INTERNET CONNECTION FOR HEALTH-RELATED INSTITUTIONS
 
Release Date:  April 27, 2001

RFA:  RFA-LM-01-002

National Library of Medicine

Letter of Intent Receipt Date:  May 25, 2001
Application Receipt Date:       June 22, 2001

PURPOSE

The National Library of Medicine (NLM) is offering grants to health-
related institutions that wish to provide Internet access to the 
professionals and clients of their organization.  Internet access 
provides health professionals and consumers with a means of accessing 
the medical literature provided by NLM and other databases, of 
transferring files and images, and of interacting by e-mail with others 
throughout the world. NLM’s Internet Connection program was created in 
recognition that many health-related organizations, particularly 
smaller ones and those in rural and/or urban health-underserved areas, 
lack resources to initiate Internet access even at a time when such 
access is available to most.

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), “Internet Connection for Health Institutions”, is 
related to one or more of the priority areas.  Potential applicants may 
obtain a copy of "Healthy People 2010" at 
http://www.health.gov/healthypeople/

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

U.S. public and private, non-profit institutions engaged in health 
administration, education, research, promotion and/or clinical care are 
eligible to apply.  “Health-related” includes medicine, dentistry, 
nursing, pharmacy, veterinary medicine, and other activities related to 
the promotion of health and the prevention and treatment of disease. 
Hospitals, clinics, community health centers, libraries, public health 
facilities, units of state and local governments are some examples of 
eligible organizations. NLM expects that many of the applications will 
come from institutions that serve rural, inner city or other under-
served areas. Racial/ethnic minority individuals, women, and those with 
disabilities are encouraged to apply.as Principal Investigators for 
these projects. Groups (or cooperatives) of health-related institutions 
are also eligible to apply.  A single, lead institution must apply on 
behalf of the group. 

MECHANISM OF SUPPORT

This RFA uses the National Library of Medicine (NLM) Resource Grant 
(G08) 
mechanism. Facilities and administrative (F&A) costs are not provided.  
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 may 
not exceed one year. For a single institution, support is available up 
to $30,000, a group of institutions may receive up to $50,000 to 
support development of a multi-institution.
This RFA is a one-time solicitation issued as a complement to Program 
Announcement PAR 97-023, entitled “NLM Internet Connection”. The 
anticipated award date is September 28, 2001.

FUNDS AVAILABLE

Funds available for this RFA are approximately $600,000. The number of 
awards to be made is estimated to be approximately fifteen. Although 
the financial plans of the NLM 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. 
Although applications for Internet Connection grants are also accepted 
at the usual submission deadlines for new grants listed at 
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/dates.htm, 
applicants interested in these grants are strongly advised to respond 
to this RFA.  

OBJECTIVES

Background

The Internet has become an essential infrastructure in the health 
environment. It provides an abundance of resources such as: 
communication services including electronic mail and discussion groups, 
direct access to scientific and health-related information resources, 
including digital libraries, MEDLINE via PubMed, and a host of federal 
and private sector databases, direct tele-health services, and access 
to supercomputers and remote scientific sensing instruments. Despite 
its promise as a tool for improving health, the Internet has not been 
adopted as quickly in health-related organizations as it has in other 
industries. NLM encourages all varieties of health institutions to use 
the Internet to gain access to these rich resources, and to one 
another.

Scope

The purpose of this RFA is to encourage U.S. health institutions to 
connect to the Internet. NLM Internet Connection grants can be utilized 
for any of several related purposes:

o Installation of an Internet connection where none now exists. 
o Extension to other organizations from an institution with an 
existing connection.
o Broadening access within an institution whose existing Internet 
connection has limited access.

Some institutions may belong to organizations that are already 
connected to the Internet, in such a case, the NLM grant can be used to 
link a health entity to an existing Internet connection.  In other 
cases, the project will aid the institution in initiating a direct 
connection to the Internet Service Provider. 

The NLM Internet Connection grant supports the purchase and 
installation of equipment and services for connectivity to the 
Internet, including: gateway system and associated connection and 
security hardware, the cost of installation and leasing of 
communication circuits such as leased lines to connect to an Internet 
Service Provider, and the cost of Internet Service Provider fees during 
the grant period. 

The bandwidth selected for connection to the Internet Service Provider 
is a matter of judgment for each applicant. However, applicants are 
reminded that broader bandwidths will be more costly to maintain over 
the years, and should be justified by the intended use.  Proposals for 
wireless connection will be considered for areas where other forms of 
Internet connectivity are less feasible. 

Institutions are expected to fund personnel and personal computers. 
Costs for website development and end-user devices will not be covered 
by these grants.

