Funding for Early-Stage Investigators Doing Exploratory Research on Chemical Countermeasures

Funding News Edition: May 19, 2021
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NIH’s Chemical Countermeasures Research Program (CCRP) at NIAID supports research and early development of medical countermeasures (MCMs) to reduce mortality and morbidity during or after high consequence public emergency events involving the release of chemical agents. CCRP issues chemical MCM-focused funding opportunity announcements (FOAs), collectively referred to as the “Countermeasures Against Chemical Threats (CounterACT)” program, to engage and support the wider scientific community.

The new FOA NIH Countermeasures Against Chemical Threats (CounterACT) Early-Stage Investigator Research Award (R21, Clinical Trial Not Allowed) aims to recruit early-stage investigators (ESIs) into this field of research by funding exploratory, applied, proof-of-principle, or high-risk, high-impact research projects to discover safe and effective therapeutics to mitigate toxicities resulting from exposures to highly toxic chemicals.

Scientific Areas of Interest

The FOA identifies several chemical threat toxidromes from among hundreds of possible choices of interest:

  • Anticoagulants (brodifacoum, bromadiolone)
  • Blood agents (hydrogen cyanide, hydrogen sulfide)
  • Cholinergic warfare (sarin, soman, VX)
  • Cholinergic pesticides (parathion, chlorpyrifos, phorate, aldicarb)
  • Convulsant (picrotoxin, TETS, strychnine)
  • Hemolytic/metabolic (arsenic trioxide, thallium sulfate, arsine)
  • Opioids (fentanyl, diacetyl morphine)
  • Lower pulmonary (chlorine, phosgene)
  • Upper pulmonary (ammonia, sulfur dioxide, hydrogen fluoride)
  • Vesicants (sulfur and nitrogen mustard, phosgene oxime)

As many of the chemical threat agents of interest are extremely hazardous to humans, all applications must include a letter from appropriate institutional biosafety officials indicating that studies are deemed safe for research personnel and the environment. Applicants should collaborate with laboratories and contract research facilities that are already certified to work with restricted chemical agents.

Propose research activities relevant to developing new or improved MCMs for chemical threat agents. Examples include:

  • Basic mechanistic research to identify molecular mechanisms of acute toxicity
  • Creating and validating screening assays for therapy development
  • Identifying candidate therapeutics using primary and secondary screening efforts
  • Creating animal models for therapeutic development
  • Finding safer, more effective routes of administration or dosing for FDA-approved therapies

The FOA itself provides further instruction regarding research on pretreatment and prophylaxis, translational research, and acute versus chronic environmental exposure.

Don’t hesitate to discuss your research interests with the FOA’s scientific/research contacts. NIAID is represented by Dr. Dave Yeung.

Application Details

Although this FOA uses the R21 activity code, the budget limit and maximum project period differ from most other R21 FOAs. Budget requests are capped at $400,000 direct costs over a three-year project period, with no more than $200,000 requested for any one year.

Preliminary data are not required, expected, nor encouraged. If you include more than one-half page of preliminary data or more than one figure, we will consider your application noncompliant and not review it.

Successful applicants will not lose their ESI status. If submitting an application with multiple principal investigators (PIs), all PIs must meet the ESI definition.

Applications are due July 27, 2021.

To learn more about the CCRP and NIAID’s leadership role in supporting the discovery and early-stage development of MCMs against chemical threats, read “The National Institutes of Health Chemical Countermeasures Research Program (NIH CCRP): A Collaborative Opportunity To Develop Effective and Accessible Chemical Medical Countermeasures for the American People.”

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