NIAID To Fund Centers for AIDS Research

Date: March 3, 1994
Source: National Institutes of Health (NIH)
Author: National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID)

The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) will award grants for three new and eight continuing Centers for AIDS Research (CFARs) at leading research institutions in the United States. In addition, the National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) will fund one new CFAR.

The CFAR grants, lasting five years, provide shared core support for facilities, research techniques, and staff at institutions conducting high quality, multidisciplinary research on HIV and AIDS.

"The very nature of the HIV epidemic requires a multifaceted approach to research that involves basic, preclinical, clinical and applied scientific investigations. Our CFARs foster interdisciplinary cooperation between basic and clinical scientists who have earned outstanding reputations in HIV and AIDS research," says Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., director of NIAID. "In addition, the CFAR concept permits a greater quantity and quality of HIV and AIDS research than would be possible with the same investment of resources in individual grants."

The NIAID CFAR program will total about $7 million during the first year, with individual grants awarded between March 1 and Aug. 1, 1994. The maximum level of funding has been set at $750,000 for each award for the first year. Applicant institutions for CFARs had to demonstrate substantial current funding in AIDS research from NIAID.

NIAID established the CFAR program in 1988 to substantially enhance the yield of scientific information about HIV and AIDS that could lead to improving the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of the disease.

"The CFAR supported by the National Institute of Mental Health will provide a comprehensive scientific base that will permit the development of prevention programs to stem the spread of HIV and to handle the psychosocial and neuropsychiatric consequences of the disease," says Ellen Stover, Ph.D., director of the Office on AIDS at NIMH.

Each CFAR is organized into core areas reflecting the research priorities and capabilities of the institution. The cores are responsible for providing support including space, equipment, personnel and technical expertise to many individually funded scientific projects in a given research area, such as molecular biology or animal studies.

"Funds also may support initial salaries and research costs of scientists new to AIDS research and pilot investigations whose feasibility has not yet been proven," explains Robert Bassin, Ph.D., project officer for the CFAR program and chief of the Resources and Centers Branch of the Division of AIDS at NIAID. Janet Young, Ph.D., of DAIDS, is the co-project officer for the CFAR.

As part of competition for awards, the candidate CFARs were evaluated on their ongoing HIV-related research, on their academic environments and resources and on their institutions' commitments to the goals and objectives of the CFARs.

Selection criteria also included the effectiveness of the proposed CFAR core activities and their operation, the qualifications, experience and commitment of the candidate directors of the CFAR and of its core areas, the proposed advisory groups for the CFAR and the CFAR's commitment to develop scientists who are new to HIV- and AIDS-related research.

The new NIAID CFAR directors and their universities are: Janet Butel, Ph.D., at Baylor College of Medicine, Stuart Le Grice, Ph.D., at Case Western Reserve University and Flossie Wong-Staal, Ph.D., at the University of California at San Diego.

The other eight directors and their institutions are: David Ho, M.D., at Aaron Diamond AIDS Research Center at New York University, Arye Rubinstein, M.D., at Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Joseph Sodroski, M.D., at Dana- Farber Cancer Institute, Dani Bolognesi, Ph.D., at Duke University, Eric Hunter, Ph.D., at the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Irvin S.Y. Chen, Ph.D., at the University of California at Los Angeles, Paul Volberding, M.D., at the University of California at San Francisco, King K. Holmes, M.D., Ph.D., at the University of Washington at Seattle. Drs. Ho and Sodroski are new directors of existing CFARs, while the other six scientists are continuing as directors for their CFARs.

The NIMH CFAR is under the direction of Jeffrey A. Kelly, Ph.D., at the Medical College of Wisconsin in Milwaukee.

NIAID and NIMH, components of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), support investigators and scientific studies at universities, medical schools, hospitals and research institutions in the United States. NIAID focuses on preventing, diagnosing and treating such illnesses as AIDS, tuberculosis and asthma as well as allergies. NIMH focuses on the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of mental and brain disorders, including neuropsychiatric and behavioral intervention studies related to AIDS. NIH is an agency of the U.S. Public Health Service, part of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.