Department of Health and Human Services

Part 1. Overview Information

Participating Organization(s)

National Institutes of Health (NIH)

Components of Participating Organizations

National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

Funding Opportunity Title

Targeting Persistent HIV Reservoirs (TaPHIR) (R21/R33)

Activity Code

R21/R33 Phased Innovation Award

Announcement Type

Reissue of PAR-12-109

Related Notices

  • NOT-OD-16-004 - NIH & AHRQ Announce Upcoming Changes to Policies, Instructions and Forms for 2016 Grant Applications (November 18, 2015)
  • NOT-OD-16-006 - Simplification of the Vertebrate Animals Section of NIH Grant Applications and Contract Proposals (November 18, 2015)
  • NOT-OD-16-011 - Implementing Rigor and Transparency in NIH & AHRQ Research Grant Applications (November 18, 2015)

Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) Number

PAR-15-041

Companion Funding Opportunity

None

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance (CFDA) Number(s)

93.855, 93.856, 93.242

Funding Opportunity Purpose

The purpose of this Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) is to stimulate the development of innovative tools and strategies for curing HIV infection. HIV establishes latent infection in long-lived cells that form a reservoir of virus that persists in infected individuals even after years of treatment with highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART). Curing HIV infection requires innovative strategies to identify and eliminate these reservoir cells. The task is especially difficult given the lack of HIV protein expression during latency and the low frequency of latently infected cells during treatment. Novel approaches are therefore sought to efficiently monitor and specifically target reservoirs of latently infected cells to facilitate the testing of strategies to cure HIV infection in vivo.

Key Dates

Posted Date

Open Date (Earliest Submission Date)

Letter of Intent Due Date(s)

Not Applicable

Application Due Date(s)

, , April 7, 2017, by 5:00 PM local time of applicant organization. All types of non-AIDS applications allowed for this funding opportunity announcement are due on these dates.

Applicants are encouraged to apply early to allow adequate time to make any corrections to errors found in the application during the submission process by the due date.

AIDS Application Due Date(s)

April 7, 2015, April 7, 2016, April 7, 2017, by 5:00 PM local time of applicant organization. All types of AIDS and AIDS-related applications allowed for this funding opportunity announcement are due on these dates.

Applicants are encouraged to apply early to allow adequate time to make any corrections to errors found in the application during the submission process by the due date.

Scientific Merit Review

July 2015; July 2016; July 2017

Advisory Council Review

; ;

Earliest Start Date

; ;

Expiration Date

Due Dates for E.O. 12372

Not Applicable

Required Application Instructions

It is critical that applicants follow the instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, except where instructed to do otherwise (in this FOA or in a Notice from the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts). Conformance to all requirements (both in the Application Guide and the FOA) is required and strictly enforced. Applicants must read and follow all application instructions in the Application Guide as well as any program-specific instructions noted in Section IV. When the program-specific instructions deviate from those in the Application Guide, follow the program-specific instructions. Applications that do not comply with these instructions may be delayed or not accepted for review.

There are several options to submit your application to the agency through Grants.gov. You can use the ASSIST system to prepare, submit and track your application online. You can download an application package from Grants.gov, complete the forms offline, submit the completed forms to Grants.gov and track your application in eRA Commons. Or, you can use other institutional system-to-system solutions to prepare and submit your application to Grants.gov and track your application in eRA Commons. Learn more.

Problems accessing or using ASSIST should be directed to the eRA Service Desk.
Problems downloading forms should be directed to Grants.gov Customer Support.

Table of Contents

  1. Part 1. Overview Information
  2. Part 2. Full Text of the Announcement
    1. Section I. Funding Opportunity Description
    2. Section II. Award Information
    3. Section III. Eligibility Information
    4. Section IV. Application and Submission Information
    5. Section V. Application Review Information
    6. Section VI. Award Administration Information
    7. Section VII. Agency Contacts
    8. Section VIII. Other Information

Part 2. Full Text of Announcement

Section I. Funding Opportunity Description

Background

The development of highly active antiretroviral therapy (HAART) has resulted in long-term suppression of HIV replication in infected individuals to levels below the limit of detection using standard diagnostic assays. However, it has become clear that these regimens alone are insufficient to cure HIV positive individuals of their infection. Even in individuals whose levels of virus remain optimally suppressed for several years, HIV is able to recover to high levels once HAART is stopped. Identifying a strategy to cure HIV infection or effect a functional cure (in which viral levels are suppressed to very low levels in the absence of continuous therapy) is one of the highest priorities of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH).

