Funding for Program Projects To Advance Pan-Coronavirus Vaccine Candidates

Funding News Edition: November 18, 2020
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With multiple promising SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidates now under development, NIAID is looking ahead to potential pan-coronavirus (pan-CoV) vaccine candidates capable of providing broad protective immunity to multiple CoV strains. Getting there necessitates highly collaborative, multidisciplinary program projects (P01s) to incorporate understanding of CoV virology and immunology, immunogen design, and innovative vaccine and adjuvant platforms and technologies.

Thus, we intend to fund collaborative, multidisciplinary P01 awards to discover, design, and develop pan-CoV vaccine candidates through Emergency Awards: Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) on Pan-Coronavirus Vaccine Development Program Projects.

Each P01 award will consist of multiple research projects as well as an administrative core and any scientific cores needed to support the research projects. Each program should include research projects to:

  • Address CoV diversity and infectious potential in humans as it relates to vaccine design challenges.
  • Include innovative immunogen design and vaccine platforms/approaches to elicit potent and durable pan-CoV immunity.
  • Evaluate CoV vaccine candidates in preclinical models, incorporating detailed immunologic assessments in blood and tissues.

Drilling down further, NIAID is especially interested in program projects that accomplish the following:

  • Identification of broadly reactive B- and T-cell epitopes
  • Structural studies of CoV proteins related to designing novel, effective immunogens
  • Rational design of CoV immunogens to elicit broadly neutralizing, durable antibodies against multiple CoVs
  • Studies to understand the role of antigen-specific T-cell responses in immunity to CoVs, including strategies to induce T-cell immunity
  • Studies to identify correlates of protection against CoVs following natural infection or vaccination
  • Studies to understand vaccine-induced responses across the lifespan, including investigation of age- or sex-related effects on vaccine efficacy
  • Studies to understand the impact of previous exposure to CoVs on subsequent vaccine responses
  • Studies to identify antigen/adjuvant combinations to induce potent and broad protection against multiple CoVs
  • Development of multi-valent and next-generation vaccine platforms/strategies to provide durable immunity to multiple CoVs, and that are suitable for use in vulnerable populations
  • Iterative studies and head-to-head comparisons of candidate vaccines in relevant preclinical models are encouraged to advance the most promising vaccine candidates
  • Strategies to direct protective immune responses to relevant tissues, such as mucosal sites

This list of example areas of research is not exhaustive. Further, your program and projects should have a flexible design to better respond to newly emerging understanding of immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection and vaccination.

Finally, if your application proposes basic studies of COVID-19 immunology without targeted vaccine design and evaluation of vaccine candidates in preclinical models, NIAID will consider it nonresponsive to this NOSI.

Administrative Details

As with any P01 application submitted to NIAID, you should seek a prior consultation with NIAID staff at least 10 weeks before applying so we can advise you on whether the proposed program project meets the goals and mission of the Institute and addresses one or more high-priority research areas. Also, review our P01 Program Project Grants, Multiproject Research (P, U) Applications, and Multiple Principal Investigators webpages for general advice on writing a successful multiproject application.

If your application’s budget will exceed $500,000 or more in direct costs in any one year, you must request our approval at least six weeks before applying in accordance with the Big Grants policy. While the application budget is not limited, it should reflect the actual needs of the proposed project.

Your proposed project period cannot exceed five years.

Submit your application through NIAID Investigator-Initiated Program Project Applications (P01, Clinical Trial Not Allowed). To be considered for funding through this NOSI, you must designate NOT-AI-21-002 in the Agency Routing Identifier field (Box 4b) of the SF 424 R&R Form.

The NOSI has only two receipt dates: January 11, 2021, and June 11, 2021. We will accept resubmission (A1) applications in response to this NOSI.

NIAID’s scientific/research contact for the NOSI is Dr. Erik Stemmy. Contact him if you have any questions or to seek prior consultation and big grant approval before applying.

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