June 2021 DMID Council-Approved Concepts

Concepts represent early planning stages for program announcements, requests for applications, notices of special interest, or solicitations for Council's input. If NIAID publishes an initiative from one of these concepts, we link to it below. To find initiatives, go to Opportunities & Announcements.

NB: Council approval does not guarantee that a concept will become an initiative.

Table of Contents

Fiscal Year (FY) 2022 Concepts

FY 2023 Concepts

Antiviral Drug Discovery (AViDD) Centers for Pathogens of Pandemic Concern

For the published request for applications, check the July 9, 2021 Guide announcement, Emergency Awards: Antiviral Drug Discovery (AViDD) Centers for Pathogens of Pandemic Concern (U19, Clinical Trial Not Allowed).

Systems Biology for Infectious Diseases (SysBioID)

For the published request for applications, check the September 27, 2021 Guide announcement, Systems Biology for Infectious Diseases (U19, Clinical Trial Not Allowed).  

Accelerating Group A Streptococcus Vaccine Discovery

For the published request for applications, check the October 15, 2021 Guide announcement, Advancing Group A Streptococcus Vaccine Discovery (R01, Clinical Trial Not Allowed).

Fundamental Research To Understand the Mechanisms of Neurotropic Virus-Mediated Disease

Request for Applications—proposed FY 2023 initiative

Contact: Lesley Dupuy

Objective: To promote basic research to better understand the mechanisms underlying viral invasion of the central nervous system (CNS), virus- and/or host immune-mediated neuropathogenesis, and the associated clinical manifestations for emerging and re-emerging neurotropic viruses.

Description: This initiative will support fundamental research into mechanisms that lead to neuropathogenesis after acute viral infection of the CNS. To fill this important knowledge gap, this initiative will focus on less-studied emerging and re-emerging neurotropic viruses for which there are currently no approved vaccines or therapeutics such as non-polio enteroviruses (e.g., EV-D68, EV-A71), flaviviruses (e.g., WNV, POWV, DTV), alphaviruses (e.g., EEEV, VEEV, CHIKV), bunyaviruses (e.g., RVFV, LACV), and paramyxoviruses (e.g., NiV, HeV). This initiative would exclude well-studied neurotropic viruses, many of which have approved vaccines or therapeutics, such as herpesviruses, orthomyxoviruses, rhabdoviruses, retroviruses, poliovirus, and certain paramyxoviruses (e.g., MV, MuV). The scope of the studies to be performed under this initiative would include, but not necessarily be limited to, the following:

  1. Identifying cellular host factors and mechanisms of cellular tropism of viral infection
  2. Route and mechanisms of invasion of the CNS (e.g., blood-brain barrier, blood-CSF barrier)
  3. Role of direct viral factors and host immune response/host cell signaling in inflammation of the CNS 
  4. Developing and refining in vitro and in vivo models for viral neuropathogenesis

Identification and Characterization of Persistence Mechanisms of Protozoan Pathogens

For the published request for applications, check the October 18, 2021 Guide announcement, Identification and Characterization of Persistence Mechanisms of Select Protozoan Pathogens (R01, Clinical Trial Not Allowed).

Host Immunity and Novel Immunization Strategies for Clostridioides difficile

Request for Applications—proposed FY 2023 initiative

Contact: Ryan Ranallo

Objective: To explore host adaptive immune responses to Clostridioides difficile with the goal of producing next-generation vaccine candidates.

Description: This initiative solicits applications from single or consortia institutions that focus on understanding host immunity and developing novel immunization strategies aimed at protecting individuals from infection with the nosocomial pathogen, Clostridioides difficile. The formation of new multidisciplinary collaborative research teams that focus on key knowledge gaps relating to host immunity to C. difficile is a critical component of this effort, as it will enable the rational design of next-generation vaccine candidates to bolster the C. difficile vaccine pipeline.

This program will support the formation of integrative teams and multiproject programs to conduct an in-depth exploration of host adaptive immune responses to C. difficile infection (CDI). Investigators will probe the role of systemic and mucosal immunity to CDI and determine the impact of the gut microbiome on the host immune response to infection. In addition to identifying new protective antigens for inclusion into novel preclinical vaccine candidates, each team will consider the impact of antigenic diversity on protection against CDI. The use of clinical data and samples (e.g., serum, stool, or peripheral cells) from high-risk cohorts (e.g., intensive care unit patients, long-term care residents, or oncology patients) will be leveraged to identify correlates of protection and to characterize cell-mediated immunity and immunological memory. The use of preclinical animal models that parallel the pathophysiology of the disease in at-risk humans will be encouraged, as will vaccine and adjuvant technology that are specifically designed to stimulate local (gut) mucosal immune responses.

Responsive U19 projects will focus on host immunity and vaccine development. Examples of research areas of interest include but are not limited to: 

  • Clinical Research: Cohort studies focused on gathering new insights from at-risk populations (e.g., >65 years, frequent antibiotic use, comorbidities).
  • Immunology Research: Studies focused on key knowledge gaps (e.g., systemic vs. mucosal immunity) and correlates of protection.
  • Microbial Pathogenesis Research: Studies focused on aspects of C. difficile pathogenesis and life cycle that lead to the discovery of novel protective antigens.
  • Microbiome and Host Immunity Research: Studies focused on the impact of the gut microbiota on host immunity to CDI.
  • Novel Vaccine Platforms and Improved Model Systems: Studies focused on testing preclinical vaccine candidates in animal models that parallel the pathophysiology of the disease.
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