CLAUDE D. PEPPER OLDER AMERICANS INDEPENDENCE CENTERS

RELEASE DATE:  August 21, 2003

RFA Number:  RFA-AG-04-002 (This RFA has been reissued, see RFA-AG-06-001)

Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)

PARTICIPATING ORGANIZATIONS:
National Institutes of Health (NIH)
 (http://www.nih.gov)

COMPONENTS OF PARTICIPATING ORGANIZATIONS:
National Institute on Aging (NIA) 
 (http://www.nia.nih.gov)

CATALOG OF FEDERAL DOMESTIC ASSISTANCE NUMBER:  93.866

LETTER OF INTENT RECEIPT DATE:  November 17, 2003

APPLICATION RECEIPT DATE:  December 17, 2003 

THIS RFA CONTAINS THE FOLLOWING INFORMATION

o  Purpose of this RFA
o  Research Objectives
o  Mechanism of Support
o  Funds Available
o  Eligible Institutions
o  Individuals Eligible to Become Principal Investigators
o  Special Requirements
o  Where to Send Inquiries
o  Letter of Intent
o  Submitting an Application
o  Supplementary Instructions
o  Peer Review Process
o  Review Criteria
o  Receipt and Review Schedule
o  Award Criteria
o  Required Federal Citations

PURPOSE OF THIS RFA

The general goal of the Claude D. Pepper Older Americans Independence Centers 
(OAIC) program is to increase scientific knowledge that will lead to better 
ways to maintain or restore independence in older persons.  Specifically, 
NIA's goal for the OAIC program is to develop or strengthen awardee 
institutions' programs that focus, and sustain progress, on a key aging 
research area. The means by which the OAIC program seeks to achieve this goal 
is provision of resources to institutions to help them address key research 
problems, technologic limitations, and needs for trained researchers, on 
issues in which progress could contribute to greater independence for older 
persons.

RESEARCH OBJECTIVES

NIA's objective for the OAIC program is development or strengthening of 
awardee institutions' programs that focus, and sustain progress, on key aging 
research areas, leading toward interventions that increase or maintain 
independence for older persons. NIA's goal is that an OAIC, in a given area 
of focus, will:

o  Provide intellectual leadership and innovation;

o  Stimulate translation between basic and clinical research, e.g., research 
to develop or test interventions or diagnostic tests based on new findings 
from basic aging research or other basic research, or studies to improve 
understanding of mechanisms contributing to clinical or functional findings; 

o  Facilitate and develop novel multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary 
research strategies;

o  Stimulate incorporation of emerging technologies, methods and scientific 
advances into research designs as appropriate;

o  Serve as a source of advice and collaboration to other institutions 
regarding technology, methodology, analysis, or other expertise and

o  Provide career development for future research leaders.

An OAIC should be designed to promote a sustained research program in its 
area of focus, through which the center will accomplish the innovation, 
leadership, collaborative, and career development functions described above.  
Thus, identifying one or more important research areas to be addressed, 
specifying goals to be achieved within the five-year OAIC award period, and 
providing a plan to reach these goals, together with a method to evaluate 
progress toward these goals during the course of the OAIC award, are crucial 
to the design of an OAIC.  The selection of Core activities (see below) 
should follow from these considerations. An OAIC may select areas of research 
focus from a broad range of topics, including:

o  Aging–related issues concerning a specific condition contributing to loss 
of independence in older persons, e.g., role of aging changes in the etiology 
of the condition, special issues in the diagnosis, treatment or prevention of 
the condition in old age; complications, disability, or symptoms from the 
condition found principally in older persons.

o  Causes, assessment, prevention, treatment (including rehabilitation) of a 
specific type of disability in older persons.

o  Causes, prevention and treatment of a geriatric syndrome (e.g., 
involuntary weight loss, dizziness, incontinence) that is related to multiple 
pathologies and/or disabilities.

o  Specific aging-related physiologic changes, other risk factors, and/or 
interventions (e.g., physical activity) that affect risk for multiple 
conditions or disabilities in old age. 

o  Interactions of multiple diseases, disabilities, and interventions (e.g., 
medications) in older persons, and their relationship to risk of morbidity, 
progression of disability, and efficacy of prevention or treatment 
strategies. 

o  Factors contributing to amelioration or delay of multiple deleterious 
aging changes by modulating risk factors or fundamental aging mechanisms.  

OAICs may define their selected areas of focus either broadly or narrowly. 
For most of the types of research foci described above, each one has needs 
for a wide range of developmental and infrastructure activities. These 
activities are likely to be interdependent and synergistic. This implies that 
an OAIC strategy of selecting several key activities that address a selected 
focus may have unique benefits.  Since the level of funding available to an 
individual OAIC is unlikely to allow such a set of activities for more than 
one focus area, applicants are strongly encouraged to focus their proposed 
OAIC on one research area, selecting an area in which their strengths allow 
their OAIC to fulfill NIA's goal for the OAIC program stated above. 
Institutions with strong research programs in more than one area may propose 
an OAIC with more than one area of focus but, if so, should propose, for each 
of these areas, a set of activities that will fulfill this goal. OAICs in 
such institutions may also support a limited amount of activities in their 
cores (see below) on topics other than their area(a) of focus, to capitalize 
on important new research opportunities or to address unexpected needs for 
career development support within their institutions.  Applicants who 
anticipate providing such support should describe their proposed system for 
identifying these opportunities and needs, and selecting core activities to 
address them.

Whether one or more than one focus area is selected, the total impact of the 
OAIC's activities on progress in the selected field(s), should be a major 
criterion in selecting them, and will be a major criterion in peer review and 
program evaluation.

