Perspectives on research priorities and funding gaps in developing countries: a review of REACH initiative grant submissions
K. Manson1, J. Lange2, M. Saag3, M. Wildgust4, A. Owor1
1Tibotec BVBA, Mechelen, Belgium, 2Academic Medical Center, University of Amsterdam, Amsterdam, Netherlands, 3University of Alabama Center for AIDS Research, Birmingham, United States, 4Tibotec Therapeutics, Bridgewater, United States
Issues: In 2008, over $215 million dollars was invested by US based funders towards research issues around the global AIDS epidemic. Understanding investment gaps and the interests of researchers in developing countries is essential to determining research priorities and focusing these funding efforts. A review of Letters of Intent (LOIs) provides a unique opportunity to understand the priorities and funding gaps of researchers in developing countries.
Description: The REACH Initiative is a request-for-proposals mechanism dedicated to funding (up to $100,000 per project) collaborative HIV/AIDS projects between organizations in the developed and developing world. The Initiative fosters the work of emerging biomedical and social researchers in Africa, Asia, Latin America, and Eastern Europe, funding projects that optimize treatment, develop new or more cost-effective technologies and integrate bio-medical and social research. In 2008, organizations submitted nearly 140 LOIs for research projects.
Lessons learned: Critical priorities emerged through a review of REACH Initiative LOIs. The most frequent research topics include: the prevalence or outcomes of co-infections and their associated treatments (tuberculosis, hepatitis B and C, malaria, and herpes among others); patterns and characteristics of adherence, virologic failure and drug resistance; influencers and barriers to programs for prevention of mother-to-child transmission (PMTCT); and field tests of interventions targeting migrant populations, especially mobile technologies. The emphasis on co-infections underscores the need for funding of disease areas beyond HIV. The recurrent research interests highlight the need for additional funding in the priority topics.
Next steps: Research grants for developing countries play an important role in advancing local knowledge, capacity and solutions. Greater and more targeted investment is needed to implement local research priorities and fill funding gaps. Grant-makers may wish to direct funding in resource-limited settings to these areas of researcher interest.
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