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August 6, 2014

Feature Articles

Opportunities and Resources

In The News

Advice Corner

New Funding Opportunities

Header: Feature Articles.

A Convenient Source of Human Biospecimens for HIV Research

Tissue procurement can be a big challenge, particularly if you work in HIV/AIDS research. If you are looking for a reliable source of tissues from HIV-positive donors or control tissues from normal donors, check out the NDRI HIV Tissue Procurement Program.

The National Disease Research Interchange (NDRI), which is supported by NIAID, is a nationwide network capable of capturing tissues from post mortem and surgical donors. Investigators can make highly detailed requests, specifying tissue type, sample size and frequency; preservation techniques; and donor criteria like demographics, medications, and comorbidities.

NDRI can also provide de-identified data about each donor; depending upon the source, this is not limited to demographic information, but may include medical-social history, serological testing, and HIV/AIDS-specific clinical data.

NDRI sent more than 150 biospecimens to 15 HIV researchers last year, and has delivered thousands of specimens to more than 100 researchers since the program started.

Benefits to Using NDRI

Since NDRI receives funding from NIH, including the Office of the Director and NIAID, the fees charged to researchers are reasonable. There are additional fees for certain services, including serology testing, but again NDRI’s services are relatively inexpensive.

Most investigators who participate in the procurement program already have NIH funding. However, that is not a requirement. If you are preparing to apply for a funding opportunity, NDRI can provide a letter of support to verify the program as a viable source of tissue procurement for your project.

Before you can use NDRI samples, you will need institutional review board (IRB) approval or, if you are working only with post mortem samples, proof of IRB notification.

NDRI ships specimens within the U.S. and internationally. Since import requirements vary from country to country, the importing researcher is responsible for getting the appropriate permits and paperwork in place. NDRI's courier will fulfill any export-related requirements.

How to Get Started

If you are interested in using NDRI’s program, start by emailing HIV Tissue Procurement Program staff or call 1-800-222-6374. Describe the type of tissues you want and they will let you know if your need is feasible.

When you are ready to apply, first complete the Feasibility Application. The form asks for information about the principal investigator (PI) and the project, as well as the sort of sample you are requesting.

Typically, NDRI’s review of your feasibility application takes three to four business days. If there are any problems, NDRI’s Scientific Services will contact you with suggestions for modification.

Once your application has passed a feasibility assessment, you will receive a Project Development Application. On this form, you will provide more detailed information on your sample request and establish a protocol for receiving and using the specimens that NDRI provides.

After you and NDRI agree to a protocol, you will receive a customized, written protocol and an Approval Letter. Once you sign it, NDRI will begin screening donors to match your tissue request. When a match is found, NDRI will notify you, capture the sample, and ship it according to your protocol. You must fill out the shipment QA form that accompanies the shipment and return it to NDRI within 48 hours of receipt.

The availability of tissue samples depends on several variables outside of NDRI’s control. Higher levels of customization in your request will correspond to lesser frequency of tissue recovery and greater waiting times.

If you would like more information about the program, contact NIAID program officer Dr. Kailash C. Gupta.

Header: Opportunities and Resources.

Funding for Research on Diseases Caused by Free-Living Amoebae

Do you have an idea that could lead to new or novel interventions against amebiasis, giardiasis, trichomoniasis, or other diseases caused by free-living amoebae?

Consider a new funding opportunity for early-stage, preclinical investigations into promising therapeutic approaches for these diseases.

This R21/R33 phased innovation award starts out as a two-year R21 award for milestone-driven proof-of-concept studies, with potential for three additional years of support to further develop your project under an R33 award.

Optional letters of intent are due by September 30, 2014. The application deadline is October 30, 2014. Read the July 3, 2014, Guide notice for more information, including application instructions, details about the transition process, and a list of potential topics.

Also read our R21/R33 Phased Innovation Award SOP and note that for this funding opportunity, we won't review applications that propose clinical trials or address amoebic keratitis.

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An Alternate Route to Market for Small Businesses

Great news for small businesses: Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) applicants can apply for Direct-to-Phase II (R44) funding to develop and commercialize inventions from NIAID’s intramural research laboratories.

