amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

amfAR Grant Policies

To 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 endorsement or 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 with funds awarded by the Foundation are employees of the recipient institution; they are not amfAR employees.

Investigators and other personnel 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 investigators for 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.

Additional eligibility requirements may be stipulated in an RFP or other solicitation for submission of a proposal or application.

All amfAR grants are awarded contingent upon the availability of funds and without guarantee of subsequent or continued funding.  

Allowed Use of Funds
In general, a grant is applied to direct costs of salaries for professional and technical personnel, laboratory supplies and equipment, travel, and the publication of findings.  For-profit organizations may receive sub-awards or subcontracts supported with grant funds contingent upon amfAR’s prior written approval.

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 and facilities generally available at a sponsoring institution (occupancy costs, utilities, maintenance, telephone, office furniture and supplies, etc.) except when directly allocable, and essential to carrying out the proposed research;
  • The purchase, lease, rental, or servicing of office equipment
  • Funding for dissertation research 

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.

Indirect 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. Indirect costs are allowed at a maximum rate of 20% of direct costs excluding subawards to support discrete component project(s) under the direction of co-investigators at other institutions. However, such subcontracts may include indirect costs at maximum rate of 20% of direct costs to be paid to the subawardee. The maximum indirect rates for Mathilde Krim fellowships grants are 10% for phase I and 15% for phase II.   

amfAR will not award or continue funding grants for which there is scientific, budget or commitment overlap.

Scientific Overlap—Scientific overlap occurs when substantially the same research is proposed in more than one application; or is submitted to two or more different funding sources for review and funding consideration; or a specific research objective and the experimental design for accomplishing that objective are the same or closely related in two or more currently funded or pending applications or awards for which there is any overlap in the period of performance, regardless of funding source.

Budget Overlap—Budgetary overlap occurs when duplicate or equivalent budgetary items (e.g., equipment, salary) are requested in an application but are already funded by another source.

Commitment Overlap—Commitment overlap occurs when any project-supported personnel has time commitments (i.e., percent effort) exceeding 100 percent, regardless of how the effort/salary is being supported or funded.

Source of Funds
Funds available to the Foundation are obtained principally from private donations.

Review 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 consideration.

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 an invitation to submit a complete application. The LOI process is very competitive and only a limited number of proposals are approved for additional review.

Written critiques are not available for LOIs.

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.

A Conflict of Interest (COI) exists when a reviewer (or their close family member) has a professional or financial interest that does, or could be construed to, bias their assessment of an application.

COIs include, but aren’t limited to, the following situations.

A reviewer or a close family member (now or in the past year):

  • Collaborates with the applicant
  • Subcontracts or consults with the applicant
  • Works at the same institution* as the applicant

*Institutions that are part of a large system are considered separate as long as they are operationally and financially independent of each other.  For example, UCSF and UCLA are considered separate institutions.

A reviewer may not review or be present for the discussion and scoring of an application or letter of intent when a COI exists.

 Human 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, they will be required either with full applications or “just in time” for projects approved to receive grant funding.

Restrictions 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 at the LOI or application stage, they may be requested if grant funding is awarded.