Study Innate Immune Memory Impacting HIV Acquisition

Funding News Edition: August 04, 2021
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NIH intends to fund exploratory research to increase knowledge of innate immune memory and HIV acquisition through the new funding opportunity announcement (FOA) Innate Immune Memory Impacting HIV Acquisition and/or Control (R21, Clinical Trial Not Allowed). The FOA focuses on research that investigates innate immune cell effector functions to prevent HIV infection or disease establishment.

Research Objectives and Scope

Currently, there is no efficacious HIV vaccine; traditionally, most vaccine developers have relied primarily on an adaptive immune response. Innate immune memory has the potential to help protect against HIV infection through enhanced effector functions even before the full development of the adaptive immune response. NIAID is interested in supporting research that can inform protective vaccine strategies that engage, enhance, and extend innate immune cell effector functions without causing harm.

Through the research funded by this FOA, we hope to answer the following key scientific questions:

  • Does HIV exposure or infection induce innate immune memory?
  • What mechanisms regulate innate immune memory which impact HIV acquisition?
  • Can innate memory functions be augmented for more effective HIV vaccination/control strategies?

Research Areas of Interest

This FOA supports hypothesis-driven approaches including but not limited to:

  • Investigating the mechanisms of innate memory, as relevant to HIV
  • Subunit versus vectored versus live vaccines
  • Innate immune cell types and their effector cell functions
  • Pattern recognition receptors/toll-like receptors that can be engaged
  • Epigenetics: methylation and acetylation of DNA in innate immune cells
  • Metabolic changes leading to reprogramming of innate immune cells
  • Examining HIV vaccination for induction of innate immune memory (For samples, go to Specimen Repository.)
  • Adapting current HIV vaccines to include components which may induce innate memory

Nonresponsive Areas of Interest

NIAID considers applications addressing the following research areas of interest to be nonresponsive and will not review them:

  • Studies that do not include HIV, SIV, or SHIV
  • Studies focused solely on HIV pathogenesis
  • Strategies that focus solely on the adaptive immune response
  • Descriptive studies without evaluation of innate immune memory
  • Therapeutic interventions
  • Animal model development
  • Clinical trials

Due Dates and Contact Information

Note that the R21 mechanism for this FOA does not require preliminary data. The total project period may not exceed two years and the combined budget for direct costs for the two-year period may not exceed $275,000. Applicants cannot request more than $200,000 in any single year.

Applications for this FOA are due on December 6, 2021, at 5 p.m. local time of the applicant organization. Note that this due date differs from the standard AIDS due dates, which are the set of dates with which applicants will be more familiar.

Direct any questions to Dr. Que Dang, NIAID’s research contact for this initiative.

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