NIAID is issuing this Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) to highlight the need for research on Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) and Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). NIAID is particularly interested in projects focusing on viral natural history, pathogenicity, transmission, as well as projects developing medical countermeasures and suitable animal models for pre-clinical testing of vaccines and therapeutics against SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19.
NIAID is therefore offering Competitive Revisions to active NIAID grants addressing research objectives described below.
Coronaviruses are a diverse family of viruses that cause a range of disease in humans and animals, and there are currently no approved coronavirus vaccines or therapeutics. In January 2020, a novel coronavirus was identified as the causative agent of a now global pandemic of viral pneumonia. Current information regarding confirmed cases is changing daily and can be found on the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention website (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/index.html) and through other sources. Transmission characteristics and the associated morbidity and mortality are not completely understood, but there is clear evidence of human-to-human transmission. Many other aspects of viral pathogenesis, natural history, and host range are poorly understood. Given this, there is an urgent public health need to better understand SARS-CoV-2/COVID-19, particularly to improve understanding of fundamental virology, immunology, and the development of animal models and medical countermeasures.
In order to rapidly improve our understanding and available control measures for SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19, NIAID is encouraging the submission of applications for Competitive Revisions to active grants to address the following research areas of interest:
- Studies to identify optimal in vitroculture requirements and conditions;
- Development of reagents and assays for virus characterization;
- Studies to understand critical aspects of viral infection, replication, pathogenesis, and transmission;
- Studies to identify viral epitopes critical for binding neutralization;
- Studies to examine virus stability and persistence;
- Production of molecular clones of SARS-CoV-2, reporter viruses and recombinant viral proteins;
- Development of animal models of SARS-CoV-2 infection suitable for screening vaccine and therapeutic candidates and/or pathogenesis studies;
- Studies on the evolution and emergence of SARS-CoV-2 viruses including the identification of factors that affect viral host-range and virulence;
- Virologic and serologic surveillance studies of the distribution and natural history of SARS-CoV-2 viruses in animal populations and in humans at the human/animal interface with particular emphasis on host reservoirs and understanding cross-species transmission events;
- Development of sensitive, specific, and rapid clinical diagnostic tests for SARS-CoV-2;
- Development of SARS-COV-2 therapeutic candidates; broad-spectrum therapeutics against multiple coronavirus strains; examination of SARS-CoV-2 antiviral activity of existing or candidate therapeutics initially developed for other indications;
- Identification and evaluation of the innate, cellular and humoral immune responses to SARS-CoV-2 infection and/or candidate vaccines, including, but not limited to: cross-reactive antibodies from individuals exposed to SARS-CoV-2 and other coronaviruses; viral epitopes critical for antibody binding and neutralization; immune-mediated pathology or host factors that might predispose to severe infection; and
- Development of SARS-CoV-2 vaccine candidates that include emerging antigen design strategies, novel platforms or delivery approaches, adjuvants, or assessing cross-neutralization potential of SARS-CoV vaccine candidates.