AmfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, has announced a $100 million investment strategy in support of its Countdown to a Cure for AIDS initiative, including $20 million to create an amfAR Institute for HIV Cure Research.
Launched in 2014 to develop the scientific basis of a cure for AIDS by 2020, the initiative is focused on addressing four key challenges: pinpointing where so-called reservoirs of persistent virus are located, determining how they are formed and persist, quantifying how much virus is in them, and eradicating the reservoirs from the body. Located in a major academic research institution to be selected in the fall, the new institute will recruit a team of researchers to collaborate on all four issues across the research continuum, from basic science to clinical studies.
To complement the institute, amfAR plans to award grants totaling $80 million in support of research teams worldwide, including Innovation Grants of up to $200,000 over two years to enable researchers to test innovative ideas supported by limited preliminary data; Impact Grants of up to $2 million over four years to support the in-depth development of concepts already underpinned by preliminary data; and $1 million Investment Grants aimed at recruiting scientists from fields such as cancer, neuroscience, or inflammatory disease who can directly inform efforts to cure HIV. In addition, an Opportunity Fund will enable amfAR to respond quickly to emerging research opportunities.
Earlier this month, amfAR awarded a first round of Innovation Grants totaling nearly $2 million, including one to support a study at Oregon Health and Science University that could help determine the precise mechanism that led to the first and only known HIV cure in "the Berlin patient." In addition, a $1.5 million grant was awarded through the amfAR Research Consortium on HIV Eradication (ARCHE) for a collaborative research project involving teams at Rockefeller University in New York, Aarhus University Hospital in Denmark, and the University Hospital of Cologne in Germany.
"This represents the greatest expansion of amfAR's grantmaking in the thirty-year history of the foundation," said amfAR CEO Kevin Robert Frost. "We're very excited to be launching this strategy and establishing an institute dedicated exclusively to the pursuit of a cure for HIV. Concentrating the minds and the efforts of leading AIDS cure researchers under one roof will facilitate the rapid sharing of knowledge and ideas and create the kind of synergy needed to accelerate the search for a cure."