NIH Press Release
National Institute of Allergy and
Infectious Diseases

Wednesday, Mar. 5, 1997

John Bowsersox
(301) 402-1663

New Grant Program Encourages Innovative AIDS Vaccine Research

Acting on the recommendation of an expert advisory panel, the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) has unveiled a new grant program designed to speed the pace of AIDS vaccine discovery and development. Called the INNOVATION Grant Program for Approaches in HIV Vaccine Research, the new initiative will support research projects that may involve a high degree of innovation, risk and novelty, and that show clear promise for improving vaccine design or evaluation.

"This important initiative demonstrates our commitment to finding ways to prevent HIV infection and AIDS," says Department of Health and Human Services Secretary Donna E. Shalala. "While recent advances in treatment show that we are making real progress against HIV/AIDS, a vaccine remains our best hope for stopping this epidemic."

"This new grant program will enable us to rapidly exploit new scientific opportunities and broaden the base of scientific inquiry related to AIDS vaccine research," adds NIAID Director Anthony S. Fauci, M.D.

Investigators with no HIV research experience are encouraged to apply for research support under the INNOVATION program. "INNOVATION will help bring creative ideas and new people into AIDS vaccine research," says David Baltimore, Ph.D., chair of the AIDS Vaccine Research Committee (AVRC), which endorsed the program at its first meeting on February 17. INNOVATION awards will be targeted at $150,000 per year in direct costs. The first phase of this pilot grant program encourages three areas of research:

The program represents the AVRC's first action to help stimulate HIV vaccine research. The committee was created earlier this year after an external review panel called for improved coordination of National Institutes of Health (NIH)-supported AIDS vaccine activities. The AVRC assists NIH in developing a comprehensive research program aimed at expediting the discovery and development of a safe and effective AIDS vaccine. It is also responsible for advising the HIV/AIDS vaccine research program at NIH about scientific opportunities, gaps in knowledge, and future directions of HIV/AIDS vaccine research. In addition to Dr. Baltimore, a professor of molecular biology and immunology at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, members of the committee include:

Barry Bloom, M.D.
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Albert Einstein College of Medicine
Bronx, N.Y.
Robert Couch, M.D.
Baylor College of Medicine
Houston, Texas
Beatrice Hahn, M.D.
University of Alabama at Birmingham
Birmingham, Ala.
Peter Kim, Ph.D.
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Whitehead Institute
Cambridge, Mass.
Norman Letvin, M.D.
Harvard Medical School
Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center
Boston, Mass.
Daniel Littman, M.D., Ph.D.
Howard Hughes Medical Institute
Skirball Institute of Biomolecular Medicine
New York University Medical Center
New York, N.Y.
Neal Nathanson, M.D.
University of Pennsylvania
Medical Center
Philadelphia, Pa.
Douglas Richman, M.D.
University of California at San Diego
La Jolla, Calif.
William Snow
San Francisco, Calif.
Irving Weisman, M.D.
Stanford University School of Medicine
Stanford, Calif.

An announcement requesting applications under the new program will be released March 7 in the NIH Guide to Grants and Contracts. Applications will be due on or before May 23, 1997. For more information about the INNOVATION Grant Program contact Dr. Carole Heilman, associate director for scientific program development, Division of AIDS, NIAID.

NIAID press releases, fact sheets and other materials are available on the Internet via the NIAID home page at