One particularly long-lived reservoir of virus resides in resting CD4+ memory T cells. HIV provirus has been shown to persist for years in these cells in a latent state until the cells become activated and once again begin releasing replication-competent virus. Ridding the body of latently infected cells is thus a critical hurdle in the effort to cure HIV infection. Innovative approaches to specifically target and eradicate these persistent reservoirs are needed in order to translate our understanding of HIV persistence and latency from basic research into viable eradication strategies that can be tested in vivo.

Purpose

This FOA provides funding for high-risk, technology-driven research to address the following three critical gaps in efforts to develop and test viable strategies for eradicating HIV from the individual:

  1. Development of methods for isolating, quantifying, and characterizing rare reservoir cells

    In HIV-positive individuals on HAART, only about one in a million resting CD4+ T cells contain latent proviruses capable of producing replication-competent virus. Isolating, quantifying and characterizing these cells are labor-intensive and expensive. New, sensitive high-throughput or single-cell analysis methods are needed to alleviate these rate-limiting steps and to facilitate in vivo proof-of-concept studies. Assays that specifically identify cells containing replication-competent virus are of greatest need.

  2. Identification of markers of latency or specific re-activators of HIV gene expression that would permit targeting of reservoir cells

    Since latently infected cells do not express detectable levels of HIV proteins, it is difficult to distinguish them from uninfected cells. Identification of specific markers associated with latency in primary cells to enable these cells to be depleted or selectively targeted with therapeutics is an area of particular interest for this FOA. An alternative approach would be to specifically reactivate HIV gene expression, thus allowing targeting and elimination of the cells via recognition of HIV proteins. However, in employing this approach, care must be taken not to affect normal cellular processes in bystander cells which could lead to toxicity.

  3. Testing of strategies to eliminate or inactivate reservoir cells

    Previous studies using the so-called “shock and kill” approach have depended on the ability of the virus itself or the host immune response to kill infected cells following reactivation. Yet evidence suggests that these processes alone may not be sufficient. Innovative strategies to directly target reservoir cells with lethal agents or to facilitate recognition by the immune system are therefore needed. Alternatively, permanent inactivation of integrated provirus so that infectious virus can no longer be released is another potential strategy. For such approaches, efficient and selective in vivo delivery of therapeutics to the reservoir cells will be critical.

Phased Innovation Awards

Applicants must plan for both a R21 and a R33 phase in their application. Applications should propose milestone-driven exploratory/feasibility studies for the initial R21 phase and describe how the concept will be further developed in proof-of-concept studies during the R33 phase. The project should have clearly defined, quantifiable milestones as well as a timeline or Gantt chart to delineate the projects and milestones that make up the R21 and R33 phases.

Research Objectives and Scope

The goal of this FOA is to develop innovative tools and methods to facilitate the testing of viable HIV eradication strategies in vivo. Projects should include novel approaches for monitoring or specifically targeting reservoir cells harboring integrated HIV provirus in the context of optimized HAART.

Specifically, applicants should address one or more of the following six research objectives:

  • Define the basic cellular and molecular mechanisms of HIV latency and persistence.
  • Develop innovative methods to image, isolate, quantify, or characterize individual HIV-infected reservoir cells. Assays that specifically identify cells capable of producing infectious virus are of particular interest.
  • Identify means for specifically re-activating HIV gene expression in latently infected cells in vivo without affecting uninfected bystander cells. Approaches should offer significant improvement in specificity or potency over previously studied activators, such as protein kinase C (PKC) activators and Histone deacetylase (HDAC) inhibitors. Agents that mimic the function of the HIV Tat protein are of particular interest.
  • Identify unique biomarkers or signatures associated with latently HIV-infected primary cells in vivo. Such markers should enable targeting of latently infected cells without the need to reactivate HIV gene expression. Proof-of-concept studies on the effect(s) of depleting specific cell subsets identified as harboring latent or persistent HIV in vivo also are of high interest.
  • Design approaches to specifically and efficiently target and eliminate latently HIV-infected cells in vivo. Elimination could be achieved via direct killing (e.g., using a therapeutic), by targeted removal or depletion, or by indirectly priming, facilitating, or directing a specific immune response (e.g. tagging cells for clearance by the immune system or stimulating an HIV-specific immune response).
  • Design specific and efficient approaches to inactivate integrated HIV provirus in latently infected reservoir cells in vivo. The inactivation strategy should be permanent or should at least provide significant benefit over daily HAART (e.g. requiring no more than weekly self-administration or monthly clinical intervention).

