Recapping June’s Advisory Council Meeting

Funding News Edition: July 07, 2022
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Colorized scanning electron micrograph of mpox virus on the surface of infected VERO E6 cells

NIAID pursues a robust basic and applied research portfolio while also maintaining capacity to respond rapidly to emerging and re-emerging disease threats.

Credit: NIAID

At the 201st meeting of NIAID’s Advisory Council, NIAID Director Dr. Anthony Fauci gave remarks on NIAID’s budget, scientific priorities, and research outcomes. Our Advisory Council also heard from Dr. Richard Koup, acting director of NIAID’s Vaccine Research Center (VRC), who discussed VRC’s recent findings and breakthroughs.

Also at the meeting, scientific subcommittees approved new concepts for NIAID funding initiatives—between our budget allocations from Congress and Council-approved concepts, forward-looking investigators can reasonably discern the direction of NIAID funding priorities.

To watch a video recording of the open session, go to NIAID Advisory Council Meeting—June 2022.

Staff Appointments

The following staff members were appointed to new positions.

  • Dr. Richard Koup was named acting director of VRC; Dr. Karin Bok is serving as acting deputy director of VRC; and Dr. Robert Seder is acting VRC chief medical officer.
  • Marie Parker was named NIAID associate director for science management.
  • Dr. Kelly Poe was appointed deputy director of NIAID’s Division of Extramural Activities (DEA).
  • Dr. Jennifer Meyers was named deputy director of DEA’s Scientific Review Program (SRP); Dr. Priti Mehrotra was named chief of SRP’s Microbiology Review Branch A.
  • Dr. Sonja Best was named chief of the Laboratory of Persistent Viral Diseases within NIAID’s Division of Intramural Research.

Beyond NIAID, Dr. Robert Califf was confirmed by the Senate to serve as FDA commissioner, and Dr. Ashish Jha was appointed White House COVID-19 response coordinator. Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus was re-elected director-general of the World Health Organization.

Budget News

In comparing the fiscal year (FY) 2022 enacted budget with the FY 2021 enacted budget, Dr. Fauci noted that the overall increase for NIH is 7.5 percent, although the increase was not uniform across NIH’s institutes and centers (ICs). Many ICs received increases of 3 to 6 percent over the FY 2021 budget, with even more significant upticks for the National Institute on Aging and the National Institute on Drug Abuse. Also included within NIH’s FY 2022 budget is significant support for the new Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H).

NIAID received an increase of 4.2 percent over its FY 2021 budget, to a total of $6.322 billion.

Dr. Fauci highlighted those research areas for which Congress specifically directed NIAID to spend allocated budget amounts, totaling $1.032 billion:

  • $71 million for ending the HIV epidemic
  • $245 million for universal influenza vaccine research
  • $110 million for tick-borne disease research
  • $540 million to study antimicrobial resistance
  • $9.1 million for the Consortium of Food Allergy Research
  • $5 million toward SARS-CoV-2 immunity profiling
  • $52 million for Regional Biocontainment Laboratories

President Biden’s budget proposal for FY 2023 would raise overall NIH funding by nearly 10 percent. The President’s budget includes $12 billion for pandemic preparedness over a five-year period, most of which NIAID would be responsible for managing in service of research on vaccines and vaccine platforms, monoclonal antibodies, and adjuvants to provide protection against prototype pathogens.

Dr. Fauci announced our R01 NIAID Paylines for FY 2022, summarized our Financial Management Plan, and shared an estimate that FY 2022 success rates for NIAID research project grants are likely to range between 18 and 22 percent.   

He concluded by highlighting funds provided to NIAID to respond to COVID-19 through the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and the Coronavirus Preparedness and Response Supplemental Appropriations Act. Taken together, NIAID received $1.532 billion, of which we’ve spent $1.284 billion on basic research, pathogenesis, animal models, epidemiology, natural history studies, diagnostics, therapeutics, vaccines, and infrastructure. NIAID also acted in support of $3.058 billion spent by the HHS Coordination and Operations Response Element on therapeutics and vaccines.

Legislative and Outreach Activities

On May 11, Dr. Fauci provided testimony to the House Appropriations Labor-HHS Subcommittee on the President’s FY 2023 NIH Budget Request, our Pandemic Preparedness Plan, and the latest research outcomes related to COVID-19 vaccines and treatment. Then, on May 17, Dr. Fauci took up those same topics at a hearing of the Senate Appropriations Labor-HHS Subcommittee, where the Senators were especially interested in NIAID’s work to understand and treat Long COVID.

Routinely, Dr. Fauci provided briefings to House and Senate members on COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics. He partook in the annual Dominicans on the Hill event, and met virtually and in person with international leaders and researchers, including delegates from England, Ecuador, South Korea, Italy, and India.

Scientific Topics

Dr. Fauci explained NIAID’s responsibility to pursue a robust basic and applied research portfolio while also maintaining capacity to respond rapidly to emerging and re-emerging disease threats. In this context, he discussed the recent outbreak of monkeypox in non-endemic countries.

Next, Dr. Fauci provided an update on COVID-19 case counts, transmissibility of evolving variants, vaccine dose eligibility, booster shots to counter waning immune protection, and current therapeutics.

Finally, before taking questions from Council members, Dr. Fauci covered PEPFAR outcomes, a recent drop in HIV diagnoses in the United States, and three experimental mRNA HIV vaccines that recently began Phase I clinical trials to test safety and ability to induce immune response.

Guest Presentation on VRC Activities

In reviewing some of VRC’s successes over the last year, Dr. Koup covered the Center’s work on COVID-19 through monoclonal antibody isolation and characterization as well as the scientific basis for boosting. He also described VRC efforts regarding universal influenza vaccines and pandemic preparedness.

VRC’s unique facilities and capabilities allow it to translate basic scientific discoveries into manufacturing of clinical grade materials for use in first-in-human clinical trials. Industry partners can then advance VRC products into fully developed, licensed products. Dr. Koup explained that, in this way, VRC played a major role in the successful development of COVID-19 vaccines and therapeutics.

Beyond COVID, Dr. Koup described VRC’s work on nanoparticle-based vaccine platforms, viral family prototype pathogens, fusion protein engineering, and immunological surveillance.

If you would like to view Dr. Koup’s presentation, it begins at approximately the 55-minute mark of the NIAID Advisory Council Meeting—June 2022 videocast.         

Subcommittee Summaries

At each Council session, scientific subcommittees review and approve concepts for NIAID initiatives, which are targeted research funding opportunities. While not all approved concepts become funding opportunities later, concepts highlight NIAID research interests and can be good topics for investigator-initiated applications.

NIAID scientific staff present our June concepts and subcommittees discuss them in the following videocast recordings.

Find text summaries of the approved concepts on these webpages:

For a list of other approved concepts, see Concepts—Potential Opportunities. To receive an email when we post new concepts, sign up at NIAID Email Alerts Subscription Center.

Save the Date

To watch the next NIAID Advisory Council meeting on September 12, 2022, stream live video of the open session at NIH VideoCasting or find the archived recording afterward.

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