An OAIC may provide support to a variety of types of research in its area(s) 
of focus:

o  testing of prevention, intervention, diagnostic, or functional assessment 
techniques.

o  translational research (including mechanistic studies), experimental 
therapeutic studies in laboratory animals, studies in animal models.

o  technology or methods development research.

To accomplish the program goals, OAIC awards will provide support for the 
following types of activities:

Research Cores (RCs) will provide resources to (a) enhance or support 
projects funded primarily by other mechanisms, and (b) develop and validate 
model systems (e.g., animal models), methods, assays, analytic techniques, 
and equipment, as well as diagnostic, assessment and survey instruments to 
advance aging research. 

A Research Career Development Core (RCDC) will support career development 
activities and infrastructure, including salary, fringe benefits, travel, and 
didactic training for junior faculty who are conducting pilot studies, 
developmental projects or working on independently funded projects.

A Pilot/Exploratory Studies Core (P/EC) will support research to acquire 
information needed to select or design future crucial studies in the OAIC 
area of focus.

A Leadership and Administrative Core (LAC) will support research planning and 
evaluation activities for the Cores, the OAIC as a whole, and other 
administrative activities.

As noted above, while most of the research receiving support from RCs, the 
P/E C, and the RCDC should be focused in areas selected as the OAIC research 
theme(s), a limited amount of support in these Cores is acceptable for topics 
in other areas of aging research related to the goals of the NIA OAIC 
program, to capitalize on unanticipated research opportunities or to address 
unexpected needs for career development support within their institutions.

All OAICs must support a significant amount of clinical research with human 
subjects in their cores. However, it is not required that every core support 
studies on human subjects. Support for animal, and in vitro studies is also 
appropriate.  Proposed OAICs should not include major foci on neurosciences 
(with the exception of rehabilitation) or behavioral and social sciences, as 
these are more appropriate for other NIA programs that also use the Center 
mechanism.

Research Core(s).

Each Research Core (RC) should be based on a research field or function that 
contributes to the OAIC area(s) of focus.  These cores may be defined in 
terms of a biomedical or biotechnology field (e.g., clinical trials, 
endocrinology, geriatric assessment, bioengineering), a service function 
(e.g., subject recruitment and retention, pathology, genotyping), or a supply 
function (e.g., animals).  A minimum of one RC is a required for an OAIC 
application. Though applicants are strongly encouraged to consider the full 
range of disciplines, technologies, methodologies, services, and resources 
that could be brought to bear on their selected area(s) of focus, there is no 
requirement that an OAIC Research Core include this full range.  The 
selection of areas for Research Cores should be made on the basis of their 
contribution to the overall goals of the OAIC. A clear statement of how the 
cores will enhance the scientific productivity of the projects and assist the 
center investigators to realize the OAIC objectives for its area of focus 
must be provided.

RCs should provide services to enhance and integrate the scientific 
contributions of basic and/or clinical research projects relevant to the OAIC 
focus, whose support is independent of the OAIC (R01, P01, U01, non-NIH). 
They may also provide services for development studies that are part of the 
RC (see below) and for pilot/exploratory studies included in the P/E C (see 
below).  In general, it is expected that RCs will interact with, and provide 
expertise in the design, conduct, and analysis of results from the studies 
they support, as well as provide technical services or products. Hence, 
support for professional staff time for such interactions is encouraged where 
appropriate.

Applicants should not propose a Research Core unless it will support at least 
two projects. The evaluation of the justification for proposed cores by peer 
reviewers will include consideration of the scientific merit of the core. 
Routine patient care costs may not be requested, but research-related patient 
care costs are eligible for support.  In designing cores, applicants are 
strongly encouraged to consider the full range of disciplines, technologies, 
methodologies, services, and resources that could be applied to their 
selected area(s) of focus.

Examples of possible RCs include:

o  Recruitment/screening/assessment/registry units for subjects in clinical 
research protocols, including clinical trials.

o  Diagnostic and pathophysiologic units for studies of mechanisms of 
treatment response and interactions with disease.

o  Basic science laboratories providing assays or other measures of cellular, 
molecular, or biochemical factors for clinical or basic studies.

o  Biostatistical/data management units.

o  Cost-effectiveness analysis units.

o  Units for the support of laboratory animals used in aging research and the 
development of animal models of age-associated diseases.

In addition to the support of services to other projects, RCs may directly 
conduct a limited amount of technology, resource and/or methods development 
projects, (referred to below as Development Projects) for activities such as: 

o  Development or preliminary testing of new data acquisition methods or 
technologies, assays, materials, or instruments to assess their feasibility 
and potential to provide important information, relevant to the OAIC focus, 
that is not available or less feasibly obtained with current methods.  The 
range of approaches in which such projects may be conducted includes, 
genetic, molecular, biochemical, engineering, imaging, clinical diagnostic, 
functional assessment, bioinformatics, and survey methods.

o  Development and testing of new data analytic and computational strategies 
to allow more informative results from studies in the OAIC area of focus.

o  Preliminary evaluation of new animal models for relevant age-related 
outcomes.

Such activities must be justified in terms of the overall goals of the OAIC.  
A proposed RC may request support of up to $105,000 (direct costs) per year 
for development projects. Specific developmental projects to be conducted by 
an RC using these funds may last from one to five years. Development studies 
which challenge existing paradigms or develop new methodologies or 
technologies are highly valued. The first year of development activities to 
be performed using these funds should be described in detail, clearly 
delineating the approach taken for developing and testing the new methods or 
analytic approaches, and discussing how the results will be analyzed.  
Planned developmental activities for subsequent years must be reviewed by the 
OAIC internal and external review mechanisms (see Leadership Core section).  
NIA requires that programs be notified when a pilot grant award is made.  
This can be done at the time of the progress report.

