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Targeted Request for Applications


RFA: Elucidating the Role of Viruses in Initiating and Driving Pathologies in Multiple Sclerosis

RELEASED March 21, 2023 
The National MS Society is pleased to announce the release of a new Request for Applications focusing on Elucidating the Role of Viruses in Initiating and Driving Pathologies in Multiple Sclerosis intended to support research that advances our Pathways to Cures Roadmap. 

This RFA is open to not-for-profit academic research institutions worldwide. Collaborations with commercial organizations are allowed.
Purpose of this RFA
This concept proposes to use a Request for Applications funding mechanism to solicit pilot research proposals that address Pathways to Cures by exploring the interplay between viruses and Multiple Sclerosis (MS). Of particular interest is defining mechanisms through which viruses may contribute to the initiation or course of disease pathologies in people with MS. The pilot mechanism is intended to support the generation of preliminary data, feasibility studies, and tool development to position the recipient to successfully apply for future longer-term funding of novel and impactful research in this area. Full studies that can be completed within the pilot budget and timeframe are also welcome.
This initiative will support pilot projects that:
  1. Address knowledge gaps around how viruses can lead to the initiation of MS
  2. Study how viral infections and antiviral responses exacerbate autoimmune responses in MS
Areas of specific interest may include, but are not limited to:
• Assessment of how viral immune responses affect neuroinflammation and demyelination in MS
• Analysis of immune cell modulation driven by an active or latent viral infection
• The impact of viral infection on demyelination or nervous system repair
• Evaluation of anti-viral strategies on the pathologies and progression of MS • Characterization of novel preclinical models of neuroinflammation with a viral component
• Feasibility study of potential approaches for an EBV vaccine trial
•Analysis of high-dimensional data sets to characterize viral-driven effects in neuroinflammation

Areas NOT supported by this RFA include:
• High throughput screens of viral sequences or peptides associated with disease onset or relapse
• Studies of JCV or DMT-induced PML
• Studies of COVID-associated exacerbation of MS disease pathologies
• Studies focusing on viral biology or lifecycle without connection to MS disease pathogenicity
• Incremental extensions of ongoing research projects without new methods or approaches

Funding: Up to $100,000 USD direct costs for up to 12 months of support will be provided and must be justified based on the scientific work plan. Eligibility
Applicants should possess an M.D., Ph.D. or equivalent and be considered eligible by their institution to apply for grant support. Postdoctoral fellows, residents and other trainees are not eligible to apply.

A brief pre-application is required to determine if a proposal is aligned with the objectives of the RFA. Potential applicants are strongly encouraged to consult with Society scientific staff prior to submitting a proposal (see contact information below). Upon review of pre-applications by staff, applicants proposing work that is aligned with the RFA objectives will be invited to submit full applications.

NEW Deadlines:
• Pre-applications will be accepted beginning: March 21, 2023
• Final date for acceptance of pre-applications: May 10, 2023 | 5:00 pm Eastern Time
• Final date for receipt of full applications: May 17, 2023 | 5:00 pm Eastern Time​

Applicants are encouraged to contact research staff for more information about this RFA:
James Quinn, PhD
Director, Biomedical Research


© 2023 The National Multiple Sclerosis Society is a tax exempt 501(c)3 nonprofit organization. Its Identification Number (EIN) is 13-5661935.