A new grant from the National Institutes of Health has funded the Texas Development Center for AIDS Research (D-CFAR), a collaboration between The University of Texas Health Science Center at Houston, Baylor College of Medicine, and the Texas Biomedical Research Institute in San Antonio.

The center will support the overall mission of the national Center for AIDS Research by prioritizing and growing HIV research and supporting the effort to end the epidemic in the United States.

Development of the Texas center is important since the state has a growing number of people with HIV due to its large population, coupled with lesser public health investment, said Thomas Giordano, MD, director of the new center and professor of medicine and section chief of infectious diseases at Baylor. There is an urgent need for more research and infrastructure to combat this epidemic in the state.

“If you look at HIV in the U.S., it has shifted over the decades from the Northeast and West Coast to the South and Southeast, and Texas is responsible for a large portion of the HIV epidemic,” Giordano said. “A number of places have made strides in their responses to the HIV epidemic, and there are fewer people becoming newly infected by it in many places in the U.S., but the decline in Texas has been slower. We are fortunate to get this grant to try to accelerate the efforts in Texas.”

The research grant will catalyze and accelerate the discovery and implementation of new ways to end the HIV epidemic, including through basic science research, translational research, clinical trials and health services research. The goal is to reduce the burden of HIV and its associated health issues to improve the health of people with HIV and prevent new infections. The Texas D-CFAR’s work will be informed by research experts, community partners and public health authorities in Houston, the state of Texas and the U.S.

Throughout its five-year funding period, the Texas D-CFAR will focus on three major points:

  • Providing organizational and infrastructure support to facilitate activities and programs that strengthen and enrich the HIV research environment in Texas.
  • Supporting targeted high-priority interdisciplinary pilot research projects, assisting in responding to new HIV-related research initiatives and facilitating research on ending HIV and improving health of people with HIV in Texas.
  • Providing state-of-the-art expertise, advice and services to facilitate the range of HIV-related research for investigators at the Texas D-CFAR institutions.

“As new antiretroviral drugs became available, the life expectancy of people with HIV bumped up to that of the general population. However, our current research should address the emergence of comorbidities such as cardiovascular, liver, kidney and bone diseases and cancer, among others, observed in the aging population with HIV. The Texas D-CFAR has a pivotal role bringing established and new investigators with expertise on different fields together and providing them the tools and support to address these problems,” said Robert C. Arduino, MD, Texas D-CFAR co-director for UTHealth and professor of infectious disease at McGovern Medical School.

“This will be the groundwork to develop new research and to develop new investigators doing HIV research and to increase the partnerships across the academic research institutions, the public health entities and the community. It takes a whole team to make an impact on the HIV epidemic across the state and worldwide,” Giordano said.

Deepak Kaushal, PhD, serves as the Texas D-CFAR co-director for Texas Biomedical Research Institute. Andrew Rice, PhD, professor of molecular virology and microbiology, is the co-director for Baylor College of Medicine.

Request for Pilot Grant Applications

Proposals in all areas of HIV/AIDS basic, clinical, behavioral, substance use, and implementation science research are welcome. The Texas D-CFAR is especially interested in proposals aligned with its theme –“Ending HIV and Optimizing Health in Texas,” including research on Ending the HIV Epidemic, reducing health disparities and research that focuses on or includes community engagement components. Proposals for feasibility studies in non-human primates at the Texas Biomedical Research Institute are encouraged

Early-stage investigators and established investigators new to HIV/AIDS research at participating Texas D-CFAR institutes are eligible to apply. Applications from eligible investigators who are members of racial or ethnic groups historically under-represented in research (Blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, American Indians or Alaska Natives, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders) or who are members of sexual and gender minority groups are particularly encouraged.

Although proposals from individual investigators are welcome, collaborations between investigators at two or more D-CFAR institutes are encouraged. Co-investigators may be from institutes that are not D-CFAR institutes. Pilot Project grants will be awarded for one year; budgets vary depending upon the home D-CFAR institution(s) of the investigator(s) and scope of the project. Budgets range from $50,000 to $100,000 in direct costs only. Contact the D-CFAR Developmental Core for specific budget information.

A Letter of Intent (LOI) to submit a Pilot Project application is due June 7, 2021 and full applications are due July 6, 2021. The LOI is limited to one page and must include the title of the project, a brief description of the project, and a list of key personnel with their titles, institution, and roles. Application instructions are attached. The Texas D-CFAR Developmental Core can also identify a mentor for early-stage investigators to assist in Pilot Project applications and career development. Submit LOI and applications to: mailto:Tx-D-CFAR-Dev-Core@bcm.edu.

Applications must include:

  1. Cover letter that states principal investigator (s), institutes of investigators, project title, requested budget
  2. Project summary/abstract (30 lines of text limit)
  3. Lay language summary (30 lines of text limit)
  4. NIH Biosketch for all key personnel
  5. Facilities & other resources; equipment
  6. Budget (direct costs only) and budget justification: Indirect costs are not allowed
  7. Research plan
    1. Specific aims (1 page limit)
    2. Research strategy (3 page limit: include significance, innovation, and approach sections
    3. Brief statement of plans to transition pilot project to NIH-funded project (30 lines of text limit)
  8. References cited
  9. Human subjects if applicable. IRB approval can be pending. Include:
    1. Description of human subjects’ involvement
    2. Risks to human subjects
    3. Adequacy of protection against risks
    4. Potential benefits
    5. Importance of knowledge to be gained
  10. Vertebrate animals if applicable. Include:
    1. Description of animals
    2. Justification for the use of animals
    3. Interventions to minimize discomfort, distress, pain and injury
    4. Euthanasia method
  11. Letters of support if applicable