RHEUMATIC DISEASES CORE CENTERS

Release Date:  March 23, 2000 
August 11, 2006 (Reissued as RFA-AR-06-004)
(see reissue RFA-AR-05-004)

RFA:  AR-00-005

National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases 

Letter of Intent Receipt Date:  January 31, 2001
Application Receipt Date:       March 14, 2001

PURPOSE

The National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases 
(NIAMS) invites applications for research core centers (P30s) in rheumatic 
diseases.  The Rheumatic Diseases Core Centers (RDCCs) will provide the 
resources for a number of established, currently funded investigators, often 
from different disciplines, to adopt a multidisciplinary approach to common 
research problems in rheumatic diseases and to ensure greater productivity 
than from each of the separate projects.

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 Request for Applications (RFA), 
Rheumatic Diseases Core Centers, is related to one or more of the priority 
areas.  Potential applicants may obtain "Healthy People 2010" at 
http://www.health.gov/healthypeople/. 

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

Applications may be submitted by domestic for-profit and non-profit 
organizations, public and private, such as universities, colleges, hospitals, 
laboratories, units of State and local governments, and eligible agencies of 
the Federal government.  Foreign institutions are not eligible for center 
grants.  Racial/ethnic minority individuals, women, and persons with 
disabilities are encouraged to apply as Principal Investigators.  An 
established clinical and basic research program in rheumatic diseases must be 
present. 

MECHANISM OF SUPPORT

This RFA will use the National Institutes of Health (NIH) P30 award mechanism. 
 Responsibility for the planning, direction, and execution of the proposed 
project will be solely that of the applicant.  The total project period for an 
application submitted in response to this RFA should be five years.  New and 
competing continuing applications may be submitted only in response to an RFA. 
 The anticipated award date for this RFA is January 1, 2002. 

FUNDS AVAILABLE

Then NIAMS intends to commit approximately $1.8 million in FY 2002 to fund 
three applications in response to this RFA.  An application should request a 
project period of five years.  The direct costs requested cannot exceed 
$400,000 each year (exclusive of facilities and administrative costs of 
subcontracts with collaborating organizations).  Although the financial plans 
of the NIAMS 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.

RESEARCH OBJECTIVES

Research in rheumatic diseases is at a stage where a number of areas are 
making broad advances that can be effectively fostered by research core 
centers.  Examples of these areas include, but are not limited to:

o   Mechanisms of autoimmunity underlying rheumatic diseases, including animal 
models and defined clinical populations.  This also includes identification of 
environmental factors which contribute to development of rheumatic diseases.

o   Genetic basis of rheumatic diseases and their manifestations, including 
animal models and defined clinical populations. 

o   Mechanisms underlying organ damage in rheumatic diseases, including 
inflammatory processes.

The choice of a research area upon which the RDCC would focus is made by the 
investigators.  

The RDCCs will provide support for:

1.  Core resources and facilities to be used by investigators of individually 
supported research projects in order to enhance and coordinate their 
activities.  This support may include personnel, equipment, supplies, 
services, and facilities.

2.  Up to $100,000 yearly in direct costs for pilot and feasibility studies.

3.  Program enrichment activities.

4.  Administrative Core
 
A RDCC should be an identifiable organizational unit within a university-
affiliated medical center.  An Administrative Core should be proposed to 
coordinate the Center and administer the program enrichment activities.  Two 
or more research cores must be proposed.  A research core is a facility shared 
by two or more Center investigators that enables them to conduct their 
independently funded individual research projects more efficiently and/or more 
effectively.  Cores generally fall into one of four categories:  (1) provision 
of a technology that lends itself to automation or preparation in large 
batches (e.g., histology and tissue culture), (2) complex instrumentation 
(e.g., electron microscopy), (3) animal preparation and care, and (4) service 
and training (e.g., molecular biology, biostatistics).

