MINORITY DISSERTATION RESEARCH GRANTS IN AGING

NIH GUIDE, Volume 26, Number 37, November 7, 1997

RFA:  AG-98-001

P.T.

National Institute on Aging

Application Receipt Date: February 20, 1998

PURPOSE

Small grants to support doctoral dissertation research will be
available for minority doctoral candidates. Grant support is
designed to aid the research of new minority investigators and to
encourage minority individuals from a variety of academic
disciplines and programs to study topics relevant to aging.

HEALTHY PEOPLE 2000

The Public Health Service (PHS) is committed to achieving the
health promotion and disease prevention objectives of "Healthy
People 2000", a PHS-led national activity for setting priority
areas. This Request for Applications (RFA), Minority Dissertation
Research Grants in Aging, is related to several priority areas
applicable to aging. Potential candidates for the awards may obtain
a copy of "Healthy People 2000" (Full Report: Stock No.
017-001-00474-0 or Summary Report: Stock No. 017-001-00473-1)
through the Superintendent of documents, Government Printing
Office, Washington, DC 20402-9325 (telephone 202-512-1800).

ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS

For the purpose of this RFA, underrepresented minority students and
investigators are defined as individuals belonging to a particular
ethnic or racial group that has been determined by the grantee
institution to be underrepresented in biomedical or behavioral
research. Awards will be limited to citizens or non-citizen
nationals of the United States or to individuals who have been
lawfully admitted for permanent residence (i.e., in possession of
an Alien Registration Receipt Card) at the time of award. In
awarding grants for dissertation support, the NIA will give
priority to dissertation candidates who are African American
(Black), Hispanic American, Native American or Alaska Natives, or
Pacific Islanders, or other ethnic or racial group members who have
been found to be underrepresented in biomedical or behavioral
research nationally. The doctoral candidate must have a
dissertation topic approved by the named committee. This
information must be verified in a letter of certification from the
chair of the candidate's dissertation committee and submitted with
the grant application (see APPLICATION PROCEDURES). Research topics
must be on aging-related issues and fit within one or more of the
areas described below for each individual program (see RESEARCH
OBJECTIVES).

The applicant organization must be a domestic institution
supporting doctoral level training, such as a university or
college. The performance site may be foreign or domestic.

MECHANISM OF SUPPORT

The mechanism of support is the NIH small grant (R03). Grants may
be made for up to two years. Grants to support dissertation
research will provide no more than $30,000 in total direct costs,
and no more than $25,000 in direct costs in any one year.

FUNDS AVAILABLE

The NIA anticipates funding between 6 and 8 grants with a total
cost of up to $200,000. These grants are not eligible for
competitive renewal.

RESEARCH OBJECTIVES

This research initiative is to provide minority students assistance
to complete their dissertation research on an aging-related topic
and thereby increase the pool of minority researchers in aging. The
descriptions of the four extramural programs below are provided to
help potential applicants determine whether or not their topic may
be appropriate for this initiative. Questions on the relevance of
a particular topic may be addressed to the program contact listed
under INQUIRIES. Information on other initiatives supported by NIA
may be found at the following internet address:
http://www.nih.gov/nia.

Biology of Aging Program

This program supports studies that focus on the molecular
mechanisms involved in aging processes, and how these are affected
by genetic and environmental factors.  The overall objectives of
the program are to understand these natural processes and how
alterations of normal function can lead to age-related pathology. 
The program interests include biochemistry, molecular and cellular
biology, genetics, immunology, endocrinology, and basic nutrition.

Behavioral and Social Research Program

This program supports research on social and psychological aging
processes and the place of older people in society and its social
institutions. The emphasis is on promoting health, effective
functioning, productivity, and independence throughout the middle
and later years. Areas of special interest include health and
behavior; cognitive functioning; health care and long term care;
work, retirement and productivity; family and intergenerational
relationships; the demography of population aging; biodemography;
aging among minorities, women, oldest old, and rural populations;
and the aging of adults who are retarded.

