Global Research in India
For over 30 years, NIAID has supported research and training projects in India focusing on HIV/AIDS, tuberculosis, filariasis, leishmaniasis, and other viral, bacterial, and parasitic diseases, emerging/re-emerging infectious diseases and more recently, SARS-CoV-2. A summary of select NIAID-supported research in India is described below.
- A long-standing keystone in the U.S.-India health relationship has been the Indo-U.S. Vaccine Action Program (VAP), established in 1987. The partnership involves NIAID, India’s Department of Biotechnology (DBT), and the Indian Council of Medical Research (ICMR). VAP fosters development and testing of safe, cost-effective interventions including vaccines against a range of infectious diseases.
- Implemented in 2013 under VAP, the Regional Prospective Observational Research in Tuberculosis (TB) in India (RePORT India) is a bilaterally funded, multiorganizational, collaborative effort that supports in-country data collection, specimen biorepositories, and associated research. RePORT India is a seminal member of RePORT International which consists of multiple regional RePORT consortia to encourage coordinated, global TB prevention, and treatment research. RePORT India supports basic, translational, and clinical TB and TB/HIV research at nine sites in India and is an active participant of RePORT International cross-consortia studies.
- The Adjuvant Discovery and Development Program, implemented in India in 2019 as a joint collaboration between NIAID and DBT, supports local capacity building in the field of adjuvants, substances that increase the effectiveness of vaccines. The COVAXIN vaccine against SARS-CoV-2, developed by Bharat Biotech International Ltd., is formulated with an adjuvant (Alhydroxiquim-II) that was developed with support from NIAID’s adjuvant program.
- Initiated in 2010, the Indo-U.S. Bilateral Collaborative Research Grants on Human Phenotyping and Infectious Diseases promotes collaborative research between Indian and U.S. based Human Immunology Project Consortium investigators to conduct human phenotyping in the context of infectious diseases or vaccines of public health importance to both the United States and India. The initiative has resulted in many successful technology transfers from the United States to Indian laboratories and has helped develop a seminal understanding of the human immunology around key diseases like rotavirus, dengue, chikungunya, TB, and influenza.
- The bioethics collaboration, which was established under VAP in 2019 between the NIH Clinical Center’s Department of Bioethics and DBT’s National Biopharma Mission, supports strengthening of clinical research ethics capacity in India.
- Under a bilateral agreement with the Indian ICMR, NIAID designated the National Institute for Research in Tuberculosis (NIRT) Chennai as an International Center for Excellence in Research (ICER). The ICER focuses on emerging/re-emerging infectious diseases and strives to develop a sustainable research program in emerging infectious diseases and TB through partnership between scientists and physicians.
- Under the provisions of a joint statement signed between the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and the Ministry of Health and Family Welfare of India, NIAID and other NIH institutes and centers have collaborated with the ICMR on prevention of sexually transmitted diseases and HIV/AIDS. The program emphasizes training, mentorship, and engagement between Indian and U.S. investigators. A number of collaborative research projects have been established under this program.
- ICMR and NIAID, with support from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, have established a clinical research fellowship opportunity that enables clinicians in India and the United States to conduct research in areas of infectious diseases and immunology at an exchange laboratory and other approved research facilities.
- NIAID and ICMR collaborate on Nipah virus research, focused on prevention and therapeutic intervention protocols using a monoclonal antibody developed with NIAID’s support. NIAID has also collaborated with ICMR in validating the point-of-care diagnostics for Nipah virus infection.
- ICMR’s Regional Medical Research Center in Assam, National Institute of Research in Tribal Health and National Institute of Malaria Research in Delhi are grantees under NIAID’s International Centers of Excellence for Malaria Research (ICEMR) program, a global network of independent research centers in malaria-endemic settings, established to provide knowledge, tools and evidence-based strategies for malaria control and prevention. Two major ICEMR projects in India include Malaria Evolution in South Asia and Center for Study of Complex Malaria in India.