The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) supports a broad-based Alcohol Research Centers program to foster and conduct interdisciplinary, collaborative research on alcoholism, alcohol abuse and the impact of alcohol on health and disease. This FOA uses the NIH Comprehensive Research Center (P60) mechanism to support a research center grant to conduct cross-cutting research on alcohol and HIV/AIDS.
NIAAA seeks applications aimed to address the impact of alcohol use on the most important challenges for ending HIV/AIDS pandemic, outlined as the High Priority topics of research by the NIH Office of AIDS Research (https://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-15-137.html). These priority areas are: 1) Reducing incidence of HIV/AIDS including vaccine development and infection prevention; 2) Next generation of HIV therapy; 3) Research toward a cure; 4) Comorbidities, coinfections, and complications; 5) cross-cutting areas of basic research on fundamental issues that underpin the development of high priority HIV prevention, cure, co-morbidities, and treatment strategies; 6) research to reduce health disparities, and research training of workforce required to conduct high priority HIV/AIDS related research.
A Center for HIV/AIDS and Alcohol Research at the National Institute of Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism would provide administrative and shared research support to synergistically enhance and coordinate high quality HIV/AIDS and alcohol research projects. This may be accomplished by utilizing one of the resource cores of the center to develop facilities that may provide expertise, resources, and services not otherwise readily obtained through more traditional funding mechanisms to either HIV/AIDS or Alcohol researchers. The need for interdisciplinary collaboration between the fields of alcohol and HIV/AIDS research is emphasized, in support of translational research towards the national goals on preventing new infections and effectively treating the comorbid conditions in those individuals living with HIV infection.
The Alcohol-HIV/AIDS Research Center grant provides a mechanism for fostering interdisciplinary cooperation within a group of established investigators conducting exceptional alcohol-HIV/AIDS research. Therefore, existence of a strong research capability is fundamental to an Alcohol-HIV/AIDS Research Center. A Center should be an identifiable organizational unit within an institutional or organizational structure such as a university, medical center, or a consortium of affiliated cooperating institutions. In addition to providing support for shared resources, this type of Center supports a full range of basic, developmental, clinical, and/or applied research components; allows for growth and development through pilot projects; and is intended to provide state-of-the-art leadership in the alcohol-HIV/AIDS field. Unique scientific opportunities such as sharing of resources or expertise may warrant collaboration with investigators from other centers or from other institutions. Center grants help to provide a stable environment for investigators to engage in alcohol-HIV/AIDS research in a coordinated, integrated and synergistic effort. Comprehensive Alcohol-HIV/AIDS Research Centers are also expected to function as a regional and national resource in their particular area of expertise; to facilitate research training; to develop research collaborations with outside investigators; and to provide a means to develop new ideas and encourage new investigators via pilot projects.
In addition, Comprehensive centers (P60) must include a core component which supports activities designed to translate research findings into health care practice, and/or leads to public information dissemination. The proposed activity is expected to lead to the development of collaborative partnerships for the translation of insights and findings from basic and pre-clinical research to treatment and prevention. Examples include interventions with alcohol affected individuals in clinical practices, health care or community settings, or innovative interventions to study the effects of services for diverse populations in disparate social, cultural and environmental contexts. For dissemination of scientific knowledge educational efforts directed to the public, patient populations, policy makers, students, professionals and paraprofessional are considered as well as educational programs for specific audiences, e.g., children, women, elderly etc. Dissemination of scientific knowledge may also involve establishment of research and research training collaborations for the purpose of expanding the capacity of other institutions including minority serving institutions, in developing rigorous alcohol research programs. Outreach activities may be pursued in collaboration with other Centers, thereby optimizing the impact.
Given the significant overlap between alcohol use-associated susceptibility of infections and chronic conditions in multiple organ/systems and HIV-related comorbid conditions, research topics for the center core components may include but are not limited to:
- Impact of alcohol use on HIV related chronic disease/conditions and the underlying organ injury, including cardiovascular, neurological and metabolic complications, chronic liver conditions (steatosis, fibrosis and cirrhosis in combination with HCV and/or HBV), TB and other respiratory diseases (e.g., COPD, pneumonia, in connection with smoking), and adverse effects of anti-retroviral therapy. Identification of the underlying pathophysiological mechanism of alcohol’s impact.
- Impact of alcohol use on organ/system that could adversely affect HIV-related comorbidities including immune and GI tract barrier function, dysbiosis and immune activation and chronic inflammation. Identification of the underlying pathophysiological mechanism of alcohol’s impact.
- Impact of alcohol use on susceptibility to HIV infection, including relevant defects in mucosal barrier and immune compartments, HIV latency/persistence. Identification of the underlying pathophysiological mechanism of alcohol’s impact.
Basic/mechanistic studies are to provide the underlying foundation for all HIV research areas and include studies on HIV virology; acquisition, transmission, and susceptibility; and investigations of HIV-related immunology and host-viral interactions. Research on the viral, cellular, molecular, genetic, and immune mechanisms of pathogenesis is essential to better understand HIV acquisition, prevention, and disease progression, and the mechanisms leading to the pathogenesis of HIV-associated comorbidities, coinfections, and complications and a potential cure. Efforts must be made to ensure linkages to NIH-supported HIV cohorts, biorepositories, and databases and to integrate animal studies, particularly those using non-human primates, into the discovery pipeline.
The NIAAA Comprehensive Alcohol Research Center P60 must focus mainly on human studies. However, NIAAA may consider research projects on animal models, as a component of the P60 that are responsive to the NIH 2020 OAR priorities. Topics appropriate for this FOA include, but are not limited to:
Research on the mechanisms by which alcohol modulates viral, cellular, molecular, genetic, and immune mechanisms of pathogenesis is essential to better understand the role of alcohol use and addiction on HIV acquisition, prevention, and disease progression, and the mechanisms leading to the pathogenesis of HIV-associated CCCs (comorbidities, coinfections and complications) and a potential cure.
- Efforts must be made to ensure linkages of alcohol animal models, particularly those using non-human primates to NIAAA/NIH-supported Alcohol-HIV/AIDS cohorts, biorepositories, and databases and to integrate animal studies, into the discovery pipeline
The development and validation of biomarkers, and appropriate animal and other surrogate models, which predict viral remission or reactivation/rebound of latent virus, are important priorities for cure research, and how the biomarkers are affected by alcohol use.
- An improved understanding of the role of alcohol use in the dynamics of the HIV reservoir will inform the expansion of new therapeutic interventions for sustained ART-free viral remission and eradication. Novel technologies with the potential to enable reliable and valid self-administered testing for viral replication must be explored in alcoholic patients.
- Characterizing the effects of alcohol use on the immune response, using animal and human models to develop cross-reactive antibodies between species, may provide promising scientific opportunities.
All components (research projects, resources, dissemination & individual pilot projects) of the P60 must be alcohol and HIV/AIDS related research. Applications with a component (s) that is non-alcohol and HIV/AIDS related will be considered non-responsive and will not be reviewed.
Before preparing the application, prospective applicants are encouraged to read the OAR and the NIAAA Strategic Plans, and to reach out to the scientific contacts listed in this FOA.
Deadline: March 16, 2019 (letters of intent); April 16, 2019 (full proposals)
Filed Under: Funding Opportunities