In all cases, studies should be focused only on reservoirs that have been demonstrated to persist in the context of optimally suppressive HAART.

Proof-of-concept studies for the R33 phase may include, for example:

  • validation experiments with larger numbers of samples,
  • a transition from in vitro models to ex vivo studies using clinical samples,
  • expansion of samples to include tissue samples,
  • in vivo testing of approaches in humanized mice or small pilot studies in non-human primates.

Studies that plan to utilize a non-human primate model for in vivo proof-of-concept should substitute SIV or SHIV viruses in place of HIV where applicable. While studies involving transformed cell line models for latency may be permissible for some initial studies (e.g. high-throughput screening or assay validation), it is imperative that subsequent studies be performed using primary cells. Latently infected reservoir cells from HIV-positive individuals on optimized HAART should be used for validation studies whenever possible.

Applicants should take into consideration the extreme heterogeneity of HIV in proposing how their approach may eventually be applied in the clinical setting.

Recognizing that complete eradication of HIV from the infected individual is a complex challenge, applications will be supported that propose innovative combinations of multiple therapeutic approaches, provided that the effectiveness of each component of such combinations can be readily discerned in vivo.

Note: NIMH is interested in applications that propose assays or novel therapeutic strategies for targeting HIV-1 latency/persistence in various cell populations of the central nervous system.

Note: Applications proposing Clinical Trials will not be supported by this FOA.

Section II. Award Information

Funding Instrument

Grant: A support mechanism providing money, property, or both to an eligible entity to carry out an approved project or activity.

Application Types Allowed

New

Resubmission

The OER Glossary and the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide provide details on these application types.

Funds Available and Anticipated Number of Awards

The number of awards is contingent upon NIH appropriations and the submission of a sufficient number of meritorious applications.

Award Budget

Support for the R21 is limited to $275,000 in direct costs over the R21 two-year period, with a maximum of $200,000 in direct costs allowed in any single year. The R33 award phase is limited to $300,000 in direct costs per year. The NIAID anticipates that a maximum of fifty percent (50%) of the funded R21 phase awards will progress to the R33 award.

Award Project Period

The total project period cannot exceed five years, with no more than 2 years in the R21 phase and 3 years in the R33 phase.

NIH grants policies as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement will apply to the applications submitted and awards made in response to this FOA.

Section III. Eligibility Information

1. Eligible Applicants

Eligible Organizations

Higher Education Institutions

  • Public/State Controlled Institutions of Higher Education
  • Private Institutions of Higher Education

The following types of Higher Education Institutions are always encouraged to apply for NIH support as Public or Private Institutions of Higher Education:

  • Hispanic-serving Institutions
  • Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs)
  • Tribally Controlled Colleges and Universities (TCCUs)
  • Alaska Native and Native Hawaiian Serving Institutions
  • Asian American Native American Pacific Islander Serving Institutions (AANAPISIs)

Nonprofits Other Than Institutions of Higher Education

  • Nonprofits with 501(c)(3) IRS Status (Other than Institutions of Higher Education)
  • Nonprofits without 501(c)(3) IRS Status (Other than Institutions of Higher Education)

For-Profit Organizations

  • Small Businesses
  • For-Profit Organizations (Other than Small Businesses)

Governments

  • State Governments
  • County Governments
  • City or Township Governments
  • Special District Governments
  • Indian/Native American Tribal Governments (Federally Recognized)
  • Indian/Native American Tribal Governments (Other than Federally Recognized)
  • Eligible Agencies of the Federal Government
  • U.S. Territory or Possession

Other

  • Independent School Districts
  • Public Housing Authorities/Indian Housing Authorities
  • Native American Tribal Organizations (other than Federally recognized tribal governments)
  • Faith-based or Community-based Organizations
  • Regional Organizations
  • Non-domestic (non-U.S.) Entities (Foreign Institutions)

Foreign Institutions

Non-domestic (non-U.S.) Entities (Foreign Institutions) are eligible to apply.

Non-domestic (non-U.S.) components of U.S. Organizations are eligible to apply.

Foreign components, as defined in the NIH Grants Policy Statement, are allowed.

Required Registrations

Applicant Organizations

Applicant organizations must complete and maintain the following registrations as described in the SF 424 (R&R) Application Guide to be eligible to apply for or receive an award. All registrations must be completed prior to the application being submitted. Registration can take 6 weeks or more, so applicants should begin the registration process as soon as possible. The NIH Policy on Late Submission of Grant Applications states that failure to complete registrations in advance of a due date is not a valid reason for a late submission.

