History of the CAVD
In the 25 years since HIV was identified, several vaccine candidates have been tested in humans, yet none have elicited the protective immune response needed to guard against infection.
Numerous vaccine candidates have been tested in humans, including two candidates that advanced through preclinical and early clinical trials only to fail in large-scale Phase III trials involving thousands of volunteers.
Vaccines strategies that were successful in preventing other diseases such as polio, small pox, and hepatitis B have failed when matched against HIV, a virus that compromises the immune system.
Given the expensive and highly visible failures, pharmaceutical companies became reluctant to take on HIV vaccine research and US federal funding was one of the few remaining sources of significant research dollars.
In the early 2000’s the HIV vaccine research community looked inward to find ways to improve the process of vaccine discovery. Science and policy leaders realized that the piecemeal approach to HIV vaccine discovery was insufficient to meet the challenges of developing an HIV vaccine.
These scientists, policy leaders, advocates, and funders realized that the best chance of developing such a vaccine would come from a coordinated and collaborative approach that could harness the collective strengths of vaccine researchers and developers worldwide. The evolution of this new approach was laid out in an article published in June 2003 in the journal Science. In the article, 24 leaders in HIV research called for the establishment of a Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise, an international alliance of researchers, funders, and advocates dedicated to accelerating HIV vaccine development.
The Global HIV Vaccine Enterprise called for the development of a scientific strategic plan that would guide HIV vaccine research. It also called for the mobilization of significant new financial resources and greater collaboration so that researchers could share results and avoid duplication of effort.
The Enterprise’s initial Scientific Strategic Plan, released in February 2005, outlined key areas in vaccine research and development where attention needed to be focused. Of the six priority areas outlined in the plan, two of the top priorities were vaccine discovery and laboratory standardization. (Additional information about the Enterprise is available at
The Gates Foundation is committed to funding HIV vaccine development in accordance with Enterprise principles. In 2005 the Foundation began requesting proposals for research projects that adhered to the collaborative philosophy articulated by the Enterprise. The Foundation focused on three priorities identified in the Enterprise Plan: the rational design of immunogens capable of inducing broadly reactive neutralizing antibodies; the rational design of immunogens capable of inducing persistent high levels of T-cell immunity; and the creation of a robust global infrastructure of facilities that could develop, expand, and ensure broad access to laboratory assays and technologies that allow valid comparisons of data across pre-clinical and clinical trials worldwide. As proposals were received, it became clear that additional areas of expertise were needed: statistical analysis and mouse modeling, and an infrastructure for preserving and sharing the materials generated under these grants
On July 19, 2006 the Gates Foundation announced the creation of an international network of highly collaborative research consortia focused on accelerating the pace of HIV vaccine development. The Foundation awarded 16 grants totaling $287 million as part of a new Collaboration for AIDS Vaccine Discovery. In 2011-2012, the Foundation has since awarded seven additional grants to be included in the CAVD, for a total of $355 million to fund 23 consortia. Since then, the CAVD has grown to include an additional $99 million in grants to 13 new consortia.
See About the Grantees...