sketches for all key personnel

• Other funding support forms

• Current equipment and facilities resource forms

• Letters of support from collaborators

• Institutional Approvals if required: IRB, IACUC, etc.

• Signature page

 

LOI submission

Submission of Letters of Intent (LOI) is a two-step, online process.

1. You must register no later than 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time on February 16, 2017.

CLICK HERE to register.

Username, password and the link to the submission portal will be sent to the email address provided in the form.

2. LOIs must be submitted via the portal no later than 3:00 p.m. Eastern Time on February 22, 2017.

Please be sure to register with adequate time to prepare a letter of intent. Deadline extensions will not be provided.

 

Eligibility

Institutions:  Applications, if invited, are accepted from nonprofit research institutions worldwide; applications are not accepted from individuals or for-profit entities. However, although the Principal Investigator must be from the applicant institution, research teams may include members from, and budgets may include subcontracts or subawards to, for-profit entities.

 

Principal Investigators:

• Must hold a doctoral level degree

• Must be affiliated with the applicant institution

• If the proposal is a collaboration including subcomponent projects, the Principal Investigator will be expected to lead one of the component projects, coordinate the development, implementation and analysis of the projects as a whole, and be responsible for overall financial management and the preparation and submission of required reports.

Other Important Dates (all dates tentative)
Applications invited: April 3, 2017
Application submissions due: May 2, 2017
Funding decisions announced: Late June

Future requests for proposals:
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