Request for Proposals: Targeted Biomedical Research
Exploring the mechanisms for HIV persistence and the potential for HIV eradication
amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, is
pleased to announce the availability of targeted support for biomedical
research projects relevant to exploring the mechanisms for HIV
persistence and the potential for HIV eradication.
Funding will be available for:
Grants— $180,000 maximum total
costs including indirect costs of up to 20 percent of direct costs. The
performance period for grants awarded under this RFP will be for one year
starting February 1, 2013.
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Background and Areas of Interest
amfAR's research program is driven by the
Foundation's mission to end the global AIDS epidemic through innovative research.
amfAR plays a uniquely important role in AIDS research, identifying critical
gaps in our knowledge of HIV and AIDS, and supporting groundbreaking studies
that often lack the preliminary data required by more traditional funders. The
Foundation's research program focuses on efforts to prevent HIV infection among
vulnerable populations and to improve treatment, with the ultimate goal of
eradicating the virus in people living with HIV infection.
This RFP solicits proposals relevant to
exploring the mechanisms for HIV persistence and the potential for HIV
eradication. Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has significantly
impacted the health of individuals infected with HIV-1. However, if therapy is
interrupted, there is a rapid resumption of viral replication. Understanding
the mechanisms by which the virus is able to persist in the face of therapy is
necessary in order to identify strategies that may interrupt viral persistence
and ultimately lead to viral eradication. amfAR wishes to support basic, pre-clinical,
clinical, and especially translational research exploring the mechanisms
whereby HIV infection persists; the chronic nature of viral reservoirs and
latency; and barriers to the eradication of HIV, with the potential goal of
ultimately eliminating HIV infection.
Specific areas of interest include:
- Determine cellular and viral mechanisms that maintain HIV
- Determine the tissue and cellular sources of persistent HIV in
long-term ART-treated individuals
- Determine the origins of immune activation and inflammation in the
presence of ART and their consequences for HIV persistence
- Determine host and immune mechanisms that control infection but
allow viral persistence
- Study, compare, and validate assays to measure persistent
- Develop and test therapeutic agents or immunological strategies to
safely eliminate latent infection in individuals on ART
- Develop and test strategies to enhance the capacity of the host
response to control active viral replication
Applicants are encouraged
to submit proposals using appropriate in vitro or ex-vivo techniques. Attempts
to validate existing in vitro or ex vivo models, and to develop new models,
including animal systems, are also encouraged.
studies involving nonhuman primates are encouraged to apply.
Applicants who wish to use
amfAR funding to conduct a discrete clinical research project, for example as a
definable, distinct part of an ongoing clinical trial, should clearly describe
how amfAR funding can support the entire discrete project for which funding is
sought. Proposals for which amfAR funding will represent a small fraction of
pooled resources (i.e., to "top up" total funding of a clinical
research project) will not be considered.
Applicants are especially
encouraged to design research studies in which the findings from basic science
can be quickly and efficiently applied to medical practice. Such
applications are likely to include multi-disciplinary collaboration and a
description of the ways in which basic science findings generated with this
funding can or will be tested (using this funding) in an appropriate non-human
primate model or in patients.
note that this RFP differs from recent ones in the following ways:
- The total cost maximum is
- There is no direct cost
maximum, however, indirect costs may not be greater than 20% of direct
costs (i.e., allowed indirect costs are not 20% of total costs)
- Research grant funding is
for a one year period beginning February 1, 2013
- Only proposals for individual
research projects are solicited
- It is not required that
principal investigators hold a faculty-level position
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for research grants must hold a doctoral level degree and be affiliated with
the applicant institution. If a proposal includes subcomponent projects, the
principal investigator will be expected to lead one of the component projects, coordinate
the development, implementation, and analysis of the project as a whole, and be
responsible for the preparation and submission of required progress reports.
Please note that all applications
will be considered together (i.e., proposals from non-faculty-level researchers
will be in competition with proposals from faculty-level investigators).