A pilot and feasibility study program provides modest research support 
($20,000 - $50,000 yearly) for a limited time (one to three years) to enable 
eligible investigators to explore the feasibility of a rheumatic diseases-
related concept and amass sufficient data to pursue it through other funding 
mechanisms.  An investigator is eligible only once every five years.  Eligible 
investigators include:

1.  an established investigator in rheumatic diseases or related areas with a 
proposal for testing the feasibility of a new or innovative idea that is 
rheumatic diseases-related but represents a clear and distinct departure from 
the investigator"s ongoing research interest,

2.  an established, supported investigator with no previous work in rheumatic 
diseases or related areas who is willing to test the applicability of his/her 
expertise on a rheumatic diseases-related problem, and 

3.  a new investigator who has not been a principal investigator in a past or 
current NIH research project grant (R01, R29, P01) or a current R55 grant.  
New investigators should be clearly independent and have a faculty appointment 
higher than that of postdoctoral fellow or research associate. 

Applicants from institutions which have a General Clinical Research Center 
(GCRC) funded by the NIH National Center for Research Resources may wish to 
identify the GCRC as a resource for conducting the proposed research.  Details 
of the interactions of the RDCC staff with the GCRC staff and research 
personnel may be provided in a statement describing the collaborative linkages 
being developed.  A letter of agreement from the GCRC Program Director must be 
included with the application.

SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS

The director and co-director should budget for an annual one-day meeting in 
Bethesda, MD with NIAMS staff.

INCLUSION OF WOMEN AND MINORITIES IN RESEARCH INVOLVING HUMAN SUBJECTS 

It is the policy of the NIH that women and members of minority groups and 
their subpopulations must be included in all NIH supported biomedical and 
behavioral research projects involving human subjects, unless a clear and 
compelling rationale and justification is provided 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 research involving human subjects should read the 
"NIH Guidelines for Inclusion of Women and Minorities as Subjects in Clinical 
Research,"  which was published in the Federal Register of March 28, 1994 (FR 
59 14508-14513) and in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, Vol. 23, No. 
11, March 18, 1994, available on the web at: 
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/not94-100.html  

INCLUSION OF CHILDREN AS PARTICIPANTS IN RESEARCH INVOLVING HUMAN SUBJECTS 

It is the policy of NIH that children (i.e., individuals under the age of 21) 
must be  included in all human subjects research, conducted or supported by 
the NIH, unless there are scientific and ethical reasons not to include them. 
This policy applies to all initial (Type 1) applications submitted for receipt 
dates after October 1, 1998. All investigators proposing research involving 
human subjects should read the "NIH Policy and Guidelines" on the Inclusion of 
Children as Participants in Research Involving Human Subjects that was 
published in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, March 6, 1998, and is 
available at the following URL address: 
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/not98-024.html

Investigators also may obtain copies of these policies from the program staff 
listed under INQUIRIES. Program staff may also provide additional relevant 
information concerning the policy. 

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.  Reviewers are cautioned that their anonymity may 
be compromised when they directly access an Internet site.

LETTER OF INTENT

Prospective applicants are asked to submit, by January 31, 2001, a letter of 
intent that includes a descriptive title of the proposed research, the name, 
address, and telephone number of the Principal Investigator, the identities of 
other key personnel and participating institutions, and the number and title 
of the RFA in response to which the application may be submitted.  Although a 
letter of intent is not required, is not binding, and does not enter into the 
review of subsequent applications, the information that it contains allows 
NIAMS staff to estimate the potential review workload and to avoid conflict of 
interest in the selection of reviewers.  

The letter of intent is to be sent to Dr. Julia B. Freeman at the address 
listed under INQUIRIES.

APPLICATION PROCEDURES

The research grant application form PHS 398 (rev. 4/98) is to be used in 
applying for these grants.  Application kits are available at most 
institutional offices of sponsored research and may be obtained from the 
Division of Extramural Outreach and Information Resources, National Institutes 
of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, MSC 7910, Bethesda, MD 20892-7910, telephone 
301/435-0714, email: grantsinfo@nih.gov .

Special guidelines have been developed for Core Centers supported by NIAMS.  
These guidelines should be used in assembling the application. See INQUIRIES 
for obtaining a copy of these guidelines.

