Science and Engineering Research Board calls for COVID-19 research: Apply by March 30

Health Minister K. K. Shailaja and other officials sending off the medical team

The Science and Engineering Research Board (SERB), a statutory body established through an Act of Parliament, has invited proposal for specifically designed scheme for COVID-19 and related respiratory viral infections, under ‘Intensification of Research in High Priority Areas’ (IRHPA). The scheme will be for a 3-year duration.

The scheme has been announced in the backdrop of lack of an efficacious vaccine and lack of availability of suitable chemotherapeutic interventions, to the current coronavirus outbreak and due to the urgent need to ramp up national R&D efforts for new antivirals, vaccines and affordable diagnostics.

Academic and research institutions are encouraged to submit competitive proposals having a strong interdisciplinary component between chemists, biologists, virologists, immunologists, and clinicians, in the following areas (i) New or repurposed antivirals against valid viral targets; viricidal coatings; etc. (ii) Affordable diagnostics for symptomatic and asymptomatic respiratory viral infections (iii) Investigational vaccines against respiratory viruses (iv) Development of disease models for respiratory viral infections (v) Studies on immune response and immunity during respiratory viral infections (vi) Epidemiology of COVID and other respiratory viral infections

Scientists from Universities, their affiliated Colleges, IITs, IISERs, IISc., and other Autonomous Research Institutions along with scientists working in the industrial R&D sector in India can submit a proposal under this scheme.

One of the participating institutions should have access to BSL-3 and above facilities, along with expertise of handling respiratory viruses as per WHO/Govt. of India protocols.

It is desirable to bring technical partnerships and collaborative know-how from biotech and pharmaceutical companies.

The project should be set up around established research groups led by a Principal Investigator (PI) with at least two co-PIs of complementary expertise from different departments / institutes to transform the program truly interdisciplinary and multi institutional. The duration of the project is 3 years for COVID-19.

The proposal should be submitted online only, through the website The format, guidelines and other details of the scheme are available in the same website. No hard copy of the proposal will be accepted.

The component of grant is similar to other project submitted to SERB. However, the amount of grant is slightly higher than regular projects. The host institute should have a sustainability plan to continue the research activities beyond the normal duration of 3 years. Commitment of the Institute should be specified in the proposal.

The proposals submitted for support are peer reviewed by the experts in the area through the Expert Committees constituted for the purpose. The recommendations of the Committees are placed before the Empowered Committees for its consideration. The SERB Board takes its final decision. The sanctioned projects will be monitored through Management Advisory Committee constituted for this purpose.

Proposals should be submitted at (through ‘Funding Opportunities ‘Intensification of Research in High Priority Areas (IRHPA))’, as per SERB-IRHPA format by 5 pm on March 30, 2020.

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