Serological Sciences Network for COVID-19 (SeroNet)
Congressional legislation enacted in response to the COVID-19 pandemic includes an emergency appropriation of $306 million to NCI “to develop, validate, improve, and implement serological testing and associated technologies.” Serological testing is the process of measuring a person’s immune response to an infection in the form of antibodies in the blood.
The goal of the appropriation to NCI is to address the urgent need to increase our understanding of the immune response to the novel coronavirus. NCI intends to use the emergency appropriation in part to establish a Serological Sciences Network (SeroNet). The network is being developed in close collaboration with the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and other parts of NIH and the Department of Health and Human Services.
SeroNet is planned to include five components:
- Serological Sciences Centers of Excellence
- Individual research projects in serological sciences
- Serological Capacity Building Centers, which will either acquire or develop serology tests and then validate the tests, while also fostering expanded serology capacity
- Special projects at the HPV Serology Lab at the NCI-sponsored Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research (FNLCR)
- A Serological Sciences Coordinating Center at FNLCR
NCI solicited input from the biomedical research community on serological sciences through a Request for Information (RFI) to help develop research priorities for serological research and related technologies to address COVID-19. The responses to the RFI were incorporated into the design of the technological and scientific scope of SeroNet.
NCI released two Requests for Applications (RFAs) for components of SeroNet in June:
- SARS-CoV-2 Serological Sciences Centers of Excellence: 4–8 U54 cooperative agreements
- Research Projects in SARS-CoV-2 Serological Sciences: 5–10 U01 cooperative agreements
Applications for both RFAs were due July 22, 2020. It is anticipated that awards will be announced in late September.
NCI also issued a Request for Proposals (RFP) for the establishment of Serological Sciences Network Capacity Building Centers that was open until July 16.