The RFA label available in the PHS 398 (rev. 4/98) 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, Rheumatic Diseases Core 
Center, and number, AR-00-005, 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 available at: 
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/phs398/label-bk.pdf has been modified to 
allow for this change. Please note this is in pdf format.

Submit a signed, typewritten original of the application, including the 
Checklist, and three signed photocopies of the application 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, send two additional copies of the application and 
all copies of any appendices to:

Review Branch
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases 
Natcher Building, Room 5AS.25U - MSC 6500
Bethesda, MD  20892-6500
Bethesda, MD  20814 (for express/courier service)

Applications must be received by March 14, 2001.  If an application is 
received after that date, it will be returned to the applicant without review. 

REVIEW CONSIDERATIONS

Applications for Core Center grants will first be screened for completeness by 
the Center for Scientific Review and for responsiveness by the NIAMS. 
Incomplete and/or non-responsive applications will be returned to the 
applicant without further consideration. 

Applications which are complete and responsive will be further evaluated for 
scientific merit in accordance with the review criteria stated below by a 
group of expert consultants convened by the Review Branch of the NIAMS.  As 
part of the initial merit review, all applications will receive a written 
critique and 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, assigned a priority score, and receive a second 
level review by the Advisory Council for NIAMS.   

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 discuss the following aspects 
of the application in order to judge the likelihood that the proposed research 
will have a substantial impact on the pursuit of these goals.  Each of these 
criteria will be addressed and considered in assigning the overall score, 
weighting them as appropriate for each application. 

Applicants should clearly demonstrate the ways in which the RDCC will build 
the local research program, will support on-going projects and will attract 
both senior and new investigators to rheumatic diseases research.  Review 
criteria which will be used by the initial review group (IRG) in the 
evaluation of the Core Center applications follow:

1.  Evaluation of Cores

A research core is evaluated on the facilities and services provided.  
Important factors include:

Significance:  Will the core have utility to the Core Center research base 
(minimum:  two independently funded investigators)? 

Approach: Is the quality of services high?  Are there procedures for quality 
control?  Is the core cost effective?  How is cost reimbursement proposed? 

Innovation: Will the core likely promote interdisciplinary research?  Are 
unique services offered?

Investigator:  Are the personnel appropriate?

Environment:  Are the facilities and equipment adequate?  Is there 
institutional commitment to the core?

2.  Evaluation of Pilot and Feasibility Studies (P&Fs) 

For individual P&Fs:

Significance:  Will the proposed work likely yield meaningful preliminary data 
leading to a research proposal?

Approach:  Are the experimental approaches adequate?

Innovation: Is the research topic one that promotes innovative new research 
related to the core center?

Investigator:  Does the investigator meet one of the criteria for P&F 
investigators?  (If not, the project should not be considered further.)

Environment: Is the project appropriate to the research base of the core 
center?  Does one or more of the cores offer needed materials/assistance?

3.  Evaluation of the Administrative Core 

The Administrative Core is evaluated on the leadership provided.  Important 
factors include:

Significance:  Does the proposed Core Center document coordination of ongoing 
research between the separately funded projects and the Core Center including 
mechanisms for internal monitoring?

Approach:  Is the management proposed appropriate for:  1) fiscal 
administration, procurement, property and personnel management, planning, 
budgeting, etc., and 2) reviewing the use of, and administering funds for, the 
pilot and feasibility program?  Are the Core Center budgets appropriate for 
the proposed and approved work to be done in core facilities, for pilot and 
feasibility studies, and for enrichment in relation to the total Core Center 
program?

Innovation:  Is there a plan for the establishment and maintenance of internal 
communication and cooperation among the Core Center investigators and for an 
enrichment program that provides outside review and input?

Investigators:  Is there scientific and administrative leadership, commitment 
and ability, and adequate time commitment of the Core Center Director and 
Associate Director for the effective management of the Core Center program?

Environment:  Have institutional lines of authority and institutional 
endorsements been documented for the Core Center?

