NATHAN SHOCK CENTERS OF EXCELLENCE IN BASIC BIOLOGY OF AGING

RELEASE DATE:  December 23, 2003

RFA Number:  RFA-AG-04-010 

Update: The following update relating to this announcement has been issued:

October 1, 2009 - This RFA has been reissued as (RFA-AG-10-009).

July 28, 2009  - See Notice NOT-AG-09-006 Administrative Supplements for Pilot Studies on Health Span Measurements in Mice.


Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)

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

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

CATALOG OF FEDERAL DOMESTIC ASSISTANCE NUMBER:  93.866

LETTER OF INTENT RECEIPT DATE:  April 16, 2004
APPLICATION RECEIPT DATE:  May 20, 2004 

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 Peer Review Process
o Review Criteria
o Receipt and Review Schedule
o Award Criteria
o Required Federal Citations

PURPOSE OF THIS RFA

The National Institute on Aging (NIA) invites applications for support of 
centers, known as Nathan Shock Centers of Excellence in Basic Biology of Aging.  
These Center grants will provide funding for research and training activities 
related to basic biology of aging.  They are intended for institutions with a 
substantial investment in and commitment to aging research, but they are not 
intended to directly support clinical research or clinical trials.

RESEARCH OBJECTIVES

Objective and Scope

The goal of this program is to enhance the ability of institutions with well-
developed research programs in basic research on aging to utilize state-of-the-
art research resources to provide the strongest environment for the conduct of 
research on aging. Thus, this Request for Applications is intended to enhance 
the quality of research in the basic biology of aging, facilitate the planning 
and coordination of aging research activities, provide support and a suitable 
environment for investigators new to aging research to acquire research skills 
and experience at institutions that have demonstrated commitment to, and 
expertise in, basic biology of aging research, and to develop potential regional 
and/or national resource centers.  Thus, each application must include:  1) a 
core to support administrative functions, advisory committee expenses and staff 
travel; 2) at least two research core activities such as animal facilities, 
biometric support, molecular/cell biology and/or equipment, etc. which must be 
utilized by three or more projects on aging research that are already funded; 
and 3) a research development core to support pilot/feasibility projects, and 
provide temporary salary support for investigators just entering the research on 
aging arena to a point where they can compete for independent support.  Each 
core must be directed by an appropriately qualified investigator.

Administrative/Program Enrichment Core

This core is required for the administrative management of the overall Center, 
as well as support for the required outside advisory panel.

The Administrator (if one is used) will assist the Principal Investigator 
(Director) in managing the Center, addressing issues of fiscal management and 
compliance with institutional, HHS, NIH and NIA policies.  In addition, each 
Center must establish an advisory panel of experts from outside the institution.  
This panel should not be named, nor should potential members be contacted, until 
after the review process is completed, and awards are made.  This panel must be 
convened during the fourth year of funding, and must provide a written 
evaluation of the progress of the Center to the NIA no later than April, 2009.  
Additional use of this advisory panel shall be at the discretion of the Center.

Funds should be requested to permit travel by the Director and one other senior 
staff to the annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America for 
meetings with NIA staff and/or staff of other Centers.

The remaining elements of this core, i.e., seminar program, conferences, and 
staff travel to meetings, are optional.

Research Resource Cores

These cores will provide support for personnel, equipment, supplies and limited 
renovation costs needed to develop new, or improve existing resources, that 
foster shared use and collaborative research.  Because a supply of appropriate 
animal models that are free of disease is essential for research on biological 
aging, support may be requested for the development and maintenance of animal 
resources to meet this need.  Support may also be requested for animal model 
development costs and animal purchase costs for the operation of a quality 
animal facility.  Personnel and equipment costs for biometrics may also be 
requested.  To gain insight into the mechanisms of aging through understanding 
the underlying intrinsic biology requires a molecular/cellular biology 
capability.  Therefore, this core may also request support for various 
molecular/cellular research resources for on-going funded research projects at 
the institution.  Examples of these and other possible cores to support at least 
3 basic research projects are listed below; these include, but are not limited 
to:

o Animal colonies
o Animal tissue bank
o Bioinformatics
o Cell culture facility
o DNA cloning and sequencing
o Computing and statistical analysis
o Cell sorting/flow cytometry
o Imaging technology
o Gene expression microarray technology
o Preparation of biological tools, such as monoclonal antibodies, gene 
expression vectors
o Analytical services, e.g., mass spectrometry
o Proteomics
o Pathology Assessment

