Despite advances in the treatment of chronic viral hepatitis B and C, the persistence and the emergence of other hepatitis viruses continues to remain a public health challenge in the U.S. Currently, it is estimated that 3.5 to 5.3 million people in the U.S are afflicted by viral hepatitis. Even with advances in medical care, 12,000 to 15,000 Americans succumb to the complications of acute or chronic viral hepatitis each year.
In 2010, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) released a report highlighting viral hepatitis as a national health concern and outlined the barriers hindering healthcare delivery for viral hepatitis patients. As a result of the IOM report, HHS generated a “Viral Hepatitis Action Plan” on how to respond to the public health implications of acute and chronic viral hepatitis.
This year NIH issued Funding Opportunity Announcement (PA-12-091) titled “New Technologies for Viral Hepatitis STTR”. The funding is to encourage Small Business Innovation Research (STTR) and have small businesses respond with research ideas to the HHS “Viral Hepatitis Action Plan”.
STTR grant applicants for the NIH Funding Opportunity Announcement are encouraged to submit ideas on developing resources, research tools, instrumentations, biomarkers, devices, drugs, or submit new and innovative approaches to diagnosing, monitoring, managing, treating, and preventing viral hepatitis and viral hepatitis associated liver disease.
The STTR program has been in place for a number of years. Each year, federal agencies with extramural R&D budgets that exceed $1 billion are required to reserve 0.3 percent of their extramural research budget for STTR awards to small businesses. In doing this, the agencies designate R&D topics in their solicitations and then accept proposals.
Five agencies including DOD, DOE, HHS, NASA, and NSF are involved in the STTR program to expand funding opportunities in R&D and to use public and private sector partnerships to include joint venture opportunities with small businesses.
The total funding may not exceed $150,000 for Phase I awards and $1,000,000 for Phase II awards. The earliest submission for proposals was March 5, 2012 with final proposals due January 2015. Go to http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/pa-files/PA-12-091.html for more information.