The above list is not intended to describe the full range of activities to be 
supported, nor to direct applicants towards these areas. Innovative 
organizational approaches are encouraged for each Research Core proposed, a 
core leader should be named, and plans for the scientific and administrative 
functioning must be presented. The method for prioritizing access to core 
resources requested by multiple projects should be described.  Salary and 
other expenses for the core leader and administrative staff may be requested.
Research Career Development Core

A Research Career Development Core (RCDC) is a required component of an OAIC. 
The RCDC should be led by a scientist with experience in research training 
and a history of successful mentoring.

The OAIC program's goal for RCDCs is to promote the development of future 
research leaders in the OAIC area of focus, particularly leaders who can 
integrate clinical insights regarding health, disease, independence, and 
disability in old age with knowledge of advances in the basic sciences, 
including gerontology, to develop better interventions to maintain health and 
independence.

To help reach this goal, the RCDC will provide salary and other support for 
junior faculty and research associates to acquire research abilities in the 
area of the OAIC focus.  Specifically, the Research Career Development Core 
will provide support for salary, didactic training, travel, information 
resources, and secretarial or technical support. Junior faculty and research 
associates who receive RCDC support may also receive funding for 
pilot/exploratory studies (see Pilot/Exploratory Studies Core below). Support 
for salaries and other expenses of the RCDC Core Leader, who will be 
responsible for coordination, oversight, and reporting of the above 
activities, and support staff may be requested. 

The RCDC's career development plans for at least some of the junior faculty 
and research associates to be supported should provide for the development of 
combined competence in basic and clinical research, either by enhancing 
clinical research experience of basic scientists, basic research experience 
of clinical investigators, or providing a combination of the two. An emphasis 
on development of skills for translating basic findings into clinical 
research, and clinical findings into mechanistic studies, is encouraged. 
OAICs should consider the extent of previous training of individual 
candidates for OAIC RCDC support with regard to the goal of developing 
researchers with combined expertise in clinical and basic research, including 
aging research, in deciding on the nature and extent of didactic training and 
research activities for which they request support for particular 
individuals.

At least some of the junior faculty and research associates selected for 
support through the RDC should hold a clinical doctoral degree. A particular 
program priority is the development of strong aging-related research 
capabilities in individuals with clinical geriatrics competence, as evidenced 
by Board certification of qualifications in geriatrics. (Such individuals 
include both those whose sole fellowship training is in geriatrics, as well 
as those who have received training in both geriatrics and another clinical 
specialty.)  Though the inclusion of such individuals among those receiving 
RCDC support is not a requirement for OAICs, applicants are strongly 
encouraged to explore possibilities for recruiting and including such 
persons, and to coordinate their activities with clinical training programs 
at their institutions and others to encourage the development of individuals 
who have both training in geriatrics and research interests in the OAIC area 
of focus.

OAIC career development support for individuals supported through the RCDC 
should be integrated with other sources of career support that they may be 
receiving (e.g., NIH "K-series" career development awards, fellowship, non-
NIH career awards) in concerted programs for their development.

The OAIC proposal should identify the individuals selected for at least the 
first year of RCDC support, and should describe what their activities will 
be, and the nature of institutional commitments to the individuals' 
development.  A description of mentors' research activities (including a 
biographical sketch) and their commitments in training and supervising these 
individuals should also be provided.  The OAIC goals for the individual, 
career progression by the end of the OAIC award period should be described. 
The description should explain how the proposed use of OAIC funds (including 
funds for pilot/exploratory study funding if this is also proposed for the 
individual) will contribute to OAIC program goals for research career 
development in its selected research area. 

In addition OAICs should provide a plan for their strategy, over the proposed 
OAIC award period, of recruiting, selecting, mentoring, and monitoring the 
progress of individuals who will receive RCDC support, and describe the 
abilities they expect recipients of this support to acquire.  This plan 
should include provision for peer review of proposals for provision of RCDC 
salary support to junior faculty. At least one third of these peer reviewers 
should be from outside the awardee institution. Special attention should be 
paid to the recruitment of minority candidates for career development 
activities. Attention to issues of health disparities is highly valued by the 
program. 

A maximum of $400,000 in first-year direct costs may be requested for the 
Research Career Development Core. Budget increments in future years will 
generally be limited to one percent.

Pilot/Exploratory Studies Core 

OAICs may conduct pilot/exploratory studies to acquire information needed to 
select or design future crucial studies in the OAIC area of focus. These 
studies may be led by junior faculty and research associates receiving OAIC 
Research Career Development Core support, or by other senior or junior 
investigators.  A scientist responsible for leadership of this core must be 
named.

Funding for pilot/exploratory studies may be for 

o  preliminary testing of an intervention or other research protocol in 
humans or animals for safety, feasibility, or determination of optimal time 
course or dosage

o  analysis of data acquired in ongoing or previous studies to explore 
hypotheses that may guide the selection and design of future studies

The above examples are not exhaustive of the types of pilot/exploratory 
studies that could be supported. 

A maximum of $250,000 in direct first-year costs may be requested for the 
Pilot/Exploratory Studies Core.  

