Advance Universal Flu Vaccine Research Through New Initiative

Funding News Edition: January 19, 2022
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As outlined in “A Universal Influenza Vaccine: The Strategic Plan for the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases,” vaccines are the greatest public health protection against influenza illness and disease, but the effectiveness of seasonal influenza vaccines remains suboptimal for a variety of reasons. Circulating viral strains are difficult to predict and can potentially lead to vaccine mismatches that lower overall effectiveness.

NIAID’s Notice of Special Interest (NOSI)—Advancing Research Needed To Develop a Universal Influenza Vaccine aims to foster new and innovative scientific studies in areas defined in the Strategic Plan to produce vaccines with broader, more durable protection to limit the public health consequences of both seasonal and pandemic influenza. Apply if your research will advance our pursuit of a universal influenza vaccine.

Research Objectives and Scope

Proposed research should have clear relevance to the research interests defined in the Strategic Plan, which include, but are not limited to:

  • Improve understanding of influenza transmission, natural history, and pathogenesis:
    • Expand understanding of influenza transmission, including geographic regions, host factors, physical and environmental factors, and identify targets for improving interventions for disease control
    • Determine the role of anti-hemagglutinin stem and anti-neuraminidase antibodies in prevention of transmission
    • Identify viral and host factors associated with transmission and the severity of influenza
    • Develop the capability to characterize circulating influenza virus strains rapidly and accurately
    • Determine the role of bacterial or viral co-infections with the severity of influenza disease
    • Precisely characterize circulating influenza viruses
    • Develop and test models predicting the influence of pre-existing immunity on virus evolution to anticipate the next emerging dominant seasonal influenza strain
    • Improve genotypic and phenotypic characterization of circulating viruses associated with adverse clinical outcomes, host immunity, and vaccine failures
  • Identify/characterize immune responses required for protection:
    • Improve understanding of how and when exposure to influenza antigens shape the subsequent immune response to influenza virus infection and vaccination
    • Characterize immune responses in those with a limited hemagglutination inhibition (HAI) response to influenza infection or vaccination
    • Determine the interaction of innate and adaptive immunity in the response to influenza infection or vaccination
    • Define the mechanism of broadly protective humoral immunity against influenza, including processes that affect antigenic immunodominance
    • Elucidate mechanisms of protective immunity versus those that ameliorate symptomatic disease
    • Assess tissue-resident (e.g., airway) influenza-specific T cell immunity; compare with circulating influenza-specific T cell responses
    • Elucidate antibody responses to hemagglutinin and neuraminidase and their contribution to immune protection
    • Identify alternative mechanisms of antibody-dependent protection beyond virus neutralization/HAI function
  • Support rational design of universal influenza vaccines:
    • Design new immunogens that elicit broad protection
    • Advance new vaccine approaches into preclinical models that exploit emerging antigen design strategies, novel technologies, or platforms
    • Define mechanisms and correlates of vaccine-induced protection
    • Identify vaccine candidate(s) that provide broad protection, superior to the seasonal influenza vaccine, and advance candidates to next phase of testing
    • Test adjuvants and alternative delivery methods to analyze diverse and multi-scale influenza infection and vaccination data sets
    • Develop/improve animal models and reagents to advance vaccine development

Application and Submission Information

This notice is effective for applications with intended due dates on or after February 5, 2022, and subsequent receipt dates through January 7, 2025.

Submit applications for this initiative using one of the following funding opportunity announcements (FOAs) or any reissues of these announcements through the expiration date of this notice: 

Applicants must follow all instructions in the SF 424 (R&R) Application Guide and the chosen FOA, with the following addition:

For funding consideration, applicants must include “NOT-AI-22-013” (without quotation marks) in the Agency Routing Identifier field (box 4B) of the SF 424 (R&R) Form. Applications without this information in box 4B will not be considered for this initiative.

Contact Information

Direct all inquiries to NIAID’s scientific/research contacts: Dr. Jennifer L. Gordon at 301-761-6805 or jennifer.gordon2@nih.gov and Dr. Kentner Singleton at 240-669-5499 or kentner.Singleton@nih.gov.

Contact Us

Email us at deaweb@niaid.nih.gov for help navigating NIAID’s grant and contract policies and procedures.

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