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Research Grant Funding
Research grants are given to nonprofit
institutions worldwide to support investigator-led projects approved by the
Foundation. In general, funds are applied to direct costs of salaries and
fringe benefits for professional and technical personnel, laboratory supplies
and equipment, travel, and the publication of findings. This initiative will
provide support for one year without assurance of continued funding.
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Submission Requirements and Deadlines
Interested applicants will be required to
submit a letter of intent (LOI) on
amfAR-provided forms as described below.
forms and instructions may be obtained by sending an e-mail to firstname.lastname@example.org.
include all of the following in the body of the e-mail:
name, degree(s), and job title(s)
of the applicant institution
kindly request each potential applicant to send her or his own separate request
for LOI forms and instructions.
Sheet: completed and signed by the
applicant; includes investigator and institution information, and project abstract (200 words) and keywords.
Description: 200 words or less
addressing the significance of the proposal to one of the areas of interest
identified in the RFP.
Sketch of the principal
Plan (submitted as a separate
document): no more than 1,500 words (single spaced, one-inch margins, Times New
Roman 12 point font) including background and rationale, preliminary studies,
specific aims, experimental design, procedures, and data analysis to be used.
Detailed directions for the preparation and
submission of an LOI are provided in the instructions.
Electronic (e-mailed) LOIs that
are received late, are incomplete, or exceed word count or page limits (please
see instructions for details) will not be accepted for review. Faxed or
hard-copy-only submissions are not accepted. Deadline extensions are not
Submission of an LOI is not a guarantee of
eligibility to submit a full application. The pre-application process is highly
competitive. Only a limited number of investigators submitting an LOI will be
invited to submit a full application.
E-mail submission: September 27, 2012, 5:00 PM EDT
A complete LOI must be submitted
by e-mail to email@example.com
Hard Copy Submission:
October 11, 2012
Signed hard copies
of the face sheet must be received at amfAR no later than 5:00 PM.
October 30, 2012 (tentative)
Electronic application submissions due
November 29, 2012 (tentative)
Funding decisions announced
February 9, 2013 (tentative)
requests for proposals:
Click here to sign up for e-mailed GrantOpportunity announcements.
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Policies and Conditions
Whom Grants Are Made
Grants are awarded to nonprofit
institutions; they are not awarded to individual investigators. Accordingly, an
application, if solicited, must bear the signature of an official authorized to
sign for the institution and, if requested, the applicant institution must
submit proof of its nonprofit status. Applications are neither requested nor
accepted from for-profit entities. Institution
signature is not required for Letters of Intent.
By accepting an amfAR grant, the recipient
institution will accept full responsibility for the conduct of the
investigation and for the acts of the investigator(s). Both are under the
direction of the institution and are subject to its medical and scientific
policies. Similarly, project personnel compensated in full or in part with
funds awarded by the Foundation are employees of the recipient institution;
they are not amfAR employees.
Applicant investigators need not be U.S.
citizens, and there are no restrictions as to age, color, creed, gender,
medical condition, handicap, national origin, parental status, political
affiliation, race, religion, marital status, or sexual orientation.
Members of the Foundation’s board of
trustees are not eligible as investigators in Foundation-supported research.
Members of the Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) are eligible. Members of the
board of trustees and SAC must comply with the Foundation’s policies regarding
the avoidance of conflicts of interest.
Use of Funds
In general, a research
grant is applied to direct costs
of salaries for professional and technical personnel, laboratory supplies and
equipment, travel, and the publication of findings.
Funds are not awarded for the following:
- Major construction or the remodeling of facilities (minor
alterations are allowed with adequate justification);
- The direct cost of support services normally available at a
sponsoring institution (e.g., telephone, office furniture, and supplies)
except when directly allocable and essential to carrying out the proposed
- The purchase, lease, rental, or servicing of office equipment;
- Funding for dissertation research;
- Indirect costs in excess of 20 percent of direct costs
Costs—Foundation grants are not
meant to cover the total cost of a proposed research project. A grantee
institution is expected to provide the necessary physical facilities and
administrative services, as well as other supporting services normally
available at a sponsoring institution. Expenses generally considered to
be indirect costs may be budgeted as direct costs only when required for the
operation of remote sites deemed necessary and leased or rented exclusively for
conduct of the funded research. Such requests will be carefully assessed
for appropriateness and are subject to peer review and administrative approval.