Pilot/Exploratory Studies

Applicants may propose up to five P/E studies in the first year.  The minimum 
budget request for such studies is $25,000 for each study in first year 
direct costs.  Each of these projects is limited to no more than $150,000 
(direct costs) over its entire period of support, which should be for no more 
than three years.  (Thus, there is an inverse relationship between the amount 
of yearly support and the duration of the project.)  Increments in future 
years will generally be limited to one percent.

Present these projects and budgets for the 01 year of the proposal.  These 
studies must be prepared on the 5/01 revision of the PHS 398 application 
(http://grants.nih.gov/grants/forms.htm) package and included in the OAIC 
proposal.  However, the specific aims, background and significance, 
preliminary studies, and experimental design and methods sections should not 
exceed eight pages total for each study presented.  This is in addition to 
the 15 pages for the overall presentation of the P/E C.  Budgets for all 5 
years should be prepared.

Small Pilot/Exploratory Studies

Up to $50,000 of the $250,000 budget may be set aside for small studies (less 
than $10,000 each in first year direct costs).  Scientific presentations of 
these small studies should not be included in the proposal.  However, the 
method for the selection of these studies should be described.

Participating researchers in OAICs are also encouraged to consider seeking 
additional sources of funding for pilot or exploratory studies, such as the 
NIA Small Research Grant Program and NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research 
Grant Award  
(http://www.nia.nih.gov/GrantsAndTraining/FundingOpportunities/ResearchProjects.htm#r03).  
NIA requires that programs be notified when a pilot grant award is made.  
This can be done at the time of the progress report. 

Leadership and Administrative Core

The Leadership and Administrative Core (LAC) will provide support for 
planning, organizational, evaluation, and administrative activities relating 
to the other Cores and the OAIC as a whole. The LAC is responsible for 
monitoring, stimulating, sustaining, evaluating, and reporting progress 
toward the overall goals of the OAIC. 

Specifically, the LAC should conduct or organize the following activities:

o  Regular review of utilization of core resources by the other OAIC cores, 
and reallocation of resources within or among cores.

o  Assessment of scientific opportunities for new utilization of core 
resources, and planning to utilize them.  One topic that should routinely be 
assessed is the potential for translation between basic and clinical 
research, e.g., research to develop or test interventions or diagnostic tests 
based on new findings from basic aging research or other basic research, or 
studies to improve understanding of the mechanisms contributing to clinical 
or functional findings. 

o  Assessment of potential areas for collaboration among OAIC cores within 
the center, and with other OAICs or other projects, and planning for 
collaborative activities, if merited.

o  Review by an independent panel or panels of proposed  Developmental 
Projects (see Research Core(s); Pilot/Exploratory Studies; and salary support 
for specific junior faculty by the Research Career Development Core. 

The LAC may elect to convene a single panel or separate panels to conduct 
reviews of the above activities. Ad hoc reviewers to address specific 
projects may be used. On each panel, at least one third of the members should 
be external to the awardee institution.  Panels may meet in person or by 
teleconference.  

Additionally, active involvement in the following activities is required of 
the LAC.

o  Yearly review of progress toward the OAIC goals by an Advisory Panel 
external to the awardee institution, selected by the OAIC, subject to 
approval by NIA.  A report by this Panel of its review should be included in 
annual non-competing renewal applications. 

o  Preparation of information for a progress review by an external advisory 
board, selected and convened by NIA, at the conclusion of the second year of 
the OAIC award. (This board will review multiple OAICs.)

o  Preparation of administrative documents relating to the award

Additional activities for which the LAC may provide support include:

o  Research planning meetings (including participants from other 
institutions) and support for invited scientific presentations.

o  Travel expenses for OAIC staff to visit other OAICs for joint projects.

The membership of the required advisory panels should not be included in the 
application.  However, the operating procedures of these groups, including 
the frequency of their meetings and the methods for the identification of 
members should be specified. The Principal Investigator of the OAIC should be 
the Principal Investigator of the LAC, and should have sufficient expertise 
in the area of the OAIC's research focus to exercise effective scientific 
leadership and judgment.  

Up to $150,000 in direct costs per year may be requested for LAC activities.

MECHANISM OF SUPPORT

This RFA will use the NIH P30 award mechanism.  As an applicant you will be 
solely responsible for planning, directing, and executing the proposed 
project.  Although this RFA is a one-time solicitation NIA expects to re-
issue the RFA to allow either new applications to be paid or continuing 
competitive support to applications funded through this RFA. The anticipated 
award date is June 1, 2004.

Follow the instructions for non-modular budget research grant applications in 
the PHS 398 form (rev. 5/2001) 
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/phs398/phs398.html .  This program does 
not require cost sharing as defined in the current NIH Grants Policy 
Statement at http://grants.nih.gov/archive/grants/policy/nihgps_2001/part_i_1.htm.

FUNDS AVAILABLE

The NIA intends to commit approximately $3.5 million in FY 04 and $1.6 
million in FY 05 to fund 3 to 4 new and/or competitive continuation grants 
from the applications received in response to this RFA.  An applicant must 
request a project period of 5 years and may request a budget for total costs 
of up to $1.8 million per year.  Because the nature and scope of the proposed 
research will vary from application to application, it is anticipated that 
the size of each award will also vary.  Although the financial plans of the 
NIA provide support for this program, awards pursuant to this RFA are 
contingent upon the availability of funds and the receipt of a sufficient 
number of meritorious applications.  Budget increments for subsequent years 
generally will be limited to no more than one percent.  Awards are made 
initially for five years and may be renewed competitively for five-year 
periods.  It is anticipated that additional RFAs soliciting applications for 
OAICs will be issued as existing centers complete their 5-year award periods.