Centers are encouraged to develop resources that will also be available for 
collaborative research projects with investigators from other institutions.  A 
plan must be presented to describe how such access to Center resources will be 
managed, so as not to overwhelm the personnel and resources of the Center. The 
requirement that resources support at least three basic research projects may be 
partially met by projects at institutions other than the grantee institution.

Research Development Core

The Research Development Core will provide support for career development of 
junior faculty and other investigators who wish to change career direction
towards aging research in the form of pilot projects.  It may also serve as a 
resource for pursuing an exciting new finding beyond the limits that existing 
support allows.  Activities that focus resources from a variety of disciplines 
on understanding biological processes of aging are encouraged.

The request for Research Development Core support must contain 1) a plan for the 
selection of faculty to be supported, 2) a general plan for the career 
development of individuals who will be selected for these positions, 3) a plan 
for review and selection of pilot projects to be pursued, and 4) a list of 
senior faculty who will participate in research career development, along with 
their curriculum vitae and current research support.  The institution must be 
able to demonstrate adequate resources for the support of the research efforts 
of proposed junior investigators, and a plan for monitoring their progress and 
development toward independence.

The budget for each pilot project, including salary for the investigator, may 
not exceed $50,000 per year (direct cost), and the total budget for pilot 
projects under this core may not exceed $100,000 per year (direct cost).  Pilot 
projects funded must receive prior approval from NIA staff, and should be 
described briefly in the annual progress reports.

This core may also provide temporary salary support, not to exceed 24 months, 
and research supplies for faculty in specified areas of research complementary 
to ongoing activities of the group.  No more than three faculty may receive 
salary support through this core at any one time, including salary on pilot 
projects.  It must be clearly described how any requested salary support in this 
core will enhance the existing program. Funds may also be requested for salary 
support for the director of the Research Development Core, who will be 
responsible for coordination of all activities within said core.

The Research Development Core may also be used to encourage the career 
development of other faculty through the use of research core resources, even 
though their salary support is provided from other sources.  This may include 
investigators from other institutions, including, but not limited to, 
investigators from other Shock Centers.

Finally, this core may include a specific plan for support of research and 
training of minority students or faculty, or both.

Other Required Information

A list of all peer-reviewed, externally funded active research projects on aging 
at the applicant institution should be included with the application.  This 
information should include:  name of PI, title of the project, awarding agency, 
identifying number if applicable, average annual direct cost, and approved 
funding period.  This information may be supplied in tabular form.

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.  This RFA is a one time solicitation.

The P30 mechanism is designed to enhance and extend the effectiveness of a 
group of related projects and investigators that are already funded 
through other mechanisms such as research projects grants (R01, R03, R21, 
R37), program projects (P01), or other Federal or non Federal peer-
reviewed extramurally-funded grants.  In this respect, the P30 mechanism 
builds upon an established base of research excellence that emphasizes 
common themes or foci in aging research.

In preparing the application follow the instructions for non-modular 
applications as described in PHS 398 (rev. 5/2001).

FUNDS AVAILABLE

The NIA intends to commit approximately $5 million in FY 2005 to fund up 
to 5 new and/or competitive continuation grants in response to this RFA.  
Because the nature and scope of the proposed research will vary from 
application to application, it is anticipated that the size of each award 
may 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.

Applicants must request a project period of 5 years, and a budget for 
total (direct plus facilities and administrative) costs up to $1.2 million 
per year.  Applications with budget requests exceeding this amount will 
not be accepted by the NIA and will be returned to the applicant.  Budget 
increments for subsequent years will be limited to no more than three 
percent.