  • Dun and Bradstreet Universal Numbering System (DUNS) - All registrations require that applicants be issued a DUNS number. After obtaining a DUNS number, applicants can begin both SAM and eRA Commons registrations. The same DUNS number must be used for all registrations, as well as on the grant application.
  • System for Award Management (SAM) (formerly CCR) – Applicants must complete and maintain an active registration, which requires renewal at least annually. The renewal process may require as much time as the initial registration. SAM registration includes the assignment of a Commercial and Government Entity (CAGE) Code for domestic organizations which have not already been assigned a CAGE Code.
  • eRA Commons - Applicants must have an active DUNS number and SAM registration in order to complete the eRA Commons registration. Organizations can register with the eRA Commons as they are working through their SAM or Grants.gov registration. eRA Commons requires organizations to identify at least one Signing Official (SO) and at least one Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) account in order to submit an application.
  • Grants.gov – Applicants must have an active DUNS number and SAM registration in order to complete the Grants.gov registration.

Program Directors/Principal Investigators (PD(s)/PI(s))

All PD(s)/PI(s) must have an eRA Commons account. PD(s)/PI(s) should work with their organizational officials to either create a new account or to affiliate their existing account with the applicant organization in eRA Commons. If the PD/PI is also the organizational Signing Official, they must have two distinct eRA Commons accounts, one for each role. Obtaining an eRA Commons account can take up to 2 weeks.

Eligible Individuals (Program Director/Principal Investigator)

Any individual(s) with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research as the Program Director(s)/Principal Investigator(s) (PD(s)/PI(s)) is invited to work with his/her organization to develop an application for support. Individuals from underrepresented racial and ethnic groups as well as individuals with disabilities are always encouraged to apply for NIH support.

For institutions/organizations proposing multiple PDs/PIs, visit the Multiple Program Director/Principal Investigator Policy and submission details in the Senior/Key Person Profile (Expanded) Component of the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

2. Cost Sharing

This FOA does not require cost sharing as defined in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

3. Additional Information on Eligibility

Number of Applications

Applicant organizations may submit more than one application, provided that each application is scientifically distinct.

The NIH will not accept duplicate or highly overlapping applications under review at the same time. This means that the NIH will not accept:

  • A new (A0) application that is submitted before issuance of the summary statement from the review of an overlapping new (A0) or resubmission (A1) application.
  • A resubmission (A1) application that is submitted before issuance of the summary statement from the review of the previous new (A0) application.
  • An application that has substantial overlap with another application pending appeal of initial peer review (see NOT-OD-11-101).

In addition, the NIH will not accept a resubmission (A1) application that is submitted later than 37 months after submission of the new (A0) application that it follows. The NIH will accept submission:

  • To an RFA of an application that was submitted previously as an investigator-initiated application but not paid;
  • Of an investigator-initiated application that was originally submitted to an RFA but not paid; or
  • Of an application with a changed grant activity code.

Section IV. Application and Submission Information

1. Requesting an Application Package

Applicants must download the SF424 (R&R) application package associated with this funding opportunity using the “Apply for Grant Electronically” button in this FOA or following the directions provided at Grants.gov.

2. Content and Form of Application Submission

It is critical that applicants follow the instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, including Supplemental Grant Application Instructions except where instructed in this funding opportunity announcement to do otherwise. Conformance to the requirements in the Application Guide is required and strictly enforced. Applications that are out of compliance with these instructions may be delayed or not accepted for review.

For information on Application Submission and Receipt, visit Frequently Asked Questions – Application Guide, Electronic Submission of Grant Applications.

Page Limitations

All page limitations described in the SF424 Application Guide and the Table of Page Limits must be followed.

Instructions for Application Submission

The following section supplements the instructions found in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide and should be used for preparing an application to this FOA.

SF424(R&R) Cover

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.

SF424(R&R) Project/Performance Site Locations

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.

SF424(R&R) Other Project Information

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.

SF424(R&R) Senior/Key Person Profile

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.

R&R Budget

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.

Applicants should submit a single budget for both the R21 and R33 phases of the application. For each budget year provide a justification indicating whether costs are for the R21 or R33 phase.

R&R Subaward Budget

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.

PHS 398 Cover Page Supplement

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed.

PHS 398 Research Plan

All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide must be followed, with the following additional instructions:

Specific Aims: Applicants must provide Specific Aims that include both the R21 and R33 phases.

