Solicitations - C-THAN

2019 Award Competition: Development of Point-Of-Care Testing for HIV and Co-Morbidities for Use in Low and Middle Income Countries

CHICAGO, IL – The Center for Innovation in Point-of-Care Technologies for HIV/AIDS at Northwestern University (C-THAN) seeks collaborative research projects to develop novel point-of-care technologies (POCT) aimed at improving diagnosis and treatment monitoring of HIV/AIDS in low- and middle-income countries (LMIC). If successful, projects should be viable candidates for commercial development.


The United Nations’ Program on HIV and AIDS (UNAIDS) set the ambitious 90-90-90 goals to achieve detection of 90% of HIV cases, 90% of those cases on treatment, and 90% of those treated to have viral suppression by 2020. To achieve these critical goals, we need to use the most powerful robust and cost-effective tools available including highly sensitive and specific field-ready diagnostics to improve care retention and clinical outcomes for people living with HIV/AIDS (PLWH). Adding services for HIV related co-morbidities such as POC tests for tuberculosis, hepatitis and AIDS-associated cancers through the same clinic network could improve outcomes and potentially reduce costs.

The focus of this solicitation is to develop POCTs that address one or more of the AIDS Office of Research High Priority Research Topics. The requirements for the test are summarized in the table below.

Design requirements for POCTs

The proposed project must focus on a specific need of PLWH in LMICs settings and must show promise for improved health outcomes. Relevant technologies that will be considered for funding include, but are not limited to, in vitro diagnostic assays or technologies, treatment-related diagnostic technologies, technologies that can be self-administered, and/or technologies that improve or enable POC test performance. Microfluidic and nanotechnology platforms that are capable of multiplex testing to measure multiple analytes are welcomed. 

Eligible applications must:

  • Be based upon a working prototype (for new technologies) or an existing device (which will serve as the base for adaptation)
  • Generate preliminary data to demonstrate its potential for detection, diagnosis, or treatment guidance for HIV and/or its co-morbidities in LMICs
  • Demonstrate feasibility or usability for a chosen clinical need comparable to existing technologies/devices/assays in clinical practice.

General characteristics: usable for patient management in LMIC clinic conditions, non- to minimally-invasive, low cost (the cost of test should be comparable to or lower than the local median daily income, the local cost of HIV medication dose, etc.) user friendly (can be operated by health care workers that receive local training in its operation and maintenance.)

Specific attributes: portability, operable in locations with limited or no medical infrastructure (limited access to electricity, land-line communication, refrigeration or central water supply)

C-THAN is also receptive to proposals from industry with commercially available testing devices that have not been optimized to address the requirements listed above.  The application must detail the limitations of the currently available system relative to use in LMIC or in HIV/AIDS priority topics and describe the proposed approach to resolution of these limitations.

Application Instructions

Point-of-Care Technology award applications are solicited and evaluated in two stages. Applicants must submit pre-proposals (called Expressions of Interest), which will undergo review by C-THAN, National Institute of Biomedical Imaging and Bioengineering (NIBIB), and Fogarty International Center (FIC) scientific staff. A subset of the applicants who submitted pre-proposals will be invited to submit full proposals. Further details are provided below.

  • Applications from all sources will be considered including domestic or foreign, public or private, nonprofit or for-profit. Applicants from LMIC either independently or in collaboration with developers in high resource countries are encouraged to apply. Awards under this solicitation may be made only to NIH-eligible applicants. Details regarding specific requirements can be found in the NIH Grants Policy Statement Part II: Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards.
  • Pre-proposals must be submitted through the POCTRN online system and are due no later than 11:59pm CST on Friday, March 1, 2019.
  • The anticipated performance period is twelve months.
  • Awards will be up to $100,000 combined direct and indirect costs. Indirect costs will be provided at your institution’s Federally-negotiated rate. We expect to make 3-4 awards.
  • Point-of-Care Technology Awards Review Criteria will guide the selection of full proposals.
  • Applicants will be notified by Friday, March 15, 2019 as to whether they are invited to submit a full proposal.
  • Invitations will be sent by email both to the PI and to the administrative contact listed in the pre-proposal. Invited full proposals must be received by 11:59pm CST Wednesday, May 15th, 2019.
  • Proposals must be submitted through the web-based proposal submission system. Instructions for navigating and completing the full-proposal submission system will be sent with the notification to individuals from whom full proposals are requested. 
  • Each full proposal will be peer-reviewed on a confidential basis. All applicants will be informed of review decisions by July 15, 2019.

C-THAN Contact: Sally McFall, Ph.D., Director of Technology Development/Refinement Core 

About C-THAN
C-THAN was funded in 2018 for a five-year period by the NIBIB, Point-of-Care Technologies Research Network (POCTRN), FIC and the Office of AIDS Research. C-THAN’s mission is to support the development and facilitate commercialization of a pipeline of POCT designed to meet the clinical needs of people who live with HIV/AIDS in LMIC.

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