ELIGIBLE INSTITUTIONS

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

o For-profit or non-profit organization
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 Domestic institutions/organizations
o Foreign institutions are not eligible to apply

Applications must represent a single institution.  To be eligible an 
institution must also have at least 15 funded grants for biomedical 
research on aging.  Program project grants count as one grant.  Eligible 
grants need not be from the National Institute on Aging.

INDIVIDUALS ELIGIBLE TO BECOME PRINCIPAL INVESTIGATORS

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

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.

o Director questions about scientific/research issues to:

Huber R. Warner, Ph.D., Associate Director
Biology of Aging Program
National Institute on Aging
7201 Wisconsin Avenue
Gateway Building, Suite 2C231
Bethesda, MD 20892-9205
Telephone:  301/496-4996
FAX:  301/402-0010
Email: warnerh@nia.nih.gov

o Direct your questions about peer review issues to:

Mary Nekola, Ph.D., Chief
Scientific Review Office
National Institute on Aging
7201 Wisconsin Avenue, 
Gateway Building, Suite 2C212
Bethesda, MD 20892-9205
Telephone:  301/496-9666
FAX:  301/402-0066
Email:  nekolam@nia.nih.gov

o Direct your questions about financial or grants management issues to:

Ms. Linda Whipp, Grants Management Officer
Grants and Contracts Management Office
National Institute on Aging
7201 Wisconsin Avenue
Gateway Building, Suite 2N212
Bethesda, MD  20892-9205
Telephone:  301/496-1472
FAX:  301/402-3672
Email:  whippl@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 and 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:

Huber R. Warner, Ph.D., Associate Director
Biology of Aging Program
National Institute on Aging
7201 Wisconsin Avenue
Gateway Building, Suite 2C231
Bethesda, MD 20892-9205
Telephone:  301/496-4996
FAX:  301/402-0010
Email: warnerh@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 document is available at 
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/phs398/phs398.html in interactive 
format.  For further assistance contact Grants Info, Telephone:  301/435-0714; 
Email:  grantsinfo@nih.gov

SUPPLEMENTARY INSTRUCTIONS: 

o The narrative description of the Administrative Core is limited to 5 pages. 
o The description of each Research Resource Core is limited to 5 pages.
o Narrative description of the Research Development Core is limited to a total 
of 10 pages, excluding the required CV's and list of current research support.  
The description of individual pilot projects is limited to 1 page each.  

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 
"NATHAN SHOCK CENTERS OF EXCELLENCE IN BASIC BIOLOGY OF AGING", and number, 
RFA AG-04-010, must be typed on line 2 of the face page of the application 
form and the YES box must be marked.  The sample RFA label is also available 
at:  http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/phs398/label-bk.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 signed photocopies of the 
application must also be sent to:

Chief of Review
Scientific Review Office
National Institute on Aging
7201 Wisconsin Avenue, Room 2C213
Bethesda, MD  20892-9205

APPLICATION PROCESSING:  Applications must be received on or before 
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 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.  

PEER REVIEW PROCESS

Upon receipt, applications will be reviewed for completeness by the CSR, 
and for responsiveness by the NIA.  Incomplete and/or non-responsive 
applications will be returned to the applicant without further 
consideration.

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.  
There will be no site visits.  As part of the initial merit review, all 
applications:

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 applications 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.

SIGNIFICANCE: Does this study address an important problem? If the aims of the 
application are achieved, how will scientific knowledge be advanced? What will be the 
effect of these studies on the concepts or methods that drive this field?

APPROACH: Are the conceptual framework, design, methods, and analyses adequately 
developed, well-integrated, and appropriate to the aims of the project? Does the 
applicant acknowledge potential problem areas and consider alternative tactics?

INNOVATION: Does the project employ novel concepts, approaches or methods? Are the aims 
original and innovative? Does the project challenge existing paradigms or develop new 
methodologies or technologies?