ELIGIBLE INSTITUTIONS

You may submit (an) application(s) if your institution has any of the 
following characteristics:

o  For-profit or non-profit organizations
o  Public or private institutions, such as universities, colleges, hospitals, 
and laboratories
o  Units of State and local governments
o  Eligible agencies of the Federal government
o  Foreign institutions are not eligible to apply

Institutions eligible for Older Americans Independence Centers Grants (P30) 
are those at which there are (1) at least five principal investigators with 
any PHS agency research grant or comparable peer reviewed research project 
(including those funded by State governments or private foundations) related 
to geriatrics and/or aging research, each with at least two years of 
committed support remaining at the time of the application or (2) one or more 
program project (P01) grant(s) related to geriatrics and/or aging research 
which also have at least two years of committed support remaining. If P01 
grant(s) exist, there should be no overlap between the P01 cores and the OAIC 
cores proposed.

INDIVIDUALS ELIGIBLE TO BECOME PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS

Individuals with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out 
the proposed research are invited to work with their institution to develop 
an application for support.  Individuals from underrepresented racial and 
ethnic groups as well as individuals with disabilities are always encouraged 
to apply for NIH programs.

SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS

Participation of OAIC investigators at an annual scientific meeting is 
mandatory.  Participants will include the PI, Center Administrator, Core 
Leaders and others, as appropriate for purposes of programmatic coordination 
and scientific exchange. Applications must include budget requests for 
attendance at these meetings as part of the budget for the LAC.

SPECIAL NOTE:  Required Components of an OAIC.  In order to qualify for an 
OAIC Award, the minimum required components which must be recommended by the 
peer reviewers to be eligible for consideration for funding are 1) one or 
more Research Cores; 2) a Research Career Development Core; and 3) a 
Leadership/Administrative Core.  All OAICs must support a significant amount 
of clinical research with human subjects, but support for animal and in vitro 
studies, and for secondary data set analyses, is also appropriate.  All 
required components, as well as the support of research utilizing human 
subjects, must be recommended for the full five years in order for the 
applications to be considered for funding.

NIA further requires adherence to its own clinical research policy statement 
to be found at http://www.nia.nih.gov/ResearchInformation/FundingAndTraining/Policies/
HumanIntervention. 

WHERE TO SEND INQUIRIES

We encourage inquiries concerning this RFA and welcome the opportunity to 
answer questions from potential applicants.  Inquiries may fall into three 
areas:  scientific/research, peer review, and financial or grants management 
issues:

Direct your questions about scientific/research issues to:

Evan C. Hadley, M.D. 
Associate Director 
Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology Program 
National Institute on Aging 
Gateway Building, Suite 3C307 
7201 Wisconsin Avenue 
Bethesda MD 20892-9205
Phone: (301) 435-3044
Fax: (301) 402-1784
E-mail: HadleyE@nia.nih.gov 

Direct your questions about peer review issues to:

Mary Nekola
Chief, Scientific Review
Scientific Review Office
National Institute on Aging
7201 Wisconsin Avenue, Room 2C212
Bethesda, MD  20892-9205
Phone:  (301) 496-9666
Fax:  (301) 402-0066
Email:  Nekolam@nia.nih.gov

Direct your questions about financial or grants management matters to:

Cynthia Riddick 
Grants and Contracts Management Office
National Institute on Aging
7201 Wisconsin Avenue, Room 2N212
Bethesda, MD  20892-9205
Phone:  (301) 402-1472
Fax:  (301) 402-3672
Email:  RiddickC@nia.nih.gov 

LETTER OF INTENT

Prospective applicants are asked to submit a letter of intent that includes 
the following information:

o  Descriptive title of the proposed research
o  Name, address, and telephone number of the Principal Investigator
o  Names of other key personnel
o  Participating institutions
o  Number and title of this RFA

Although a letter of intent is not required, is not binding, and does not 
enter into the review of a subsequent application, the information that it 
contains allows NIA staff to estimate the potential review workload and plan 
the review.

The letter of intent is to be sent by the date listed at the beginning of 
this document.  The letter of intent should be sent to:

Evan C. Hadley, M.D 
Associate Director 
Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology Program
National Institute on Aging
Gateway Building, Suite 3C307
7201 Wisconsin Avenue
Bethesda MD 20892-9205
Phone: (301) 435-3044
Fax: (301) 402-1784
E-mail: HadleyE@nia.nih.gov

SUBMITTING AN APPLICATION

Applications must be prepared using the PHS 398 research grant application 
instructions and forms (rev. 5/2001).  Applications must have a DUN and 
Bradstreet (D&B) Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number as the 
Universal Identifier when applying for Federal grants or cooperative 
agreements. The DUNS number can be obtained by calling (866) 705-5711 or 
through the web site at http://www.dunandbradstreet.com. The DUNS number 
should be entered on line 11 of the face page of the PHS 398 form. The 
PHS 398 is available at 
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/phs398/phs398.html in an 
interactive format.  For further assistance contact GrantsInfo, Telephone 
(301) 435-0714, Email: GrantsInfo@nih.gov. Applications must be complete at 
the time of submission. The rules for submitting appendix material must 
follow the instructions in PHS 398. 

USING THE RFA LABEL:  The RFA label available in the PHS 398 (rev. 5/2001) 
application form must be affixed to the bottom of the face page of the 
application.  Type the RFA number on the label.  Failure to use this label 
could result in delayed processing of the application such that it may not 
reach the review committee in time for review.  In addition, the RFA title 
and number must be typed on line 2 of the face page of the application form 
and the YES box must be marked.  The RFA label is also available at:  
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/phs398/labels.pdf.