Research Strategy: Applicants must:

  • discuss how the proposed strategy directly addresses the problem of eradicating latent HIV infection,
  • discuss if the proposed approach has been applied previously to the problem of HIV persistence and latency,
  • discuss how the approach will demonstrate definitive proof-of-concept for the proposed strategy or provide sufficient evidence to rule out the proposed strategy,
  • indicate access to an appropriate model of HIV latency,
  • indicate access to drugs required for effective HAART in the model system (if appropriate).

Applications for developing new assays must clearly outline improvements over existing methods in terms of throughput, sample size, sensitivity, precision, accuracy, turnaround time, or cost.

Applications proposing a targeted therapeutic strategy must address how the approach would be efficiently delivered to reservoir cells in vivo or ex vivo without causing off-target effects and without being cleared by the immune system. These applications should also address how durable viral suppression would be sustained without the need for frequent or impractical repeated therapeutic administration or continued daily HAART.

Milestones: The project should have milestones that are appropriate, quantifiable, and achievable within the allotted timeframe.

Note: Although preliminary data are not required for R21/R33 applications, they may be included if they support or justify the proposed hypothesis, rationale, or development.

Note: Prior to the end of the second year, awardees will submit the R33 transition package, which includes the R21 progress report, which describes progress towards the initial milestones, and a clear description of how research during the R33 phase will be impacted by attainment of the R21 milestones.

Letters of Support: Letters of support should be provided for critical reagents, resources, or collaborations.

Resource Sharing Plan: Individuals are required to comply with the instructions for the Resource Sharing Plans as provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide, with the following modification:

  • All applications submitted for the January 25, 2015 due date or after are expected to comply with the NIH Genomic Data Sharing Policy as detailed in NOT-OD-14-111, as applicable.
  • All applications, regardless of the amount of direct costs requested for any one year, should address a Data Sharing Plan.

Appendix: Do not use the Appendix to circumvent page limits. Follow all instructions for the Appendix as described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

Planned Enrollment Report

When conducting clinical research, follow all instructions for completing Planned Enrollment Reports as described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

PHS 398 Cumulative Inclusion Enrollment Report

When conducting clinical research, follow all instructions for completing Cumulative Inclusion Enrollment Report as described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

Foreign Institutions

Foreign (non-U.S.) institutions must follow policies described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement, and procedures for foreign institutions described throughout the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

3. Submission Dates and Times

Part I. Overview Information contains information about Key Dates. Applicants are encouraged to submit applications before the due date to ensure they have time to make any application corrections that might be necessary for successful submission.

Organizations must submit applications to Grants.gov (the online portal to find and apply for grants across all Federal agencies). Applicants must then complete the submission process by tracking the status of the application in the eRA Commons, NIH’s electronic system for grants administration. NIH and Grants.gov systems check the application against many of the application instructions upon submission. Errors must be corrected and a changed/corrected application must be submitted to Grants.gov on or before the application due date. If a Changed/Corrected application is submitted after the deadline, the application will be considered late.

Applicants are responsible for viewing their application before the due date in the eRA Commons to ensure accurate and successful submission.

Information on the submission process and a definition of on-time submission are provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

4. Intergovernmental Review (E.O. 12372)

This initiative is not subject to intergovernmental review.

5. Funding Restrictions

All NIH awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Pre-award costs are allowable only as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

6. Other Submission Requirements and Information

Applications must be submitted electronically following the instructions described in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide. Paper applications will not be accepted.

Applicants must complete all required registrations before the application due date. Section III. Eligibility Information contains information about registration.

For assistance with your electronic application or for more information on the electronic submission process, visit Applying Electronically. If you encounter a system issue beyond your control that threatens your ability to complete the submission process on-time, you must follow the Guidelines for Applicants Experiencing System Issues.

Important reminders:

All PD(s)/PI(s) must include their eRA Commons ID in the Credential field of the Senior/Key Person Profile Component of the SF424(R&R) Application Package. Failure to register in the Commons and to include a valid PD/PI Commons ID in the credential field will prevent the successful submission of an electronic application to NIH. See Section III of this FOA for information on registration requirements.

The applicant organization must ensure that the DUNS number it provides on the application is the same number used in the organization’s profile in the eRA Commons and for the System for Award Management. Additional information may be found in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

See more tips for avoiding common errors.

Upon receipt, applications will be evaluated for completeness and compliance with application instructions by the Center for Scientific Review, NIH. Applications that are incomplete or non-compliant will not be reviewed.