INVESTIGATOR: Is the investigator appropriately trained and well suited to carry out this 
work? Is the work proposed appropriate to the experience level of the principal 
investigator and other researchers (if any)?

ENVIRONMENT: Does the scientific environment in which the work will be done contribute to 
the probability of success? Do the proposed experiments take advantage of unique features 
of the scientific environment or employ useful collaborative arrangements? Is there 
evidence of institutional support?  

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:

The primary criterion for review by the NIA review committee in evaluating 
each application will be the potential of the proposed center to enhance 
research programs on basic mechanisms of aging.  Not all additional 
criteria are applicable to every application, depending on number and 
extent of proposed cores.  Applications for competitive renewal should 
fully document progress made during the previous period of support.  
Additional review criteria are:

Principal Investigator
Leadership ability, scientific stature, and commitment to aging of the PI.
o Ability of the PI to meet the program's demands of time and effort.
o Evidence of ability to work with others both within and outside of the 
applicant institution.

Administrative Core
o Qualifications, experience and commitment of core director.
o Presence of an administrative and organizational structure conducive to 
attaining the objectives of the proposed program
o Evidence that the academic and physical environment is suitable for good 
interaction among scientists within the Center and with scientists from 
other departments, and/or institutions.
o Institutional commitment to the requirements of the program, including 
provision of space, infrastructure support, and other functions essential 
for successful operation of a center.
o Plan for use of the external advisory committee.

Program Enrichment {optional}
o Plans for use of staff travel, seminar program and conference funds, if 
relevant.

Research Resources Core
o Qualifications, experience, and commitment of core director.
o Potential of each core to establish or promote development of resources 
for shared use and collaborative research on aging.
o Potential of each core to promote basic aging research within the 
grantee institution.
o Potential of each core to become a regional or national resource for 
investigators outside of the awardees institutions.
o Management plan for collaborative use of each core by outside 
investigators.
o For competitive renewal applications, the impact of the Center on 
furthering gerontology research locally and nationally during the previous 
5-year funding period should be documented.

Research Development Core
o Qualifications, experience, and commitment of core director.
o Extent to which cores would provide opportunities for aging research 
experience for junior faculty and investigators new to aging research.
o Applications for competitive renewal should document how the Research 
Development Core led to research publications and successful grant 
applications during the previous 5-year funding period.
o Plan for review and selection of pilot projects.
o Plan for monitoring progress of investigators supported on pilot 
projects.
o Plan for support of minority research and training, if relevant.

Overall
o Appropriateness of the total budget and budgetary requests for the cores 
and pilot projects.
o Quality of proposed external review process.
o The adequacy of the means for protecting against risks to human 
subjects, vertebrate animals and/or the environment.

RECEIPT AND REVIEW SCHEDULE

Letter of intent Receipt Date:  April 16, 2004
Application Receipt Date:  May 20, 2004
Council Review:  January 2005
Earliest Anticipated Award Date:  July 1, 2005

AWARD CRITERIA

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

o Scientific and technical merit (as determined by peer review)
o Uniqueness of research cores
o Potential for scientific impact beyond grantee institution
o Availability of funds
o Programmatic priorities

REQUIRED FEDERAL CITATIONS

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 IMFORMATION 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 
(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 protection 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 statement and other human subjects procedures given the 
potential for wider use of data collected under this award.

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 area. Potential 
applicants may obtain a copy of "Healthy People 2010" at 
http://www.health.gov/healthypeople.

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 authorization of 
section 301 and 405 of the Public Health Service Act as amended (42 USC 
241 and 284) (cite appropriate authorization) and under Federal 
Regulations 42 CFR 52 and 45 CFR Part 74 and 92 (cite appropriate 
regulations).  All awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost 
principles, and other considerations described in the NIH Grants Policy 
Statement.  This NIH Grants Policy Statement can be found at 
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/policy.htm (also cite other relevant 
policies).

The PHS strongly encourages all grant and contract recipients to provide a 
smoke-free workplace and discourage the non-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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