SENDING AN APPLICATION TO THE NIH:  Submit a signed, typewritten original of 
the application, including the Checklist, and three signed, photocopies, in 
one package to:

Center for Scientific Review
National Institutes of Health
6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 1040 - MSC 7710
Bethesda, MD  20892-7710
Bethesda, MD  20817 (for express/courier service)

At the time of submission, two additional copies of the application, and all 
copies of the appendix material, must be sent to:

Dr. Mary Nekola
Scientific Review Office 
National Institute on Aging
Gateway Building, Suite 2C212
Bethesda, MD  20892-2292
Bethesda, MD 20814 (for express/courier service)

APPLICATION PROCESSING:  Applications must be received on or before the 
application receipt date listed in the heading of this RFA.  If an 
application is received after that date, it will be returned to the applicant 
without review.

Although there is no immediate acknowledgement of the receipt of an 
application, applicants are generally notified of the review and funding 
assignment within 8 weeks.

The Center for Scientific Review (CSR) will not accept any application in 
response to this RFA that is essentially the same as one currently pending 
initial review, unless the applicant withdraws the pending application.  
However, when a previously unfunded application, originally submitted as an 
investigator-initiated application, is to be submitted in response to an RFA, 
it is to be prepared as a NEW application.  That is, the application for the 
RFA must not include an Introduction describing the changes and improvements 
made, and the text must not be marked to indicate the changes from the 
previous unfunded version of the application.

SUPPLEMENTARY INSTRUCTIONS  

Important supplemental instructions needed for preparation of an OAIC 
application can be found at 
http://www.nia.nih.gov/GrantsAndTraining/Policies/OAICguidelines.htm.

PEER REVIEW PROCESS

Upon receipt, applications will be reviewed for completeness by CSR and 
responsiveness by the NIA.  Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.

If the application is not responsive to the RFA, NIH staff may contact the 
applicant to determine whether to return the application to the applicant or 
submit it for review in competition with unsolicited applications at the next 
appropriate NIH review cycle.

Applications that are complete and responsive to the RFA will be evaluated 
for scientific and technical merit by an appropriate peer review group 
convened by the NIA in accordance with the review criteria stated below.  As 
part of the initial merit review, all applications will:

o  Undergo a process in which only those applications deemed to have the 
highest scientific merit, generally the top half of the applications under 
review, will be discussed and assigned a priority score
o  Receive a written critique
o  Receive a second level review by the National Advisory Council on Aging.

REVIEW CRITERIA

The goals of NIH-supported research are to advance our understanding of 
biological systems, improve the control of disease, and enhance health. In 
the written comments reviewers will be asked to evaluate the application in 
order to judge the likelihood that the proposed research will have a 
substantial impact on the pursuit of these goals. The scientific review group 
will address and consider each of the following criteria in assigning the 
application's overall score, weighting them as appropriate for each 
application.

o  Significance 
o  Approach 
o  Innovation
o  Investigator
o  Environment

The application does not need to be strong in all categories to be judged 
likely to have major scientific impact and thus deserve a high priority 
score.  For example, an investigator may propose to carry out important work 
that by its nature is not innovative but is essential to move a field 
forward.

The criteria to be used in the evaluation of OAIC applications are listed 
below.

1.  Significance.

o  How important are the OAIC's selected area(s) of focus in regard to 
potential advances in understanding or treating age-related conditions 
affecting independence of older Americans?

o  Will the goals set for the OAIC over the project period significantly 
contribute to advances in its area(s) of  focus? 

o  How effectively will the OAIC promote the development of future research 
leaders in its area(s) of focus, particularly leaders who can integrate 
clinical insights regarding health, disease, independence, and disability in 
old age with knowledge of advances in the basic sciences, including 
gerontology, to develop better interventions to maintain health and 
independence?

o  Will the OAIC have a significant effect on the concepts or methods that 
drive efforts to enhance independence for older persons?

o  To what extent will the center cores facilitate other ongoing research to 
advance aging and geriatric research?

2.  Approach.

o  Has one or more important topics been selected as an area of research 
focus?  How adequate is the proposed strategy for promoting a sustained 
research program in the selected area(s) of focus through which the OAIC will 
accomplish the innovation, leadership, collaborative, and career development 
functions sought?  Are the goals to be achieved within the five-year OAIC 
award period specified? How adequate is the plan to reach these goals, and 
the proposed methods to evaluate progress toward these goals during the 
course of the OAIC award?

o  How adequate are the LAC's plans for monitoring, stimulating, sustaining, 
evaluating, and reporting progress toward the overall goals of the OAIC? Are 
they clearly stated and are approaches specified to deal with inadequate 
progress toward achieving goals, should this occur?

o  How adequately do the Research Cores, enhance the quality of research, 
career development and pilot projects?  How adequate is the plan for 
prioritizing access to RC resources?

o  What is the scientific quality of the pilot/exploratory studies proposed 
and are they likely to acquire information needed to select or design future 
crucial studies in the OAIC area(s) of focus?

o  How adequately does the Research Career Development Core provide 
educational and other career development opportunities for fellows, junior 
faculty and other professional and paraprofessional personnel associated with 
the Center?  The quality of the plans to promote linkages between mechanistic 
and applied research are an important aspect in the evaluation of the RCDC. 

o  How adequate are the arrangements for internal quality control of ongoing 
research, the allocation of funds, day-to-day management, contractual 
agreements, the internal communication and cooperation among investigators in 
the program?

o  How effectively does the program incorporate both fundamental discovery 
and the development of applied research?

o  How clear is the plan for defining sharing of responsibilities among 
investigators and between institutions (if more than one institution is 
involved)? If collaborative arrangements are proposed, is there a convincing 
demonstration that these interactions will be consistent enough to meet the 
needs of the OAIC?

o  How thoughtfully does the applicant acknowledge potential problem areas 
and consider alternative approaches?

o  How adequate are the plans for the external review process?