The Technology

The goal of the new funding opportunity announcement (FOA) is to move commercially-viable diagnostic inventions from NIAID's intramural research laboratories into the marketplace. Thus, your project must rely on the use of an NIAID intramural invention.

Such inventions include those that:

  • Detect any of the following infectious disease pathogens: Anthrax, dengue virus types 1-4, human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), Hepatitis A Virus (HAV), Hepatitis E Virus (HEV), lymphatic filariasis or negative strand RNA viruses (such as Ebola virus and Marburg virus).
  • Can be adapted for use in high-throughput screening procedures to identify drugs to treat infectious diseases such as human metapneumovirus, Hepatitis C Virus (HCV) or HEV.
  • Detect early cancers by detecting expression, DNA binding, or function of the transcription factor BORIS (Brother of Regulator Imprinted Sites).

A complete list of eligible inventions is available on our SBIR-TT NIAID Diagnostics page. Applications that do not relate to any of these inventions will be considered nonresponsive.

Keep in mind that the U.S. government has various levels of patent protection over these inventions. If selected for SBIR funding, you will be granted a royalty-free, non-exclusive, internal research-use license, with the intent that you will develop the technology into a commercial product to benefit the public.

Awardees will be able to collaborate with NIAID intramural scientists and inventors. This could take the form of reagent sharing or regular strategic discussions. If you are not planning any collaboration with intramural scientists, you should explain why in your application.

Prior Research

Your application must demonstrate your product’s readiness for Phase II research. We are seeking technology that has already demonstrated feasibility. You should prove your invention’s viability using data or evidence of the capability, completeness of design, and efficacy, as well as your rationale for selecting the criteria you used to validate the technology, prototype, or method.

Alternatively, you should use the standard Phase II opportunity, as explained in this June 24, 2013, Guide notice, if your product has already undergone formal Phase I research.

All Phase II applications must include a succinct Commercialization Plan. Specific details for preparing your plan are provided in section 4.9 of the SF 424 (R&R) SBIR/STTR Application Guide for NIH and Other PHS Agencies.

Before You Apply

We strongly encourage you to contact Dr. Natalia Kruchinin, NIAID's scientific contact, to discuss your project if you are considering applying.

Your funding request should not exceed $1 million for the duration of the project. If you provide appropriate justification, you may request up to $1.5 million. Under special circumstances, we can issue an award that exceeds $1.5 million; we’ll let you know if your research is applicable in our discussions with you before you apply.

Note that this FOA will not accept Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) applications.

Optional letters of intent are due October 24, 2014. Applications are due November 14, 2014. This includes AIDS and non-AIDS applications.

For full details, read the July 2, 2014, Guide notice.

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FOA Focus: The Latent HIV Reservoir and Assays to Quantify It

Through a recent funding opportunity announcement (FOA), NIAID seeks to cure HIV infection by supporting research on innovative high-throughput approaches for quantifying latently-infected cells that persist in HIV-positive people on highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART).

An ideal assay would be one that 1) quantifies resting CD4 memory T cells that contain integrated, replication-competent provirus and 2) overcomes the following challenges:

  • The low frequency of these cells (only about 1 in 106 resting cells contains functional provirus).
  • The lack of cell surface markers distinguishing latently-infected cells from uninfected cells.
  • The abundance of defective HIV DNA (only about one percent of HIV DNA in resting CD4 T cells represents replication-competent provirus).

We are interested in novel approaches to quantify latent HIV reservoirs that address the aforementioned challenges and correlate with the level of replication-competent virus present in latently-infected cells as determined by the quantitative-viral outgrowth assay (Q-VOA).

And speaking of Q-VOA, this FOA will also support projects that aim to improve upon this "gold-standard" assay. For example, miniaturizing it to allow high-throughput analysis of single cells.

NIAID can provide limited resources in the form of Q-VOA services and access to latently-infected resting T cells from HIV-positive individuals. To learn more, contact Dr. Karl Salzwedel.

For full FOA details, including specific areas of research interest, read the June 27, 2014, Guide notice. Optional letters of intent are due October 7, 2014. The application deadline is November 7, 2014.

Header: Other News.

Loan Repayment Programs: New Notices Issued, New Application Cycle to Begin

Student loans can be cumbersome, but NIH's Loan Repayment Programs (LRP) can ease some of the burden.

