Understanding the Epidemiology of Syphilis in the United States

Funding Agency:
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention

Reported primary and secondary syphilis cases and case rates increased by 40% between 2010 and 2014, and reported congenital syphilis cases and case rates increased by nearly 20% between 2010 and 2014. Gay, bisexual, and other men who have sex with men (MSM) are disproportionately impacted by syphilis. CDC convened a consultation of 140 experts in the field of syphilis and syphilis prevention from academia and public health in January, 2016. A number of knowledge gaps were identified at the consultation. This FOA is an attempt to address some of the knowledge gaps where more needs to be known to improve the public health response to syphilis.

Understanding the complexities of the epidemiology of syphilis among MSM beyond the individual level is critical to the development of effective interventions. This activity will explore the potential role of sexual and social networks in MSM syphilis epidemics and how these networks interact to transmit syphilis in a population, including repeated syphilis infection in individuals. Applicants will be funded to establish and follow a cohort of MSM at high risk for syphilis. Using appropriate sampling methodologies, successful applicants will establish criteria for identification of MSM at high risk for syphilis for recruitment. Enrolled participants will then be followed quarterly for 2 years. At follow-up visits, study participants will complete behavioral questionnaires and be screened for syphilis, chlamydia, gonorrhea, and HIV (if not already known to be HIV infected). Sexual and social networks will be enumerated at each study visit, as well as health care seeking behavior and sources of routine medical care. Serologic specimens will be collected for determination of incident and repeat infections.

 Only one application per institution (normally identified by having a unique DUNS number) is allowed. 


  • Duke Internal Deadline: Oct. 11, 2016
  • Letter of Intent: Oct. 29, 2016
  • Application: Nov. 30, 2016

Agency Website



Amount Description

The estimated total funding (direct and indirect) for the first year (12-month budget period) is $2,500,000 with individual awards estimated to be $500,000.

The estimated total funding (direct and indirect) for the entire project period for all awards is $7,500,000.

Funding Type





Medical - Basic Science
Medical - Clinical Science
Social Sciences

Internal Nomination

Owing to the sponsor's restriction on the number of applications that may be submitted from Duke, anyone wishing to pursue nomination should submit the following materials as one PDF.

* A letter of support from dean or chair - 1 to 1.5 pages
* Project summary - 2 to 4 pages
* CV or Biosketch of project leader

Applicants will need to submit internal materials through My Research Proposal.(Code ILN) https://www.grantinterface.com/Common/LogOn.aspx?eqs=ApVvmgXCk2Uj7AzWyDEJKQ2

Instructions for setting up your account and uploading internal applications can be found here: https://ors.duke.edu/sites/default/files/Applicant Instructions_FINAL.pdf

Internal Deadline

October 11, 2016

External Deadline

November 30, 2016