Neuroscience and Neuropsychology of Aging Program

This program supports research on the structure and function of the
aging nervous system and the behavioral manifestations of the aging
brain. Areas of special interest include age-related changes in the
nervous system, especially as these affect sensory processes,
learning, cognition, memory and sleep. The study of Alzheimer's
disease and other disorders associated with the aging nervous
system, including the causes, diagnosis, epidemiology, treatment
and management of such disorders is of special interest.

Geriatrics Program

This program supports research on clinical issues and problems that
occur predominantly among middle-aged and older persons or that are
associated with increased morbidity and mortality in older people.
Areas of interest include cardiovascular and pulmonary diseases,
infectious diseases, osteoporosis, digestive diseases,
rehabilitation, menopause, and physical function and performance in
older persons.

SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS

Additional Material. In addition to the completed PHS 398 form
described under APPLICATION PROCEDURES, applicants must also
submit:

o  A letter from the university official (the chair of the
dissertation committee) directly responsible for supervising the
development and progress of the dissertation research.  The letter
should address the student's progress to date and the individual's
perceptions of the student's ability to develop into an independent
researcher on aging.  In addition, the letter must: (a) fully
identify the members of the faculty committee and certify their
approval of the dissertation topic, (b) certify that the candidate
is a member of an ethnic minority group underrepresented in
biomedical or behavioral science (see ELIGIBILITY REQUIREMENTS) (c)
certify that the author of the letter has read the application and
that it reflects the work to be completed in the dissertation, and
(d) note that the university official expects the doctoral
candidate to proceed with the approved project proposal with or
without NIA support.

o  A transcript of the investigator's graduate school record

o  Biography of the chair of the dissertation committee (i.e., the
mentor of the investigator), limited to 2 pages (use the
Biographical Sketch page in form PHS 398)

o  Statement of the investigator's career goals to be placed under
"Background" (see the Research Plan instructions in PHS 398)

Although not required, identification of the investigator's
particular minority group would be helpful so that NIA may continue
to monitor and improve the effectiveness of this program.

Grant Conditions. The following conditions apply to dissertation
grants:

o  The doctoral candidate must be the designated principal
investigator on the grant and the doctoral candidate must be the
only individual on the grant for whom salary support is requested.

o  The principal investigator's salary may not exceed $12,000 per
twelve months. An additional amount up to $3,000 per twelve months
may be included for fringe benefits.

o  Work on the funded project must be initiated within three months
after the date of the award.

o  An awardee may be invited to participate in a meeting or
presentation with other NIA dissertation awardees.

o  The dissertation constitutes the final report of the grant. Two
copies of the dissertation must be submitted. The dissertation must
be officially accepted by the faculty committee or university
official responsible for the candidate's dissertation and must be
signed by the responsible officials.

o  Investigators may request support for up to 24 months. An
application that requests support beyond this time will be
returned.

o  Grantees who are approved for two years of support must submit
a satisfactory progress report no later than 10 months after the
start of the first year of the grant. This report should contain a
brief summary of the work completed to date together with copies of
any publications supported wholly or in part by the dissertation
grant.

An applicant who receives support for dissertation research under
a grant from the NIA may not at the same time receive support under
a predoctoral or fellowship grant awarded by any Federal agency,
nor be supported under any other research project grant.

Allowable Costs. Expenses usually allowed under PHS research grants
will be covered by the NIA dissertation research grants, but may
not exceed $30,000 for the project. Allowable costs include the
investigator's salary (not to exceed $12,000 plus up to $3000 for
fringe benefits per 12 months); direct expenses such as travel to
one scientific meeting per year (limited to $1000 per year), data
processing, supplies, and dissertation costs. Any level of effort
that is less than full time for the candidate must be fully
justified. No tuition is allowed. It is expected that most
equipment needed for the research will be available at the site or
laboratory in which the dissertation is to be performed. Therefore,
any requests for equipment must be specially justified. Indirect
costs are limited to eight percent of requested direct costs, less
equipment.

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 are 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 have been
published in the Federal Register of March 28, 1994 (FR 59
14508-14513) and reprinted in the NIH Guide for Grants and
Contracts, Vol. 23, No. 11, March 18, 1994.

