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Opportunity To Join Cooperative Centers on Human Immunology Program

Since 2003, the Cooperative Centers on Human Immunology (CCHI) program has supported studies that will advance understanding of the mechanisms regulating human immune responses, primarily in the area of infectious diseases.

Through a reissued funding opportunity announcement (FOA) for Cooperative Centers on Human Immunology (U19, Clinical Trial Optional) you can apply for new or competitive renewal grant funding. NIAID is especially interested in applications that propose studies to understand mechanisms for regulating activation and function of human immune responses to infection, vaccination, and adjuvants. Studies on immune-mediated diseases are also of interest where such studies serve as tools to provide a more comprehensive understanding of the human immune system.

Plan your application such that at least one project focuses on understanding human immunity applicable to immunity against infectious diseases, vaccines, or adjuvants. A project on immune-mediated disease is not required.

Responsive research projects may study:

  • Mechanisms of tissue/organ-specific and mucosal immunity
  • Molecular mechanisms of innate immunity, including trained immunity
  • Mechanisms responsible for adjuvant efficacy or reactogenicity
  • Mechanisms of synergy and regulation at the innate-adaptive immune interface
  • Mechanisms regulating generation and maintenance of T and B cell memory
  • Mechanisms regulating exhaustion of the immune response to chronic infection/exposure and their impact on vaccine responses
  • Effect of the microbiota on immune responses
  • Epigenetic and/or metabolic regulation of the immune response
  • Immunoregulation pathways, including control of inflammatory processes

You can also propose a research project focused on technology development:

  • Studies to develop one or more new technologies or assays that support the central scientific theme of the application
  • Nano- or micro-assays to reduce required sample size
  • Single cell assay development
  • Development of new reagents to study human immunity
  • Techniques to improve high-throughput screening methods
  • Computational tools for analyzing human immune responses and interpolating data generated from animal studies
  • Imaging technologies for analyses of in vivo immune responses
  • Improved assays of immune effector function, such as antibody or cytokine production, or cytotoxic activity

Remember, your application should be synergistic, with its various research projects and cores linked by a common theme. For example, an application may include different infections, vaccines, adjuvants, and immune-mediated diseases to examine a common immune pathway or mechanism.

You should use collaborative, interdisciplinary teams to better accomplish your research goals. Look to combine expertise in immunology, infectious diseases, vaccinology, immune-mediated diseases, omics technologies, and bioinformatics.

While the overall purpose of your application must be understanding human immunity through analyzing human samples, you may include animal studies to guide mechanistic analyses of human samples. This FOA does not support vaccine or product development, but you may propose clinical trials where the primary objective is to obtain human samples for mechanistic studies of immune function.

Conversely, NIAID will consider nonresponsive and not review applications that propose:

  • To focus on vaccine or product development for infectious or immune-mediated disease specific indications
  • Not to focus on mechanisms of the activation and regulation of human immune responses
  • Not to include at least one research project focused on understanding host defenses applicable to the biodefense effort, e.g., innate, adaptive, and mucosal immune responses to infection, vaccination, and adjuvants
  • Not to include the use of primary human cells, fluids, or tissue in research projects
  • Large-scale immune profiling studies to generate hypotheses in the absence of mechanistic studies
  • Clinical trials in which the primary objective is to test the safety or efficacy of an investigational vaccine, adjuvant, or other product
  • Projects with primary focus on T or B cell epitope discovery or validation
  • HIV/SIV/AIDS studies
  • Development of new animal models
  • Genome-wide association studies
  • Cancer studies, except those examining immune responses to infectious diseases or pathogen-specific vaccines in cancer patients
  • Behavioral research or epidemiological studies

Finally, your application must include annual "Milestones and Timelines" with clearly stated objectives.

Other Application Requirements

This FOA uses the Cooperative Research Program Project (U19) activity code, which allows for substantial NIAID programmatic staff involvement to assist investigators during performance of the research activities, and certain basic shared resources, including clinical components, to facilitate the total research effort.

The CCHI program structure includes an Administrative Core, an Infrastructure and Opportunity Fund (IOF) Management Core, Service Cores (optional), Research Projects, Technology Development Project (optional), a Steering Committee, an External Advisory Board, and an External Scientific Advisory Group (optional).

To help determine how to include these components in your application, refer to our Questions and Answers for RFA-AI-17-040, Cooperative Centers on Human Immunology (U19, Clinical Trial Optional).

NIAID intends to commit $16.16 million in fiscal year 2019 to fund five or six awards, which includes $900,000 annual direct costs to support an IOF.

Your budget request cannot exceed $2.4 million in annual direct costs. Within that sum, you are limited to $1.5 million in annual direct costs for all projects and cores other than the IOF Management Core and $900,000 in annual direct costs for the IOF Management Core, of which $150,000 should be designated for management of the core itself.

The scope of the proposed project should determine the project period. The maximum period is five years.

The deadline to submit your application is March 28, 2018. Optional letters of intent are due one month earlier.

If you have questions, ask Dr. Lakshmi Ramachandra, NIAID’s scientific/research contact for this FOA.

Content last reviewed on December 20, 2017

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