You can get up to $35,000 towards your educational debt each year if you're an eligible doctoral-level clinician or researcher who's committed to conducting qualified research for at least two years.

If you're interested, read the July 16, 2014, Guide notices for the two programs NIAID supports:

You may submit your application from September 1 through November 15.

To learn more about LRP, go to NIAID's Loan Repayment Programs and check out these resources:

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Help Us Help You: Improving NIAID Resources

Are you satisfied with NIAID’s grant-related resources? Let us know!

Social and Scientific Systems, Inc. is soliciting survey responses about the NIH/NIAID knowledge management resources, such as information, services, tools, and technology.

Both staff and the external community are invited to reply. It should take only 15 minutes of your time.

Using the survey data, NIAID will improve and better target grant resources for NIH staff and external scientific, professional, and lay communities.

If you would like to send feedback but haven’t received an email invitation, ask for one by contacting the NIAID Extramural Policy and Procedure Information and Knowledge Dissemination Program.

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News Briefs

NIH's Research Program—Why What We Do Matters. Dr. Sally Rockey, NIH's deputy director for extramural research, discusses the “big picture” of NIH in a video titled NIH: The View From 10,000 Feet. Learn about the largest biomedical research organization in the world, and how day-to-day topics such as policies, funding, and workforce challenges fit into NIH’s mission.  

Change to CFAR FOA for Proposals That Involve Human Subjects. For those planning to apply for a Centers for AIDS Research and Developmental Centers for AIDS Research (P30) grant, you must now include additional attachments to the Administrative Core section of your application if you plan to do human subjects research. See the July 22, 2014, Guide notice for full details.

Thinking Ahead About Addressing Sex Differences in Research. Check out the NIH Office of Research on Women's Health’s Studying Sex to Strengthen Science site, including new Questions and Answers, designed to inform researchers on how NIH will address sex imbalance in preclinical research.

Header: Advice Corner.

Have Research News Worth Sharing? Let Us Help Spread the Word

"Eureka!" moments in research are difficult to come by, so when you have one, you want to let people know by publicizing it. Our Office of Communications and Government Relations (OCGR) can help you get the word out.

When you’ve submitted a significant finding to a journal and it's been accepted, notify your program officer and institution’s press office. The more notice you can give about an upcoming publication, the better since there will be more time to work on publicity.

In the event your institution issues a news release about your work, OCGR will help spread the word by posting a link to it on our News From NIAID-Supported Institutions page. OCGR staff will also consider your manuscript for possible additional publicity from NIAID, which might include an Institute news release, a feature on our Web site, or a mention through our social media channels.

Learn more in our Requesting NIAID's Help on Publicizing Research Advances SOP.

For a weekly rundown of news releases issued by NIAID-supported institutions and businesses, go to NIAID Email Updates and select that option from your profile page.

Header: Reader Questions.

Feel free to send us a question at deaweb@niaid.nih.gov. After responding to you, we may include your question in the newsletter, incorporate it into the NIAID Research Funding site, or both.

"I am applying for a diversity supplement. What is the timeframe requirement for the parent grant?"—Lisa Allen, University of Alabama at Birmingham

At the time of submission* of a diversity supplement application, the parent grant must have support remaining for a reasonable period (usually two years or more). If your parent grant has a performance period of two years or less (e.g., R21, R03, R41, R43), the proposed supplement should support activities and career levels appropriate for these short performance periods. For your reference, here is the program announcement.

Remember, no-cost extensions are not considered when determining time remaining on the parent grant.

For additional information, go to our Research Supplements to Promote Diversity in Health-Related Research page.

*Correction: We changed the original text, which read "At the time of [...] award," to "At the time of submission..." to better reflect NIAID-specific guidance.

"The next AIDS application deadline, September 7, 2014, falls on a Sunday. What's the real deadline to submit?"—anonymous reader

Monday, September 8, 2014, for AIDS and AIDS-Related Applications. For your benefit, we roll the deadline forward rather than push it back.

Still, we encourage you to start early in case of unforeseen delays, as explained in Timing for Submitting Your Application.

Header: New Funding Opportunities.

See other announcements at NIAID Funding Opportunities List.

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Last Updated August 12, 2014

Last Reviewed August 12, 2014