September 2018 DMID Council-Approved Concepts

Concepts represent early planning stages for program announcements, requests for applications, 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

Emerging Infectious Diseases Research Centers

Request for Applications—proposed FY 2020 initiative

Contact: Jean Patterson

Objective: This initiative will establish a coordinated network of Emerging Infectious Diseases Research Centers in regions around the globe where emerging and re-emerging infectious disease outbreaks are likely to occur. Multidisciplinary teams of investigators will study pathogen/host surveillance and prevalence, pathogen transmission, and pathogenesis and immunologic responses in the host, and develop reagents and diagnostic assays for improved detection of important emerging pathogens and their vectors.

Description: The overall objective of this initiative is to develop a coordinated network of Emerging Infectious Diseases Research Centers that will bring together multidisciplinary teams of U.S.-based and international researchers to conduct integrated research that will help formulate coordinated strategies for detecting, controlling, and preventing emergence or re-emergence of infectious diseases. Research areas include pathogen discovery; disease surveillance in animal reservoirs, vectors, and humans; characterization of pathogens, including strain variation across communities and geographic regions; evaluation of factors related to transmission, emergence, and adaptation to new hosts; natural history of infection; clinical disease in humans; immunologic responses to the infection; and development of reagents, diagnostic tests, and critical animal models.

This network will also be composed of a separate Coordination Center tasked with facilitating collaboration among the Centers, such as organizing network meetings; harmonizing data management; collecting and storing samples; and sharing of reagents, diagnostics, and resources. The Centers will be designed to have the flexibility to study any emerging pathogen. The initial focus, however, will be on infectious pathogens that are most likely to emerge/re-emerge that are not already studied by other NIAID-funded networks and for which adequate countermeasures have not been developed. Importantly, each Center should have the capacity and flexibility to respond to new outbreaks as directed by NIAID.

Each Center will:

  1. Focus on pathogens (and their vectors) that are likely to emerge or re-emerge in major geographical areas of interest including South and Central America, Southeast Asia, or West/Central Africa and have relevant scientific expertise working in at least two of these areas
  2. Incorporate a U.S.-based investigator and have one or more foreign collaborators
  3. Provide plans for adding new sites and expanding scientific areas of research when needed for responding to an outbreak or newly emerging infectious disease
  4. Develop and implement a plan for isolating, characterizing, developing, and sharing pathogen isolates, reagents, and clinical and animal research specimens
  5. Leverage existing infrastructure funded by U.S. government agencies or other international research funders (e.g., Wellcome Trust, Gates Foundation, Institut Pasteur)
  6. Support clinical and field studies research (e.g., natural history, diagnostic development and assessment, and host immunity important in controlling infection)
  7. Develop and assess reagents, tools, and assays for detection and diagnostics as well as animal models, when appropriate
  8. Coordinate and collaborate with the affiliated Coordination Center and NIAID to share information, data, samples, and diagnostic reagents and tools in a timely fashion
  9. Re-direct research projects and resources as needed to respond to outbreaks as directed by NIAID
  10. Manage a pilot project research program to develop expertise among junior investigators and in-country scientists on a variety of emerging infectious diseases

Emerging Infectious Diseases Research Centers Coordination Center

Request for Applications—proposed FY 2020 initiative

Contact: Jean Patterson

Objective: This initiative will establish a Coordination Center for a network of Emerging Infectious Diseases Research Centers conducting research in regions around the globe where emerging and re-emerging infectious disease outbreaks are likely to occur. The Emerging Infectious Diseases Research Centers Coordination Center will oversee and coordinate select aspects of each Center’s research project(s) involving data management; collecting and storing samples; and sharing of reagents, diagnostics, and resources, and ensure collaboration among and between the Centers.

Description: This initiative will establish a Coordination Center that will facilitate collaboration among the Emerging Infectious Diseases Research Centers established under a companion initiative and support data management, sample tracking, and sharing of reagents, diagnostics, and resources. The Coordination Center will also help coordinate pilot projects to advance emerging scientific needs. As background, the Emerging Infectious Diseases Research Centers initiative will bring together multidisciplinary teams of U.S.-based and international researchers to conduct integrated research that will help formulate coordinated strategies for detecting, controlling, and preventing emergence or re-emergence of infectious diseases. Research areas include pathogen discovery; surveillance in humans, animal reservoirs, and vectors as it relates to assessing the prevalence of specific pathogens in their geographic regions; evaluation of factors related to transmission, emergence, and adaptation to new hosts; natural history of infection; clinical disease in humans; immunologic responses to the infection; and development of reagents, new diagnostic methods for improved detection of infectious agents, and development of critical animal models.

Targeted Prevention for Tick-Borne Diseases

Request for Applications—proposed FY 2020 initiative

Contact: Maliha Ilias

Objective: This initiative will support prevention approaches for Lyme and other tick-borne diseases.