APPLICATION PROCEDURES

Applications are to be submitted on the grant application form PHS
398 (rev. 5/95).  Applications 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:
ASKNIH@od.nih.gov.

The RFA label available in the PHS 398 (rev. 5/95) 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 such that it may not reach the review committee in time
for review. In addition, the RFA title and number (Minority
Dissertation Research Grants in Aging, AG-98-001) must be typed on
line 2 of the face page of the application form and the YES box
must be marked.

Instructions for completing the applications are found in the PHS
398 form. These instructions must be followed except that under C.
Specific Instructions -Research Plan, no more than 10 pages may be
used for items 1 to 4 (instead of 25 pages as stated in the
standard instructions). Applications that exceed the 10 page limit
for this section will be returned.

Submit a signed original of the application (with the supporting
letter and graduate school transcript), including the Checklist,
and three signed photocopies, in one package to:

CENTER FOR SCIENTIFIC REVIEW (formerly Division of Research Grants)
NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH
6701 ROCKLEDGE DRIVE, ROOM 1040 - MSC 7710
BETHESDA, MD 20892-7710
BETHESDA, MD 20817 (for courier/overnight service)

At the time of submission, two additional copies of the application
(with the supporting letter and the graduate school transcript)
must be sent to:

Dr. Mary Nekola
Scientific Review Office
National Institute on Aging
7201 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 2C212, MSC 9205
Bethesda, MD 20892-9205
ATTN:  Minority Dissertation

Complete applications must be received by February 20, 1998.  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 an 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.

REVIEW CONSIDERATIONS

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 standard
NIH peer review procedures. 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 applications under
review, will be discussed and assigned a priority score.

Review Criteria

(1) 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?

(2) 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?

(3) Innovation:  Does the project employ novel concepts, approaches
or method? Are the aims original and innovative?  Does the project
challenge existing paradigms or develop new methodologies or
technologies?

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

(5) 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?

In addition to the above criteria, in accordance with NIH policy,
all applications will also be reviewed with respect to the
following criteria where they are applicable:

o  The adequacy of plans to include both genders, minorities, and
their subgroups as appropriate for the scientific goals of any
research activities.  Plans for the recruitment and retention of
subjects will also be evaluated.

o  The reasonableness of the proposed budget and duration in
relation to the proposed activities

o  The adequacy of the proposed protection for humans, animals or
the environment, to the extent they may be adversely affected by
the activities proposed in the application

AWARD CRITERIA

The anticipated date of award is July 1998. Final funding decisions
are based on the recommendations of the reviewers, the relevance of
the project to NIA priorities, and the availability of funds.

INQUIRIES

Inquiries concerning this RFA are encouraged. Interested
investigators are strongly encouraged to contact the person named
below who can provide clarifying information about material
described in this RFA. The investigator will then be referred to
the relevant program to discuss the suitability of the research
topic.

Dr. Robin A. Barr
Office of Extramural Affairs
National Institute on Aging
7201 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 2C218, MSC 9205
Bethesda, MD  20892-9205
Telephone:  (301) 496-9322
FAX:  (301) 402-2945
Email:  rb42h@nih.gov

Direct inquiries relating to fiscal matters to:

Mr. Joseph Ellis
Grants and Contracts Management Office
7201 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 2N212, MSC 9205
Bethesda, MD  20892-9205
Telephone:  (301) 496-1472
FAX:  (301) 402-3672
Email:  je14j@nih.gov

AUTHORITY AND REGULATIONS

This program is described in the Catalog of Federal Domestic
Assistance No. 93.866. Awards are made under authorization of the
Public Health Service Act Title IV, Part A (Public Law 79-410, as
amended by Public Law 99-158, 42 DSC 241 and 285) and administered
under PHS grants policies and Federal Regulations 42 CFR 52 and
45CFR Part 74. The requirements of Executive Order
12372,"Intergovernmental Review of Federal Programs," are not
applicable to NIA research grant programs.

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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