The National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the National Institutes of Health (NIH), is reshaping its research enterprise to broaden HIV vaccine discovery activities. Many of the initiatives have evolved from ideas and opinions recently expressed by scientists either at NIAID's HIV Vaccine Summit on March 25 or in response to two Requests for Information that NIAID issued in April.
There is broad scientific consensus that more extensive vaccine discovery efforts involving laboratory, non-human primate (NHP) and clinical researchers could yield greater understanding of how a successful HIV vaccine might be designed. To that end, NIAID has received approval from its AIDS Research Advisory Committee to develop two major new initiatives to support individual investigator-initiated grants in HIV vaccine discovery and other tactics to interrupt HIV transmission. Information on these initiatives is at http://www.
NIAID has also initiated activities to expand NHP research in support of HIV vaccine discovery. First, NIAID is partnering with organizations at NIH and beyond to better track NHP research needs so supply can keep pace with demand. Second, the Institute is planning a workshop on November 12-13, 2008, to explore in detail NHP research needs and approaches and to help guide the design of a future initiative. Third, NIAID's HIV Vaccine Trials Network (HVTN) will promote the exchange of HIV vaccine scientists, particularly new or young HIV vaccine researchers, between NHP laboratories and human clinics to strengthen the bridges between NHP and human research and to ensure more directly comparable results. In addition, NIAID is committed to attracting and retaining young investigators in the field of HIV vaccines by helping them obtain their first grants.
To accommodate this shift of effort and resources toward HIV vaccine discovery research, NIAID plans to reconsider the number of awards in its preclinical HIV vaccine development programs. The Institute also plans to work with the HVTN to ensure that its clinical research infrastructure is nimble, expandable and contractible as the number and size of clinical studies dictate.
ARTICLE: AS Fauci et al. HIV Vaccine Research: The Way Forward. Science 321(5888) (2008).
WHO: Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., the director of NIAID, and Margaret Johnston, Ph.D., the director of the Vaccine Research Program in NIAID's Division of AIDS, are available to comment on this article.
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