3.  Innovation.

o  How effectively will the OAIC facilitate and develop novel 
multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research strategies?

o  How original and innovative are the developmental projects and 
pilot/exploratory studies?

o  Does the OAIC group challenge existing paradigms or develop new 
methodologies or technologies?

o  To what extent will the OAIC stimulate translation between basic and 
clinical research?

o  To what degree will the OAIC add new research directions that are based on 
insights from basic aging research or geriatrics?

4.  Investigators.

o  How adequate is the proposed leadership for achieving the goals of the 
OAIC? Are the OAIC PI, and lead investigators appropriately trained and well 
suited to the organizational and scientific responsibilities associated with 
this project? Is the PI an established investigator in a major area selected 
as a focus of OAIC research? 

o  To what extent does the PI have the leadership qualities, including the 
ability to work collaboratively with other investigators, to establish 
mechanisms for quality control of the science receiving core funds, and to 
move the OAIC into new innovative research areas as appropriate.  Does the PI 
demonstrate the ability for the translation of new scientific findings in 
basic aging research into testing of interventions in animals and humans?  
Has the OAIC PI created adequate plans for the external review of the overall 
OAIC and for the review of the proposed developmental projects and 
pilot/exploratory studies?

o  Is there evidence of adequate numbers of outstanding junior investigators 
with interest and commitment to aging research?

o  If there are plans to recruit investigator(s), are those plans reasonable 
and necessary and can those efforts be completed in a timely manner, such 
that the recruited investigator(s) can make meaningful contributions to the 
OAIC?

5.  Environment.

o  To what extent is there evidence of significant commitment of the 
institution to fulfilling the objectives of the OAIC?

o  What is the quality of the academic and physical environment as it bears 
on patients, space and equipment and on the potential for interaction among 
scientists within the center and with scientists from other departments, 
institutions and Claude D. Pepper OAICs?  Will the center serve as a source 
of advice in the area(s) of its theme(s) regarding technology, methodology, 
analysis or other expertise?

ADDITIONAL REVIEW CRITERIA: In addition to the above criteria, the following 
items will be considered in the determination of scientific merit and the 
priority score:

PROTECTION OF HUMAN SUBJECTS FROM RESEARCH RISK: The involvement of human 
subjects and protections from research risk relating to their participation 
in the proposed research will be assessed. (See criteria included in the 
section on Federal Citations, below).

INCLUSION OF WOMEN AND MINORITIES: The adequacy of plans to include subjects 
from both genders, all racial and ethnic groups (and subgroups), as 
appropriate for the scientific goals of the research.  Plans for the 
recruitment and retention of subjects will also be evaluated. (See Inclusion 
Criteria in the sections on Federal Citations, below).

CARE AND USE OF VERTEBRATE ANIMALS IN RESEARCH: If vertebrate animals are to 
be used in the project, the five items described under Section f of the PHS 
398 research grant application instructions (rev. 5/2001) will be assessed.  

BUDGET:  The reasonableness of the proposed budget and the requested period 
of support in relation to the proposed research.

RECEIPT AND REVIEW SCHEDULE

Letter of Intent Receipt Date:  November 17, 2003
Application Receipt Date:  December 17, 2003
Peer Review Date:  March 2004
Council Review:  May 2004
Earliest Anticipated Start Date:  June 2004

AWARD CRITERIA

Award criteria that will be used to make award decisions include:

o  Scientific merit (as determined by peer review)
o  Availability of funds
o  Programmatic priorities.

REQUIRED FEDERAL CITATIONS 

HUMAN SUBJECTS PROTECTION:  Federal regulations (45CFR46) require that 
applications and proposals involving human subjects must be evaluated with 
reference to the risks to the subjects, the adequacy of protection against 
these risks, the potential benefits of the research to the subjects and 
others, and the importance of the knowledge gained or to be gained.
http://www.hhs.gov/ohrp/humansubjects/guidance/45cfr46.htm 

DATA AND SAFETY MONITORING PLAN:  Data and safety monitoring is required for 
all types of clinical trials, including physiologic, toxicity, and dose-
finding studies (phase I); efficacy studies (phase II); efficacy, 
effectiveness and comparative trials (phase III).  The establishment of data 
and safety monitoring boards (DSMBs) is required for multi-site clinical 
trials involving interventions that entail potential risk to the 
participants.   (NIH Policy for Data and Safety Monitoring, NIH Guide for 
Grants and Contracts, June 12, 1998: 
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/not98-084.html).  

INCLUSION OF WOMEN AND MINORITIES IN CLINICAL RESEARCH:  It is the policy of 
the NIH that women and members of minority groups and their sub-populations 
must be included in all NIH-supported clinical research projects unless a 
clear and compelling justification is provided indicating that inclusion is 
inappropriate with respect to the health of the subjects or the purpose of 
the research. This policy results from the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993 
(Section 492B of Public Law 103-43).

