amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

Targeted RFP – Biomedical Research:
Establishment of a research consortium to explore the barriers to and potential for eradication of HIV infection.
Application Deadline: Closed



Available Support

amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research, is pleased to announce plans to establish and support a consortium—consisting of several collaborations—of biomedical researchers to explore the barriers to and potential for eradicating HIV infection.

Funding will be available for:

Collaborations—Each collaboration is funded for a total of up to $300,000 for direct costs plus up to 20 percent for indirect costs. The performance period for collaborations funded under this RFP will be for one year starting May 1, 2010, and may be renewable for subsequent years. Each collaboration must consist of at least two interrelated research projects and involve at least two independent, faculty-level researchers.


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 for collaborations to explore the obstacles to and strategies for eradicating HIV infection. Highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has significantly improved 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 establish a consortium consisting of several collaborations. The purpose of the consortium is to explore barriers to and the potential for the eradication of HIV infection as a condition requiring medical treatment, i.e., a sterilizing or functional cure.

amfAR would like to fund one collaboration in each of the following three areas. Some, but not all, potential topics of interest within each of the three collaboration areas are listed:

  • Sterilizing cure: i.e., eliminating HIV from the body of an infected person
    • Gene therapy techniques/vectors
    • "Shock and kill” strategies
    • Methods to identify and specifically target infected cells
    • Replication and/or exploration of factors contributing to the Berlin patient outcome
  • Functional cure: i.e., achieving a state of persistent HIV infection without the need for medical treatment
    • What can be learned from specific populations of interest such as elite controllers, long-term non-progressors, and patients who initiate therapy during acute infection? How can this information be applied to devising a functional cure?
    • What are the immune or other implications of persistent infection, even in the absence of disease?
  • Characterizing viral reservoirs:
    • Which cells under which conditions contribute which roles to the reservoir(s)?
    • Mechanisms for reservoir maintenance
    • Assays to measure perturbation of reservoir
    • Latency and the extent to which it exists in different cell types
    • Nature and origin of blips
    • Animal models

Definitions and exclusions
Each collaboration must consist of at least two interrelated research projects and involve at least two independent, faculty-level researchers. All principal and collaborating investigators must be doctoral level. Each collaboration must have access to and describe how they would use patients or clinical samples as part of their research plan.

Any collaboration participant, i.e., principal or collaborating investigator, key personnel (including postdoctoral researchers and their mentors), and consultants, may be part of only one application.

Special notes
Please note that this RFP is differs from recent ones in the following ways:

  • Grants will be awarded to support collaborations, not individual researchers.
  • The direct cost maximum is $300,000.
  • Funding may be renewable.
  • Pre-submission forms and letters of intent are not required.


Eligibility and Qualifications

Collaborative research grants are awarded to nonprofit institutions worldwide to support investigator-led projects approved by the Foundation. They are not awarded to for-profit entities or to individuals. With the exception of colleges or universities, governmental units or agencies are not eligible to receive funding through grants made under this RFP.  The recipient organization will be legally and financially responsible for the use of grant funds.

Principal and collaborating investigators must be doctoral-level researchers and hold a faculty-level (or equivalent) position.

The principal investigator must be affiliated with the applicant organization. The principal investigator will be expected to actively lead one of the component projects; actively participate in the development, implementation, and analysis of the project as whole; and be responsible for coordinating the preparation and submission of required progress reports.

Collaborating investigators may be affiliated with any research organization that is not a governmental unit or agency. Collaborating investigators are expected to actively lead a component project and play an active role in the development, implementation, and analysis of the project as a whole.


Forms, Instructions, and Deadlines

The preferred method for obtaining application forms is to e-mail amfAR at We will send a complete set of forms and instructions. Otherwise, you may download forms as described below.

Completed applications are to be e-mailed to no later than March 25, 5:00 p.m. EDT.

Please make sure the body of the e-mail includes the principal investigator’s name and contact information.

Important Notice
Pre-submission notice and letters of intent are NOT required under this RFP. Applications that are received late, are incomplete, or exceed word limitations (please see instructions for details) will not be accepted for review. Fax submissions are not accepted.