Post Submission Materials

Applicants are required to follow the instructions for post-submission materials, as described in NOT-OD-13-030.

Section V. Application Review Information

Important Update: See NOT-OD-16-006 and NOT-OD-16-011 for updated review language for applications for due dates on or after January 25, 2016.

1. Criteria

Only the review criteria described below will be considered in the review process. As part of the NIH mission, all applications submitted to the NIH in support of biomedical and behavioral research are evaluated for scientific and technical merit through the NIH peer review system.

For this particular announcement, note the following:

The R21/R33 phased innovation grant supports investigation of novel scientific ideas or new interventions, model systems, tools, or technologies that have the potential for significant impact on biomedical or behavioral and social sciences research. An R21/R33 grant application need not have preliminary data, extensive background material or preliminary information; however, they may be included if available. Appropriate justification for the proposed work can be provided through literature citations, data from other sources, or, when available, from investigator-generated data. Accordingly, reviewers will focus their evaluation on the conceptual framework, the level of innovation, and the potential to significantly advance our knowledge or understanding. Reviewers will assign a single impact score for the entire application, which includes both the R21 and R33 phases.

Overall Impact

Reviewers will provide an overall impact score to reflect their assessment of the likelihood for the project to exert a sustained, powerful influence on the research field(s) involved, in consideration of the following review criteria and additional review criteria (as applicable for the project proposed).

Scored Review Criteria

Reviewers will consider each of the review criteria below in the determination of scientific merit, and give a separate score for each. An application does not need to be strong in all categories to be judged likely to have major scientific impact. For example, a project that by its nature is not innovative may be essential to advance a field.

Significance

Does the project address an important problem or a critical barrier to progress in the field? If the aims of the project are achieved, how will scientific knowledge, technical capability, and/or clinical practice be improved? How will successful completion of the aims change the concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services, or preventative interventions that drive this field?

Specifically, would successful completion of the aims contribute significantly to an effective strategy for eradicating HIV from the infected individual?

Investigator(s)

Are the PD(s)/PI(s), collaborators, and other researchers well suited to the project? If Early Stage Investigators or New Investigators, or in the early stages of independent careers, do they have appropriate experience and training? If established, have they demonstrated an ongoing record of accomplishments that have advanced their field(s)? If the project is collaborative or multi-PD/PI, do the investigators have complementary and integrated expertise; are their leadership approach, governance and organizational structure appropriate for the project?

Do the investigators demonstrate a clear understanding of HIV persistence and latency and the challenges faced in attempting to cure latent HIV infection?

Innovation

Does the application challenge and seek to shift current research or clinical practice paradigms by utilizing novel theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions? Are the concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions novel to one field of research or novel in a broad sense? Is a refinement, improvement, or new application of theoretical concepts, approaches or methodologies, instrumentation, or interventions proposed?

Have the proposed approaches been applied previously to the problem of HIV persistence and latency as evidenced by published research?

Approach

Are the overall strategy, methodology, and analyses well-reasoned and appropriate to accomplish the specific aims of the project? Are potential problems, alternative strategies, and benchmarks for success presented? If the project is in the early stages of development, will the strategy establish feasibility and will particularly risky aspects be managed?

If the project involves human subjects and/or NIH-defined clinical research, are the plans to address 1) the protection of human subjects from research risks, and 2) inclusion (or exclusion) of individuals on the basis of sex/gender, race, and ethnicity, as well as the inclusion or exclusion of children, justified in terms of the scientific goals and research strategy proposed?

Are the proposed milestones appropriate, quantifiable, and achievable within the allotted timeframe?

Will the approach demonstrate definitive proof-of-concept for the proposed strategy or provide sufficient evidence to rule out the proposed strategy?

Does the proposed strategy directly address the problem of eradicating latent HIV infection?

Environment

Will the scientific environment in which the work will be done contribute to the probability of success? Are the institutional support, equipment and other physical resources available to the investigators adequate for the project proposed? Will the project benefit from unique features of the scientific environment, subject populations, or collaborative arrangements?

Will the investigator have access to an appropriate model of HIV latency, drugs required for effective HAART in the model system (if appropriate), and the means to evaluate the proposed strategy in the context of infectious HIV?

Are adequate letters of support provided for critical reagents, resources, or collaborations?

Additional Review Criteria

As applicable for the project proposed, reviewers will evaluate the following additional items while determining scientific and technical merit, and in providing an overall impact score, but will not give separate scores for these items.

