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Calls to Action

NIH to fund Research to Advance Vaccine Safety

September 02, 2008

The NIH has issued a funding opportunity announcement (FOA) request for grant applications entitled Research to Advance Vaccine Safety, designed to support research that will contribute to the overall understanding of vaccine safety. This R01 research opportunity invites studies that address scientific areas potentially relevant to vaccine safety such as 1) physiological and immunological responses to vaccines and vaccine components, 2) how genetic variations affect immune/physiological responses that may impact vaccine safety, 3) identification of risk factors and biological markers that may be used to assess whether there is a relationship between certain diseases or disorders and licensed vaccines, or 4) the application of genomic/molecular technologies to improve knowledge of vaccine safety.

Click below to read details of the FOAs


Vaccines have led to some of the greatest public health achievements in history, including the worldwide eradication of naturally-occurring smallpox and the near-eradication of polio. In addition, vaccines have contributed to significant reduction in the disease burden imposed by measles, mumps, hepatitis, influenza, diphtheria, and many other infections. The science of vaccinology is dynamic -- it unfolds as technology enables scientists to continue to create safer and more effective vaccines.

Vaccine safety is an integral part of every aspect of vaccine development and evaluation. Despite the rigorous evaluation process, in recent years some members of the public have raised concerns about potential relationships between vaccines and particular diseases or adverse events. A series of Institute of Medicine reviews (2001 to 2004) evaluated the state of the science for specific vaccine safety topics and recommended research activities to help address key areas. Since that time, scientific research has advanced our knowledge in many areas. Because this knowledge continuously generates new questions and opens new avenues for exploration, NIH is interested in encouraging research to address important scientific questions relating to vaccine safety.

Examples of research topics include, but are not limited to:

  • Detailed evaluation of various host immune/physiological responses to currently licensed vaccine antigens and/or adjuvant combinations
  • Evaluation of existing childhood immunization schedules to optimize safe and long-term protective immune memory
  • Studies that define the capacity and quality of the immune response throughout infancy and childhood. Can vaccines be further optimized to minimize the need for secondary immunizations?
  • Identification of the molecular basis for differential immune/physiologic responses to vaccination at different stages of life or when underlying health problems exist
  • Studies to determine if there are associations between genetic variations among individuals and susceptibility to serious adverse events in response to vaccination
  • Identification of risk factors and biological markers that would allow for assessment of whether there is a relationship between certain diseases or disorders and licensed vaccines
  • Comparison of the immunologic and physiologic effects of different combinations of vaccines and different schedules