In general, it is expected that institutions already have a local area 
network or will use their own funds to install a local area network to 
distribute wide access to the Internet within their organization. . 
Grant funds can be used to help local area network development only in 
unusual circumstances for which a strong justification can be 
furnished. A local area network is connected to the Internet by 
installing an IP router/gateway.  This gateway will link the local area 
network to an appropriate Internet Service Provider by means of leased 
or dial-up communication circuits of varying speeds.  The resultant 
connections to the Internet provided by the gateway should be made 
widely available to all appropriate personnel. 

Ideally the institution will have installed a high-speed local area 
network and have adopted TCP/IP (Transmission Control Protocol/Internet 
Protocol) as its standard communication protocol.  Where other 
networking protocols are used, the institution will be responsible for 
the installation of any additional network gateway systems required to 
resolve the protocol conversion issues so as to provide connectivity to 
the Internet gateway.

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 May 25, 2001, a letter 
of intent that includes the name, address and telephone number of the 
Project Director and the number and title of this RFA.  The letter of 
intent is not required, is not binding and does not enter into the 
review of subsequent applications. However, such a letter is encouraged 
because the information allows NLM staff to estimate the potential 
review workload and to plan the review.  The letter of intent is to be 
sent to Dr. Valerie Florance 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. These forms are available at most 
institutional offices of sponsored research and 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. 

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. 
Failure to use this label could result in delayed processing of the 
application. 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 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.

Applications must be received by June 22, 2001. Applications not 
received as a single package on the receipt date or not conforming to 
the instructions, including page limitations and font size, contained 
in PHS 398 (rev. 4/98) will be judged non-responsive and will be 
returned to the applicant. 

Suggestions And Guidelines For Completing PHS 398 (rev. 4/98)

Applicants should not feel daunted by the emphasis on research in the 
application form used for Internet Connection grants.  It may be useful 
for an applicant to think "project" whenever the form and instructions 
refer to "research".  Internet Connection grants are projects, not 
research applications, and applications will be evaluated in that 
spirit. 

Proposed uses of the Internet may support administration, education, 
research, patient care endeavors and health-related community outreach. 
Applicants are encouraged to include their library in the 
implementation activities

PHS 398 (rev.4/98) contains a number of parts. The following section 
outlines what is required in the project proposal. For tips on the 
submission process, visit the Frequently Asked Questions section at 
http://www.nlm.nih.gov/ep/faq.html. Advice on preparing 
the project plan is provided in the Toolkit at 
http://phpartners.org/toolkit.html.

a.  Specific Aims
Clearly state the project’s aims and relate them to the purposes of 
NLM"s Internet Connection Grant Program as published in this RFA.  Make 
sure to include among the stated objectives the training of users and, 
if necessary, technical staff. 

b.  Background and Significance
State the current situation in terms of unmet needs. Describe the 
target populations and potential uses for your Internet Connection 
project, along with your assessment of the project’s impact in terms of 
types and numbers of users who would benefit from Internet access.  
Provide this information for each site of a multiple-site application.

c.  Preliminary Studies/Progress Report
Describe the status of the existing local area network (intranet), the 
kinds of current and future users, and the extent of in-house technical 
expertise, to demonstrate Internet "readiness”. Report accomplishments 
to date in preparing for Internet connectivity, such as bringing a 
planning committee together.  

d.  Research Design and Methods
For each Specific Aim, explain how it will be achieved. Detail how 
Internet access will be implemented, that is, what tasks (such as 
obtaining name domain, assigning passwords, converting to TCP/IP) will 
be performed, who will perform them. Address each of the review 
criteria listed in the next section of this RFA.  The application must 
include a timetable for the training and implementation tasks.

e. and f. Not applicable              

g.  Literature Cited
As appropriate, include some references for Internet use that support 
your goals.    

h.  Consortium/Contractual Arrangements             
A Memorandum of Understanding is acceptable to define responsibilities 
of unaffiliated institutions participating in the Internet connection 
project.    

i.  Consultants              
If consultants will be used, attach letters confirming their 
participation.    

j.  Future Support             
Describe plans for financing Internet connection after NLM grant 
support ends. Estimate ongoing annual costs. Include commitment letter 
from administrator at each participating institution.  

Form Pages AA-HH: In addition to the project proposal outlined above, 
PHS 398 requires information about the applicant and project 
participants. Detailed instructions are provided with the application 
form. The following sections of PHS 398 should be tailored to the 
Internet Connection Grant as indicated.

Form Page DD
Though project personnel are not funded on Internet Connection grants, 
include their names and percentage of effort that will be contributed 
to the Internet Connection project.  Across the budget columns type 
“Contributed".    

Form Page EE             
For "Justification" describe role of all project personnel. If 
consultants are requested, provide a rationale for their involvement.  
Also describe equipment requested.    