All investigators proposing clinical research should read the "NIH Guidelines 
for Inclusion of Women and Minorities as Subjects in Clinical Research - 
Amended, October, 2001," published in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts 
on October 9, 2001 
(http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-02-001.html); 
a complete copy of the updated Guidelines are available at 
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/women_min/guidelines_amended_10_2001.htm.
The amended policy incorporates: the use of an NIH definition of clinical 
research; updated racial and ethnic categories in compliance with the new OMB 
standards; clarification of language governing NIH-defined Phase III clinical 
trials consistent with the new PHS Form 398; and updated roles and 
responsibilities of NIH staff and the extramural community.  The policy 
continues to require for all NIH-defined Phase III clinical trials that: a) 
all applications or proposals and/or protocols must provide a description of 
plans to conduct analyses, as appropriate, to address differences by 
sex/gender and/or racial/ethnic groups, including subgroups if applicable; 
and b) investigators must report annual accrual and progress in conducting 
analyses, as appropriate, by sex/gender and/or racial/ethnic group 
differences.

REQUIRED EDUCATION ON THE PROTECTION OF HUMAN SUBJECT PARTICIPANTS: NIH 
policy requires education on the protection of human subject participants for 
all investigators submitting NIH proposals for research involving human 
subjects.  You will find this policy announcement in the NIH Guide for Grants 
and Contracts Announcement, dated June 5, 2000, at 
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-00-039.html.

HUMAN EMBRYONIC STEM CELLS (hESC):  Criteria for federal funding of research 
on hESCs can be found at http://stemcells.nih.gov/index.asp and at 
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-02-005.html.  Only 
research using hESC lines that are registered in the NIH Human Embryonic Stem 
Cell Registry will be eligible for Federal funding (see http://escr.nih.gov).   
It is the responsibility of the applicant to provide, in the project 
description and elsewhere in the application as appropriate, the official NIH 
identifier(s) for the hESC line(s) to be used in the proposed research.  
Applications that do not provide this information will be returned without 
review. 

PUBLIC ACCESS TO RESEARCH DATA THROUGH THE FREEDOM OF INFORMATION ACT: The 
Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-110 has been revised to 
provide public access to research data through the Freedom of Information Act 
(FOIA) under some circumstances.  Data that are (1) first produced in a 
project that is supported in whole or in part with Federal funds and (2) 
cited publicly and officially by a Federal agency in support of an action 
that has the force and effect of law (i.e., a regulation) may be accessed 
through FOIA.  It is important for applicants to understand the basic scope 
of this amendment.  NIH has provided guidance at 
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/a110/a110_guidance_dec1999.htm.

Applicants may wish to place data collected under this PA in a public 
archive, which can provide protections for the data and manage the 
distribution for an indefinite period of time.  If so, the application should 
include a description of the archiving plan in the study design and include 
information about this in the budget justification section of the 
application. In addition, applicants should think about how to structure 
informed consent statements and other human subjects procedures given the 
potential for wider use of data collected under this award.

STANDARDS FOR PRIVACY OF INDIVIDUALLY IDENTIFIABLE HEALTH INFORMATION:  The 
Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) issued final modification to 
the "Standards for Privacy of Individually Identifiable Health Information", 
the "Privacy Rule," on August 14, 2002.  The Privacy Rule is a federal 
regulation under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act 
(HIPAA) of 1996 that governs the protection of individually identifiable 
health information, and is administered and enforced by the DHHS Office for 
Civil Rights (OCR). Those who must comply with the Privacy Rule (classified 
under the Rule as "covered entities") must do so by April 14, 2003 (with the 
exception of small health plans which have an extra year to comply).

Decisions about applicability and implementation of the Privacy Rule reside 
with the researcher and his/her institution. The OCR website 
(http://www.hhs.gov/ocr/) provides information on the Privacy Rule, including 
a complete Regulation Text and a set of decision tools on "Am I a covered 
entity?"  Information on the impact of the HIPAA Privacy Rule on NIH 
processes involving the review, funding, and progress monitoring of grants, 
cooperative agreements, and research contracts can be found at 
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-03-025.html.

URLs IN NIH GRANT APPLICATIONS OR APPENDICES: All applications and proposals 
for NIH funding must be self-contained within specified page limitations. 
Unless otherwise specified in an NIH solicitation, Internet addresses (URLs) 
should not be used to provide information necessary to the review because 
reviewers are under no obligation to view the Internet sites.  Furthermore, 
we caution reviewers that their anonymity may be compromised when they 
directly access an Internet site.

HEALTHY PEOPLE 2010: The Public Health Service (PHS) is committed to 
achieving the health promotion and disease prevention objectives of "Healthy 
People 2010," a PHS-led national activity for setting priority areas. This 
RFA is related to one or more of the priority areas. Potential applicants may 
obtain a copy of "Healthy People 2010" at 
http://www.healthypeople.gov/.

AUTHORITY AND REGULATIONS: This program is described in the Catalog of 
Federal Domestic Assistance at http://www.cfda.gov/ and is not subject to the 
intergovernmental review requirements of Executive Order 12372 or Health 
Systems Agency review.  Awards are made under the authorization of Sections 
301 and 405 of the Public Health Service Act as amended (42 USC 241 and 284) 
and under Federal Regulations 42 CFR 52 and 45 CFR Parts 74 and 92. All 
awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other 
considerations described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.  The NIH Grants 
Policy Statement can be found at 
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/policy.htm 

The PHS strongly encourages all grant recipients to provide a smoke-free 
workplace and discourage the use of all tobacco products.  In addition, 
Public Law 103-227, the Pro-Children Act of 1994, prohibits smoking in 
certain facilities (or in some cases, any portion of a facility) in which 
regular or routine education, library, day care, health care, or early 
childhood development services are provided to children.  This is consistent 
with the PHS mission to protect and advance the physical and mental health of 
the American people.


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