For this RFP, indirect costs are allowed at
a maximum rate of 20% of direct costs.
When an application for project support is
submitted to amfAR and also to other grant making agencies, accepted support
from the Foundation and from another agency cannot be in duplication.
Recipient institutions agree not to promote
or engage in violence, terrorism, or the destruction of any state, and to take
prudent measures to insure that they do not provide support through sub-grants
or other financing to any entity that engages in those activities.
on the Use of Funds Awarded to Foreign Organizations
Unless written authority is
obtained in advance from amfAR, funds from grants awarded to organizations
outside of the United States (U.S.) may not be used to support (a) services
performed in the U.S., or (b) travel to or from the U.S. Authorization to use
funds for such purposes may be obtained by providing either of the following
sets of documentation: (1) a copy of U.S. Internal Revenue Service (IRS) form
W-8EXP bearing a valid International Taxpayer Identification Number or Employer
Identification Number and either (a) an IRS determination letter or (b) written
opinion of U.S. counsel that the organization is described in IRS Code section
501(c)(3); (2) alternatively, an applicant organization in a country that
benefits from an exemption under a tax treaty with the U.S. should provide (a)
a completed copy of IRS form W-8BEN and (b) an affidavit stating the treaty
provision under which benefits are claimed and asserting facts pertinent to the
treaty provision (e.g., facts to establish that the organization would qualify
under IRS code section 501(c)(3)).
Although these documents are not required
for LOIs, applicants should anticipate and prepare for their submission as part
of the application or award process.
Funds available to the Foundation
are obtained principally from private donations.
and Approval Process
amfAR intends to encourage and
support HIV/AIDS research of the highest quality. Therefore, every properly
prepared and submitted LOI or application received in response to an amfAR
solicitation is peer-reviewed by members of the Foundation’s Scientific
Advisory Committee (SAC). Each is subject to an overall conformance review by
the Foundation staff. Those found to be inconsistent with the guidelines and
instructions are eliminated at that time, and the investigator and the
applicant institution’s grants official are notified. Applications are
solicited from investigators whose letters of intent have been recommended by
the Foundation’s SAC. Unsolicited applications are not accepted for
The SAC, a volunteer body of scientists who
are experts in various fields of HIV/AIDS research, evaluates (1) the
scientific merit of LOIs and applications; (2) the relevance of the research to
the control of the epidemic or to the benefit of patients with AIDS or
HIV/AIDS-related conditions; (3) the qualifications, experience, and
productivity of the investigator/sponsor; (4) the facilities available; and (5)
the likelihood of success. The SAC’s determinations are considered by the amfAR
board of trustees, which holds the sole authority to approve project funding.
Submission of an LOI does not guarantee
invitation to submit a complete application. The LOI process is very
competitive and only a limited number of proposals are approved for additional
Written critiques are not available for
Throughout the review and award
process, the Foundation respects the privacy of the applicant and endeavors to
protect from disclosure any confidential or proprietary information contained
in a submitted proposal. However, amfAR has in place no mechanisms to maintain
or guarantee confidentiality and, as a not-for-profit corporation, lacks the
financial resources to (1) institute such mechanisms or (2) accept liability
for the disclosure of information. At the same time, the Foundation does not
consider information on an application’s project description form (lay-language
summary) to be confidential. That information may be made public as a
description of the project being funded by amfAR. Submission of an application
or LOI is deemed acceptance of these provisions.
and Animal Subjects / Biohazards
Applicants are required to submit
documentation of institutional approvals for research involving human or animal
subjects or the use or production of biohazards. Research activity may not
begin, nor may expenditures be made, until such approvals are received and
forwarded to amfAR. Although these approvals are not required at the LOI stage,
investigators should prepare to submit them with full applications.
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