Protections for Human Subjects

For research that involves human subjects but does not involve one of the six categories of research that are exempt under 45 CFR Part 46, the committee will evaluate the justification for involvement of human subjects and the proposed protections from research risk relating to their participation according to the following five review criteria: 1) risk to subjects, 2) adequacy of protection against risks, 3) potential benefits to the subjects and others, 4) importance of the knowledge to be gained, and 5) data and safety monitoring for clinical trials.

For research that involves human subjects and meets the criteria for one or more of the six categories of research that are exempt under 45 CFR Part 46, the committee will evaluate: 1) the justification for the exemption, 2) human subjects involvement and characteristics, and 3) sources of materials. For additional information on review of the Human Subjects section, please refer to the Guidelines for the Review of Human Subjects.

Inclusion of Women, Minorities, and Children

When the proposed project involves human subjects and/or NIH-defined clinical research, the committee will evaluate the proposed plans for the inclusion (or exclusion) of individuals on the basis of sex/gender, race, and ethnicity, as well as the inclusion (or exclusion) of children to determine if it is justified in terms of the scientific goals and research strategy proposed. For additional information on review of the Inclusion section, please refer to the Guidelines for the Review of Inclusion in Clinical Research.

Vertebrate Animals

The committee will evaluate the involvement of live vertebrate animals as part of the scientific assessment according to the following five points: 1) proposed use of the animals, and species, strains, ages, sex, and numbers to be used; 2) justifications for the use of animals and for the appropriateness of the species and numbers proposed; 3) adequacy of veterinary care; 4) procedures for limiting discomfort, distress, pain and injury to that which is unavoidable in the conduct of scientifically sound research including the use of analgesic, anesthetic, and tranquilizing drugs and/or comfortable restraining devices; and 5) methods of euthanasia and reason for selection if not consistent with the AVMA Guidelines on Euthanasia. For additional information on review of the Vertebrate Animals section, please refer to the Worksheet for Review of the Vertebrate Animal Section.

Biohazards

Reviewers will assess whether materials or procedures proposed are potentially hazardous to research personnel and/or the environment, and if needed, determine whether adequate protection is proposed.

Resubmissions

For Resubmissions, the committee will evaluate the application as now presented, taking into consideration the responses to comments from the previous scientific review group and changes made to the project.

Renewals

Not Applicable

Revisions

Not Applicable

Additional Review Considerations

As applicable for the project proposed, reviewers will consider each of the following items, but will not give scores for these items, and should not consider them in providing an overall impact score.

Applications from Foreign Organizations

Reviewers will assess whether the project presents special opportunities for furthering research programs through the use of unusual talent, resources, populations, or environmental conditions that exist in other countries and either are not readily available in the United States or augment existing U.S. resources.

Select Agent Research

Reviewers will assess the information provided in this section of the application, including 1) the Select Agent(s) to be used in the proposed research, 2) the registration status of all entities where Select Agent(s) will be used, 3) the procedures that will be used to monitor possession use and transfer of Select Agent(s), and 4) plans for appropriate biosafety, biocontainment, and security of the Select Agent(s).

Resource Sharing Plans

Reviewers will comment on whether the following Resource Sharing Plans, or the rationale for not sharing the following types of resources, are reasonable: 1) Data Sharing Plan; 2) Sharing Model Organisms; and 3) Genomic Wide Association Studies (GWAS) /Genomic Data Sharing Plan.

Budget and Period of Support

Reviewers will consider whether the budget and the requested period of support are fully justified and reasonable in relation to the proposed research.

2. Review and Selection Process

Applications will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by (an) appropriate Scientific Review Group(s) convened by the Center for Scientific Review, in accordance with NIH peer review policy and procedures, using the stated review criteria. Assignment to a Scientific Review Group will be shown in the eRA Commons.

As part of the scientific peer review, all applications:

  • May undergo a selection process in which only those applications deemed to have the highest scientific and technical merit (generally the top half of applications under review) will be discussed and assigned an overall impact score.
  • Will receive a written critique.

Applications will be assigned on the basis of established PHS referral guidelines to the appropriate NIH Institute or Center. Applications will compete for available funds with all other recommended applications. Following initial peer review, recommended applications will receive a second level of review by the appropriate national Advisory Council or Board. The following will be considered in making funding decisions:

  • Scientific and technical merit of the proposed project as determined by scientific peer review.
  • Availability of funds.
  • Relevance of the proposed project to program priorities.
  • R33 funding decisions will be based on the original R21/R33 peer review recommendations and successful completion of milestones.

3. Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates

After the peer review of the application is completed, the PD/PI will be able to access his or her Summary Statement (written critique) via the eRA Commons.

Information regarding the disposition of applications is available in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Section VI. Award Administration Information

1. Award Notices

If the application is under consideration for funding, NIH will request "just-in-time" information from the applicant as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

A formal notification in the form of a Notice of Award (NoA) will be provided to the applicant organization for successful applications. The NoA signed by the grants management officer is the authorizing document and will be sent via email to the grantee’s business official.

Awardees must comply with any funding restrictions described in Section IV.5. Funding Restrictions. Selection of an application for award is not an authorization to begin performance. Any costs incurred before receipt of the NoA are at the recipient's risk. These costs may be reimbursed only to the extent considered allowable pre-award costs.

Any application awarded in response to this FOA will be subject to terms and conditions found on the Award Conditions and Information for NIH Grants website. This includes any recent legislation and policy applicable to awards that is highlighted on this website.

2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

All NIH grant and cooperative agreement awards include the NIH Grants Policy Statement as part of the NoA. For these terms of award, see the NIH Grants Policy Statement Part II: Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards, Subpart A: General and Part II: Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards, Subpart B: Terms and Conditions for Specific Types of Grants, Grantees, and Activities. More information is provided at Award Conditions and Information for NIH Grants.

Cooperative Agreement Terms and Conditions of Award

Not Applicable

3. Reporting

When multiple years are involved, awardees will be required to submit the Research Performance Progress Report (RPPR) annually and financial statements as required in the NIH Grants Policy Statement. For funded applications, the PD/PI will submit a progress report to the Program Officer upon completion of the R21 milestones. Receipt of this progress report will trigger an administrative program review that will determine whether the R33 should be awarded. The release of R33 funds will be based on successful completion of negotiated scientific milestones, program priorities, and the availability of funds.

A final progress report, invention statement, and the expenditure data portion of the Federal Financial Report are required for closeout of an award, as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

The Federal Funding Accountability and Transparency Act of 2006 (Transparency Act), includes a requirement for awardees of Federal grants to report information about first-tier subawards and executive compensation under Federal assistance awards issued in FY2011 or later. All awardees of applicable NIH grants and cooperative agreements are required to report to the Federal Subaward Reporting System (FSRS) available at www.fsrs.gov on all subawards over $25,000. See the NIH Grants Policy Statement for additional information on this reporting requirement.

Section VII. Agency Contacts

We encourage inquiries concerning this funding opportunity and welcome the opportunity to answer questions from potential applicants.

Application Submission Contacts

eRA Service Desk (Questions regarding ASSIST, eRA Commons registration, submitting and tracking an application, documenting system problems that threaten submission by the due date, post submission issues)
Telephone: 301-402-7469 or 866-504-9552 (Toll Free)
Finding Help Online: http://grants.nih.gov/support/index.html
Email: commons@od.nih.gov

Grants.gov Customer Support (Questions regarding Grants.gov registration and submission, downloading forms and application packages)
Contact CenterTelephone: 800-518-4726
Web ticketing system: https://grants-portal.psc.gov/ContactUs.aspx
Email: support@grants.gov

GrantsInfo (Questions regarding application instructions and process, finding NIH grant resources)
Telephone: 301-435-0714
Email: GrantsInfo@nih.gov

Scientific/Research Contact(s)

Lillian Kuo, Ph.D.
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Telephone: 240-292-4621
Email: kuols@niaid.nih.gov

Jeymohan Joseph, Ph.D.
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Telephone: 240-627-3869
Email: jjeymoha@mail.nih.gov

Peer Review Contact(s)

Robert Freund, Ph.D.
Center for Scientific Review (CSR)
Telephone: 301-435-1050
Email: freundr@csr.nih.gov

Financial/Grants Management Contact(s)

Tamia Powell
National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)
Telephone: 240-669-2982
Email: powellty@mail.nih.gov

Rita Sisco
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)
Telephone: 301-443-2805
Email: siscor@mail.nih.gov

Section VIII. Other Information

Recently issued trans-NIH policy notices may affect your application submission. A full list of policy notices published by NIH is provided in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts. All awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Authority and Regulations

Awards are made under the authorization of Sections 301 and 405 of the Public Health Service Act as amended (42 USC 241 and 284) and under Federal Regulations 42 CFR Part 52 and 45 CFR Parts 74 and 92.

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