CIPHER Grant Programme

Applications for the CIPHER Grant Programme – 2016/2017 Round are now closed. Notifications to all applicants will be sent in mid-December.

With the generous support of an unrestricted grant from the ViiV Healthcare Paediatric Innovation Seed Fund, the Collaborative Initiative for Paediatric HIV Education and Research (CIPHER) Grant Programme was established in 2012 to provide a total of US$1 million for research projects that address priority research gaps in paediatric HIV. The CIPHER grant offers early-stage investigators up to $75,000 each for up to two years of research.

The 2013 round was very successful, with a high level of response and many high-quality proposals submitted, demonstrating the great need to support early-stage investigators in paediatric HIV. Seven grantees were awarded at the 7th IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention (IAS 2013) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. Read more about the 2013 grantees, including the selection process.

In 2014, two additional grantees were selected based on the pool of short-listed applicants for the 2013 round. The 2014 grantees were awarded at the 20th International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2014) in Melbourne, Australia. Read more about the 2014 grantees.

The 2015 round was again very successful and, based on renewed support from ViiV Healthcare and additional funding from Janssen, five grantees were awarded at the 8th IAS Conference on HIV Pathogenesis, Treatment and Prevention (IAS 2015) in Vancouver, Canada. Read more about the 2015 grantees, including the selection process.

The 2016 round, which totalled 1.2 million dollars, was the largest in the initiative’s history. Made possible with a new £1 million grant commitment from ViiV Healthcare, CIPHER founding sponsors, and additional funding from Janssen, seven grantees were awarded at the 21st International AIDS Conference (AIDS 2016) in Durban, South Africa. Read more about the 2016 grantees, including the selection process.

CIPHER grantees attend the biennial IAS and international AIDS conferences, where they participate in the award ceremonies and professional development workshops and present their research. Registration, travel, accommodation and living allowance are covered through the research grant programme.

Promoting targeted research in paediatric HIV

The purpose of the Collaborative Initiative for Paediatric HIV Education and Research (CIPHER) Grant Programme is to fund research projects that contribute to the optimization of diagnosis, prevention, treatment and care of infants, children and adolescents affected by HIV in resource-limited settings.

The intention is to attract early-stage investigators – from inside and outside the field of HIV research – to address critical research questions, while providing a unique opportunity for professional development.

To identify the most urgent research questions in paediatric HIV research, a needs assessment, including a rigorous review of scientific literature and key informant interviews with technical experts, was conducted. . In 2015 an in-committee review was conducted to revise and update these research gaps. The identified research priorities provide the scope of the CIPHER Grant Programme.

Eligibility criteria

  • The principal investigator (PI) must be an early-stage investigator, i.e., an individual who obtained her/his terminal research degree (e.g., PhD, MD followed by research training, or MBBS) less than 10 years before the application deadline.
  • The PI must serve for the first time as primary PI. Primary PIs who previously received a non-training research grant exceeding US$ 30,000 are not eligible.
  • The PI must fulfil one of the following criteria prior to the submission deadline for the LOI:
    • He/she is a clinical/research trainee (e.g., fellow, senior resident) at an academic institute or an institute whose primary mission is research.
    • He/she has a faculty or comparable position (e.g., assistant professor, lecturer) at an academic institute or an institute whose primary mission is research.
    • He/she has an established position at an organization with adequate research infrastructure to undertake the proposed research activities.
  • The research project should demonstrate the potential to contribute to the optimization of HIV diagnosis, prevention, treatment and care of infants, children and adolescents affected by HIV in resource-limited settings by responding to identified research gaps (see list below).
  • Applications are encouraged from any country, but preference (approximately 80%) will be given to applicants from low- and middle-income countries (LMICs) according to the World Bank classification.
  • The PI must choose a mentor with relevant expertise in paediatric HIV research (a mentorship plan and letter of commitment from the mentor will be requested from each shortlisted applicant invited to submit a full proposal).
  • The budget should reflect that at least 80% of the direct grant expenses will be spent in LMICs.