Description: This initiative will support prevention approaches for Lyme and other tick-borne diseases, including:

  • Identifying and testing antigens for human vaccines against multiple tick-borne pathogens
  • Modifying/improving advanced vaccine candidates
  • “Anti-tick” vaccines to elicit protective immune responses against tick salivary antigens
  • Reservoir-targeted vaccines to block sylvatic transmission
  • Other reservoir-targeted approaches to interrupt the natural history of infection
  • Transgenic and paratransgenic approaches in ticks to interrupt tick-borne pathogen uptake, colonization, or transmission in disease vectors and reservoirs

This initiative will not support applications on acaricide development or other methods of tick elimination or control, or projects on reservoir removal or elimination.

This initiative will not support epidemiologic or surveillance studies unless they are part of a broader application that includes aims developing a targeted intervention as described above.

Advancing Development of Rapid Fungal Diagnostics

Program Announcement—proposed FY 2020 initiative

Contact: Dona Love

Objective: To support developing rapid, sensitive, specific, simple, and cost-effective diagnostics for primary health-care settings (hospitals and point-of-care).

Description: This funding opportunity announcement (FOA) will support diagnostics research activities, including efforts to: 1) identify biomarkers of invasive fungal disease and/or determine antifungal susceptibility, 2) develop an assay to reliably demonstrate the presence or absence of novel biomarkers or determine drug sensitivities, 3) explore and assess strategies for optimizing sample type and/or sample volume, and develop or improve concentration or enrichment methods to support overall assay development in any novel diagnostic schema, and 4) apply technological/methodological advancement strategies in both target identification and assay development, which may include approaches designed to substantially improve existing methods. Diagnostic approaches that detect one or more fungal pathogens and provide results more rapidly than current culture-dependent methods are strongly encouraged.

For the purposes of this FOA, the following diagnostic performance parameters are of greatest importance:

  • Rapid: Ideal diagnostic test time of approximately 20 minutes to 2 hours for identifying species and determining susceptibility profiles, which includes the time-required to process the clinical sample (if appropriate) through detection and delivery of the final test result
  • Sensitive: Sensitivity should be equivalent to or exceed current FDA-cleared standards for proposed targets from the same sample type
  • Specific: Specificity should be equivalent to or exceed current FDA-cleared standards for proposed targets from the same sample type
  • Easy to use: Integrated, closed sample-to-answer system with automated data analyses and/or result presentation and with minimal operator training and expertise required, e.g., a lateral flow assay device
  • Cost-effective: Projected production and operating costs should be consistent with commonly used platforms for detecting infectious disease-causing pathogens

Where appropriate, enable multiplexed differential detection of multiple pathogens.

It is possible that a single target either from the pathogen or induced via the host’s response will be insufficient to provide the required sensitivity and specific early diagnostic capabilities. Identifying multiple targets and developing a multiplex assay(s) may be required to distinguish between a fungal pathogen only colonizing a host versus causing active disease, as well as identifying the infectious agent.

Novel Approaches To Understand, Prevent, Treat, and Diagnose Coccidioidomycosis (Valley Fever) and Other Select Endemic Fungal Infections

Program Announcement—proposed FY 2020 initiative

Contact: Dona Love

Objective: To support research activities that will contribute to the overall understanding of coccidioidomycosis, commonly known as Valley Fever, and other select endemic fungal diseases, including histoplasmosis and blastomycosis. This research opportunity encourages studies that address diverse scientific areas, such as 1) pathogenesis, 2) host response, 3) disease transmission, 4) natural history and environmental factors contributing to disease, 5) vaccines, 6) diagnostics, and 7) therapeutics with the ultimate goal of advancing the field towards solutions for the improved detection, prevention, and treatment of select endemic mycoses.

Description: Specific areas of research interest are focused on coccidioidomycosis, histoplasmosis, and blastomycosis and include but are not limited to:

  • Improve understanding of biology, transmission, and pathogenesis of infection:
    • Improve understanding of pathogenesis
    • Expand understanding of the pathogen life cycle, including the role of climate and geography, host factors, and physical and environmental factors that contribute to disease
    • Improve genotypic and phenotypic characterization associated with adverse clinical outcomes, and host immunity
    • Expand understanding of speciation and impact on clinical outcome
  • Identify/characterize host responses required for protection:
    • Determine the interaction of innate and adaptive immunity in response to infection
    • Identify immune markers associated with reduced disease severity
    • Elucidate mechanisms of protective immunity versus those that ameliorate symptomatic disease
  • Support rational design of Coccidioides and other select endemic fungal pathogen vaccines:
    • Identify immunogens that elicit broad protection
    • Advance new vaccine approaches into preclinical models that exploit emerging antigen design strategies, novel technologies, and/or platforms
    • Define mechanisms and correlates of vaccine-induced protection
    • Test adjuvants and alternative delivery methods to enhance breadth and durability of immunity
  • Develop novel therapeutics to clear infection
  • Identify biomarkers that could inform disease progression and contribute to rapid diagnostics
Content last reviewed on October 3, 2018