4. Overall Core Center Evaluation

An overall priority score will be assigned to the application.  This score 
will reflect not only the quality of the cores, administration, and pilot and 
feasibility studies, but also the quality of the research base and how the 
proposed Core Center will enhance the research base.

The following elements will be evaluated:

a.  The scientific excellence of the Core Center"s research base as well as 
the relevance and interrelation of these separately funded research projects 
to the central themes of the Core Center and the likelihood for meaningful 
collaboration among Core Center investigators.  Existence of a base of 
established independently supported biomedical research of high quality is a 
prerequisite for establishment of a Core Center.

b. The application must convey how the proposed Core Center will enhance 
significantly the cited research base established at the host institution.  
This includes the qualifications, experience, and commitment of the Core 
Center investigators and their willingness to interact with each other.  This 
also includes efficient and effective use and/or planned use of enrichment 
funds including the contribution of these activities in enhancing the 
realization of the Core Center concept.

c.  The appropriateness, quality and relevance of the proposed cores, and the 
modes of operation, facilities, and potential for contribution to ongoing 
research.

d.  The proposed management of the pilot and feasibility program and the 
scientific merit of the pilot and feasibility projects for which funds are 
requested from the Core Center grant.  The effectiveness of the proposed 
program will serve as a basis for recommendations concerning the level at 
which pilot and feasibility studies will be supported throughout the project 
period.

e.  The overall environment for a Core Center.  This includes the 
institutional commitment to the program, including lines of accountability 
regarding management of the Core Center, and the institution"s partnership 
with the Core Center, and the institutional commitment to individuals 
responsible for conducting essential Core Center functions. This also includes 
the academic environment and resources in which the activities will be 
conducted, including the availability of space, equipment, facilities, and the 
potential for interaction with scientists from other departments and schools.

Schedule:

Letter of Intent Receipt Date:   January 31, 2001
Application Receipt Date:        March 14, 2001
Peer Review Date:                June-July, 2001
Council Review:                  September 24 - 25, 2001

Earliest Anticipate Start Date:  January 1, 2002

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.  Since the NIAMS is interested in funding only the 
best research, individual components of lesser quality may not be funded, even 
if approved, under the "umbrella" of the Core Center grant mechanism.  It is 
primarily for this reason that each component will be assigned a separate 
merit rating, taking into consideration only its merit as an individual pilot 
and feasibility study or core.  

INQUIRIES

Inquiries are encouraged.  The opportunity to clarify any issues or questions 
from potential applicants is welcome.  

Inquiries regarding programmatic issues and letters of intent may be directed 
to:

Dr. Julia B. Freeman
Centers Program, EP
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases 
Natcher Building, Room 5AS.19F -  MSC 6500
Bethesda, MD  20892-6500
Bethesda, MD  20814 (for express/courier service)
Telephone:  (301) 594-5052
FAX:  (301) 480-4543
Email:  Julia_B_Freeman@nih.gov

Copies of the guidelines for the NIAMS RESEARCH CORE CENTER program may be 
obtained from:

NIAMS Clearinghouse
1 AMS Circle
Bethesda, MD  20892-3675
Telephone: (301) 495-4484
FAX: (301) 587-4352

Guidelines are also available on the internet:

http://www.nih.gov/niams/grants/ep7.htm

Direct inquiries regarding fiscal matters to:

Sally A. Nichols 
Grants Management Officer
National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases 
Natcher Building Room 5AS.49F - MSC 6500
Bethesda, MD  20892-6500
Telephone: (301) 594-3535
FAX: (301) 480-5450

Email:  nicholss@exchange.nih.gov

AUTHORITY AND REGULATIONS

This program is described in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance No. 
93.846, Arthritis, Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases Research.  Awards are 
made under authorization of Sections 301 and 405 of the Public Health Service 
Act as amended (42 USC 241 and 284) and administered under NIH grants policies 
and Federal Regulations 42 CFR 52 and 45 CFR Parts 74 and 92.  This program is 
not subject to the intergovernmental review requirements of Executive Order 
12372 or Health Systems Agency review.

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