amfAR, The Foundation for AIDS Research

Grant Application and Peer Review Process

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amfAR receives hundreds of proposals each year from researchers around the world, and funds the highest quality projects.

In evaluating these proposals, amfAR employs a peer review process modeled closely on those used by other major scientific research institutions, including the National Institutes of Health. The scientific peer review process ensures the quality and relevance of research activities, and helps maintain the scientific objectivity and credibility of the grant-making program.

amfAR’s Scientific Advisory Committee (SAC) reviews proposed research projects based on their relevance, scientific merit, and promise. This volunteer group includes some of the nation’s most respected scientists with expertise in the field of HIV/AIDS and has helped guide the Foundation in investing more than $307 million in its programs, including support for more than 2,000 research teams.

amfAR’s grant-making process begins when the Foundation issues a formal request for proposals (RFP), which is distributed to thousands of researchers worldwide. General RFPs allow amfAR to identify promising new ideas on the cutting edge of HIV/AIDS research; targeted RFPs are designed to elicit applications from scientists working in areas that have been deemed critically important by amfAR’s Program Advisory Council and Scientific Advisory Committee.

Investigators are required to submit a pre-application letter of intent (LOI). Any postdoctoral investigator who is affiliated with a nonprofit institution may submit an LOI.

LOIs are reviewed by members of the SAC and full grant applications are solicited from those investigators whose LOIs are most highly recommended.

Each full application is appraised in depth by three reviewers who present their findings to a panel of between 12 and 20 other members of the SAC.

This panel discusses the proposals—a process that allows for an interdisciplinary exchange of ideas—and scores them by confidential ballot. Proposals are prioritized for funding based on the reviewers’ average scores. Funding recommendations are presented to the Foundation’s Board of Trustees which has final authority for approving grant disbursements.

Both LOIs and proposals are evaluated according to these criteria:

  • the scientific merit of the proposal
  • the degree of innovation in concept and design
  • the relevance of the research to the control of the epidemic or to the benefit of patients with AIDS or AIDS-related conditions
  • the qualifications, experience, and productivity of the investigator(s)
  • the facilities available
  • the likelihood of success.

In addition to the expertise of the reviewers and the cooperative nature of the process, confidentiality and the avoidance of any conflict of interest are critical components of peer review.

All RFPs are posted on this website. For more information about amfAR’s grant application process, please contact:

Grants Administration Department
120 Wall St., 13th Fl.
New York, NY 10005-3908
Fax: (212) 806-1601