Forms and Instructions
You may use the links below to download the application instructions and forms.  Please note that you will need to download the instructions and all of the forms to prepare a complete application.

Application Instructions 

Application Forms
Collaboration Information Form
Table of Contents
Key Personnel and Abstract
Summary Budget and Justification
Subcontract/Component Budget and Justification
Biographical Sketch Form
Other Support Form
Resources and Environment Form 

The Research Plan consists of separate research plans of no more than 2,500 words for each of the component projects covering background and rationale, preliminary studies, specific aims, experimental design, procedures, and data analysis to be used. There are no forms for the research plan; formatting and submission requirements are detailed in the application instructions.

Send one hard copy of the Collaboration Information Form (bearing original signatures) to:

amfAR Grants
120 Wall Street, 13th Floor
New York, NY 10005-3908, USA

If you are not able to download the forms or have questions about the application requirements, please e-mail or telephone 212-806-1752.

Submission of an application is not a guarantee of funding. The review and approval process is highly competitive.


Review and Approval Process

amfAR intends to encourage and support HIV/AIDS research of the highest quality. Each application is first subject to an overall conformance review by the Foundation staff; applications 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. Every properly prepared and submitted application received in response to an RFP is peer reviewed. Reviewers evaluate (1) the scientific merit of the proposal; (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.

Principal and collaborating investigators may be asked to participate as reviewers for applications submitted in topic areas other than the one under which they are applying. For example, investigators collaborating on a proposal concerning “sterilizing cure” would only be asked to review proposals relevant to “functional cure” or “characterizing viral reservoirs.”

Final funding decisions are made by amfAR’s board of trustees, which holds the sole authority to approve project funding.


Policies and Conditions

Collaborative research grants satisfy various financial obligations incurred in the course of an HIV/AIDS-related investigation. In general, a collaborative research grant provides support for the direct costs of salaries for professional and technical personnel, laboratory supplies and equipment, travel, and the publication of findings. Support for grantee indirect costs is limited to a maximum of 20 percent of total direct costs excluding subcontracts.

To Whom Grants Are Made
amfAR grants are awarded solely to nonprofit institutions; they are not awarded to individual investigators. Accordingly, an application must bear the signature of an official authorized to sign for the institution. If requested, the applicant institution must submit proof of its nonprofit status. Applications are neither requested nor accepted from for-profit entities or from individuals.

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. Individuals or entities compensated in full or in part with grant funds are employees or contractors of the grantee institution, not of amfAR.

Personnel supported with grant funds 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. They may, however, sponsor fellowship applicants. 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.

Restrictions on the Use of Funds
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 research;
  • The purchase, lease, rental, or servicing of office equipment;
  • Funding for dissertation research.

Travel costs are limited to $1,000 per investigator (principal investigator and collaborating investigators).

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.

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

Indirect Costs
Indirect costs are limited to 20 percent of expended direct costs excluding subcontract amounts. However, indirect costs of no more than 20 percent may be included in subcontract budgets (i.e., paid by the grantee institution to a collaborating organization or consultant).

amfAR grants are not meant to cover the total cost of a proposed research project. Grantee and collaborating institutions are expected to provide the necessary physical facilities and administrative services, as well as other supporting services normally available at a research institution. Expenses generally considered to be indirect costs (i.e., overhead) 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.  Because indirect costs are a function of direct costs, the budget for indirect costs may not be modified, and in no case will the Foundation reimburse any indirect costs beyond the stated 20 percent of direct cost expenditures excluding subcontracts.

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 for applications, applicants should anticipate and prepare for their submission as part of the award process.

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

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 abstract form to be confidential. That information may be made public as a description of the project being funded by amfAR. Submission of an application is deemed acceptance of these provisions.

Human and Animal Subjects / Biohazards
Applicants are required to submit documentation of institutional approvals (from grantee and collaborating institutions) 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 documentation of approval is not required at the application stage, investigators should prepare for Institutional Review Board, Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee, or Institutional Biosafety Committee submissions in advance of or immediately following funding notification. amfAR requires that all approvals be in place prior to the release of grant funds and reserves the right to withdraw funding should said approvals not be received within 90 days following the issuance of a notice of award.