amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

Target Grants

Request for Proposals

Overview

Purpose

The goal of this RFP is to generate vital data relevant to a cure for HIV.

Available funding

Grants provide funding of up to $200,000 (including indirect costs at a maximum rate of 20%) over a one-year performance period beginning on July 1, 2021.

Expected outcome  

Biomedical research findings that provide the foundation for new approaches to an HIV cure.

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

Details

Background and Purpose

Persistent reservoirs of virus not cleared by antiretroviral therapy (ART) represent the main barrier to a cure. A cure for HIV encompasses approaches that either eliminate HIV provirus or the reservoir cells hosting it, or provide ART-free control of persistent HIV. Applicants are invited to submit proposals that advance progress towards a cure by either means.

Applicants may propose laboratory, animal or clinical research, but research plans should articulate where and how the research fits within a specific and defined clinical development plan.

amfAR’s research initiatives are aimed at finding a cure for HIV that will be useful to the 38M people living with HIV. The urgency of our goal demands that we direct our funding to studies that uncover vital knowledge directly applicable to curing HIV.
 
Areas of particular interest:

Although open to any kind of HIV cure research, amfAR intends to prioritize research that supports the development of tools that either eliminate the provirus and leave the cell intact, or eliminate reservoir cells specifically.

One of the greatest challenges in specifically eliminating provirus or reservoir cells is the lack of surface biomarker that discriminates persistently infected cells. Applicants are encouraged to think creatively about ways to use the provirus itself as a biomarker:

  • direct excision of proviral DNA represents one way to use the provirus as a marker of reservoir cells. Efforts along these lines are well advanced but require improvement in targeting and safety.
  • technologies that rely on the presence of specific DNA or RNA, such as dCas, DNA-binding transcriptional regulators, RNAi, triplex DNA, global transcription machinery engineering (gTME), engineered synthetic transcription factors, etc.
  • use of viral transcripts as on- or off-switches for therapeutics designed to inactivate or destroy the provirus or reservoir cell
  • other HIV DNA- or RNA-dependent technologies not listed here

Although much attention is focused on differentiating intact from defective provirus, and replication-competent from -incompetent virus, interventions that target provirus regardless of its intactness or competence may be – conceptually at least – easier to achieve. Given the rarity of infection with virus of any level of intactness, estimated at 1–10 per million CD4+ T cells, an intervention that specifically kills all infected cells would not be anticipated to materially affect immune function.

Depending on the nature, goals, safety and cost of a curative therapeutic agent, the necessary specificity and efficiency of delivery to reservoir cells may vary. Proposals for enhancing successful delivery of therapeutics directly to reservoir cells are particularly encouraged.   

Proposal Requirements

amfAR will not consider iterations of previously tested ideas that resulted in only modest advances or studies that would result in incremental knowledge.

Collaborations must be meaningful and capitalize on the verifiable expertise of all parties.
This RFP does not fund prevention studies or non-biomedical research-based activities. 

If you are unsure whether your proposal fits amfAR’s grant topics, please e-mail your inquiry to grants@amfar.org.

Expected outcomes

Biomedical research findings that provide the foundation for new approaches to an HIV cure or material improvements to existing ones.

Eligibility

HIV researchers holding a doctoral degree and affiliated with a nonprofit research organization are eligible to apply. If the proposal is a collaboration including subcomponent projects, the Principal Investigator will be expected to lead one of the components and coordinate the implementation and analyses of the projects as a whole, and be responsible for overall financial management and submission of required reports.

Applications are accepted from nonprofit research institutions worldwide.  Applications are not accepted from individuals or for-profit entities.  Proposals may include subcontracts or sub-awards to for-profit organizations.

Submission Process and Application 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 that meet amfAR funding priorities 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.

Requesting LOI Application Forms and Credentials

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

  • Registration deadline passed.  
  • CLICK HERE to request log-in credentials. Username, password and a link to the submission portal will be sent to the email address provided.
  • Use the log-in information to complete and submit the LOI online through the portal. LOIs must be submitted via the portal no later than 3:00 p.m. EST on Wednesday, March 3.

Please be sure to request credentials and forms with adequate time to prepare a Letter of Intent. Deadline extensions will not be provided.

Other Important Dates 

Letters of Intent due: March 3, 2021

Invite full applications: First week of April 2021 (tentative)

Full applications due: First week of May 2021 (tentative)

Performance period begins: July 1, 2021