Form Page FF                                                                                        
In the biographical sketch, include relevant skills of project 
personnel, such as Internet training, library skills, TCP/IP skills, 
networking expertise.

Form Page HH             
Complete a copy of this page for each participating site.  Delete left 
margin headings.  Provide a description of the institution including 
numbers and types of potential users.  Under "Major Equipment" describe 
the existing local area network (or Intranet) and indicate the number 
of personal computers that are connected.  Attach a network diagram if 
one is available.    

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)

Applications must be received by 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.

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.  The CSR will not accept any application that is 
essentially the same as one already reviewed. This does not preclude 
the submission of substantial revisions of applications already 
reviewed, but such applications must include an introduction addressing 
the previous critique.

At the time of submission, two additional copies of the application 
should be sent to:

Merlyn Rodrigues, M.D., Ph.D.
Office of Scientific Review
Division of Extramural Programs
National Library of Medicine
Rockledge One Building, Suite 301
6705 Rockledge Drive
Bethesda, MD  20892

REVIEW CONSIDERATIONS

Upon receipt, applications will be reviewed for completeness by the NIH 
Center for Scientific Review, and for responsiveness by NLM. Incomplete 
and 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 merit by an appropriate peer review group 
convened by the NLM in accordance with the review criteria stated 
below. As part of the merit review, all applications will receive a 
written critique and undergo a process in which only those applications 
deemed to have the highest merit, generally the top half of 
applications under review, will be discussed and assigned a priority 
score, and receive a second level review by NLM’s Board of Regents. For 
more information on peer review and an explanation of priority scores, 
see http://www.nlm.nih.gov/ep/faq2.html#Peer.

REVIEW CRITERIA

Standard review criteria for NIH grant applications include:

(1) Significance
(2) Approach
(3) Innovation 
(4) Investigator
(5) Environment 

Additional Review Considerations

The NIH review criteria were developed for biomedical research 
applications. Because Internet Connection applications are resource 
projects rather than investigation, NLM has modified its review 
criteria accordingly.  To satisfy NLM’s reviewers, applicants should 
cover the following points in appropriate sections of the 
application: 

o Significance of proposed uses, and the nature of the benefits 
anticipated from Internet access. The Review Committee will pay 
particular attention to intended use and perceived value.
o Involvement of library staff in Internet training and user 
assistance.
o Extent and kind of local infrastructure, including plans to 
provide broad internal institutional access once the Internet 
gateway is installed.
o Plan for offering user services and proposed training of new 
users and, if needed, of technical staff.
o Technical expertise in computer networking of existing staff 
(especially TCP/IP based networking) or plans to provide such 
expertise including coordination with appropriate Internet 
service provider.
o An explanation of security measures to be taken if the connection 
will be used to transmit personal health information.
o Plans for future support of the network connection once grant 
funding has ended.
o Availability of local Internet service Provider.
o Method for assessing successful completion of each specific aim.

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

SCHEDULE

Letter of Intent Receipt Date:  May 25, 2001
Application Receipt Date:       June 22, 2001
Scientific Peer Review Date:    August 2001  
Award Date:                     September 2001

INQUIRIES

Written, electronic, and telephone inquiries concerning this RFA are 
welcome.  Applicants are encouraged to contact the National Network of 
Medical Libraries (NN/LM) member in their region to discuss the grant, 
to request samples of funded Internet Connection Grants, or for a 
letter of support. Contact information for NN/LM libraries is available 
at 1-800-338-7657 or at http://www.nnlm.nlm.nih.gov/.

All applicants, particularly those relatively unfamiliar with the 
application form and with NIH procedures, should consult NLM staff for 
assistance as needed. Direct inquiries regarding programmatic issues 
to:

Dr. Valerie Florance
Division of Extramural Programs
National Library of Medicine
Rockledge One Building, Suite 301
6705 Rockledge Drive
Bethesda, MD  20892
Telephone:  (301) 594-4882
FAX:  (301) 402-2952
Email:  floranv@mail.nlm.nih.gov
 
Direct inquiries regarding fiscal matters to:

Ms. Arnita Miles
Grants Management Specialist
Division of Extramural Programs
National Library of Medicine
Rockledge One Building, Suite 301
6705 Rockledge Drive
Bethesda, MD 20892
Telephone:  (301) 496-4221
FAX:  (301) 402-0421
Email:  milesa@mail.nlm.nih.gov

AUTHORITY AND REGULATIONS

The Resource Grant Program is described in the "Catalog of Federal 
Domestic Assistance" under Medical Library Assistance, Chapter 93.879. 
Grants will be awarded under the authority of the Public Health Service 
Act, Section 474(42 USC 286b-5) and administered under PHS grant 
policies and Federal Regulations, most specifically at 42 CFR Part 59a 
and 45 CFR Part 74.  This program is not subject to the inter-
governmental 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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