List of eligible research priorities

The research funded by the CIPHER Grant Programme must address the targeted research gaps outlined by the CIPHER Needs Assessment and by the CIPHER Scientific Committee. Eligible research projects include original research that falls within defined priority clinical and operational research questions. Meta-analyses and systematic reviews will be considered if they make a unique contribution to the outlined questions.

Clinical research:

  • Pharmacokinetic, pharmacodynamic and pharmacogenomics studies of paediatric antiretrovirals and of drugs for co-morbid conditions (particularly for TB, and malnutrition) with a focus on pre-term infants and neonates.
  • Studies to evaluate the short- and long-term complications of HIV and of antiretroviral therapy and the pathogenesis of such complications, as well as management of HIV, including interventions to treat HIV co-infections (especially TB) and co-morbidities (including malnutrition), as HIV-infected children age through adolescence and young adulthood.
  • Studies to evaluate the effect of antiretroviral therapy during pregnancy on maternal pregnancy complications, pregnancy outcomes (e.g., prematurity, low birth weight) and neonatal outcomes (morbidity and motality) in HIV- and antiretroviral-exposed uninfected and HIV-infected neonates, including studies to evaluate potential pathogenesis of adverse effects.
  • Studies to evaluate the long-term effects of in utero exposure to maternal antiretroviral therapy in HIV-exposed uninfected children and adolescents, including effects on metabolism, bone mineral density and growth, other laboratory/biologic markers, and physical and cognitive development.
  • Studies evaluating and/or validating diagnostic assays to assess neurocognitive and physical development among HIV-infected and HIV-exposed uninfected infants and children in resource-limited settings.

Operational research and implementation science:

  • Evaluations of optimal and innovative strategies for the delivery and implementation of HIV diagnostics (especially for older children), including impact assessment of clinical platforms, point of care technologies, early infant diagnosis and linkage to care.
  • Studies evaluating interventions and optimal models for integrating paediatric HIV services with maternal, newborn and child health and other health services.
  • Studies evaluating interventions and optimal models for promoting early post-natal and long-term programme retention and reducing loss to follow up.
  • Studies evaluating optimal interventions to support childhood and adolescent disclosure and adherence (including for high-risk adolescents and young key populations).
  • Studies evaluating the most effective service delivery approaches to support retention in care and transition to adult ART programmes, access to psychosocial and sexual and reproductive health services and delivery of biomedical HIV and STI prevention interventions for adolescents, with emphasis on integrated comprehensive packages of ‘adolescent-friendly’ strategies and services (including for high-risk adolescents and young key populations).



Supporting documents

Call for Letter of intent

Letter of Intent Template

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

Grant Programme
2013-2015 Impact Report

2016 CIPHER Grantees

Amara Ezeamama (Nigeria): Chronic HIV, executive function, psychosocial adjustment and quality of life in Ugandan school-aged children – A study of long-term functional survival with perinatal HIV infection and exposure.

Watsamon Jantarabenjakul (Thailand): Neurodevelopmental and neuroanatomical outcomes in early antiretroviral treated young children with perinatally acquired HIV infection (PHIV) compared to age matched perinatally HIV exposed uninfected children (PHEU).

Gabriel Loni Ekali (Cameroon): Impact of in utero and breastfeeding exposure to TDF on renal function in HIV exposed uninfected children in Cameroon.

McNeil Ngongondo (Malawi): A pharmacokinetic evaluation of TDF and ATV exposure in HIV exposed breastfeeding infants of mothers taking TDF/3TC/ATV/r.

Dorina Onoya (South Africa): Understanding predictors of early antenatal care initiation and patterns of postpartum maternal mobility in relation to paediatric HIV diagnosis and linkage to HIV care in Gauteng province, South Africa.

Latoya Small (US): VUKA EKHAYA - A take home family intervention to improve adherence and reduce behavioural risk among perinatally HIV infected youth.

Louis-Marie Yindom (Cameroon): HIV associated chronic lung disease (CLD) in older vertically infected children and adolescents: studies of aetiology and predictive biomarkers.