Part I Overview Information


Department of Health and Human Services

Participating Organizations
National Institutes of Health (NIH), (http://www.nih.gov)

Components of Participating Organizations
National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH), (http://www.nimh.nih.gov)
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), (http://www.nidcd.nih.gov)
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), (http://www.nichd.nih.gov)
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), (http://www.ninds.nih.gov)
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), (http://www.niehs.nih.gov)
National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR), (http://www.ninr.nih.gov)
Office of Dietary Supplements (ODS), (http://ods.od.nih.gov)

Title:  Research on Autism and Autism Spectrum Disorders (R21)

Announcement Type
This is a reissue of PA-04-085, which was previously released April 2, 2004, and is now divided into separate FOAs for R01, R21, and R03 funding mechanisms.

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

NOTICE: Applications submitted in response to this FOA for Federal assistance must be submitted electronically through Grants.gov (http://www.grants.gov) using the SF424 Research and Related (R&R) forms and SF424 (R&R) Application Guide.

APPLICATIONS MAY NOT BE SUBMITTED IN PAPER FORMAT.

This FOA must be read in conjunction with the application guidelines provided with this announcement in Grants.gov/Apply for Grants (hereafter called Grants.gov/Apply).

A registration process is necessary before submission and applicants are highly encouraged to start the process at least 4 weeks prior to the grant submission date. See Section IV.

Program Announcement (PA) Number: PA-06-392

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number(s)
93.242, 93.113, 93.115, 93.173, 93.361, 93.865, 93.853

Key Dates
Release/Posted Date: May 4, 2006
Opening Date: May 4, 2006
(earliest date an application may be submitted to Grants.gov).
NOTE:  On time submission requires that applications be successfully submitted to Grants.gov no later than 5:00 p.m. local time (of applicant institution/organization).
Letters of Intent Receipt Date(s): Not Applicable
Application Submission Date(s):  Standard dates apply, please see http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/funding/submissionschedule.htm for details.
AIDS Application Submission Date(s): Not Applicable
Peer Review Date(s): Standard dates apply, please see http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/funding/submissionschedule.htm#reviewandaward.
Council Review Date(s): Standard dates apply, please see http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/funding/submissionschedule.htm#reviewandaward.
Earliest Anticipated Start Date(s): Standard dates apply, please see http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/funding/submissionschedule.htm#reviewandaward.
Additional Information To Be Available Date (Activation Date):  Not applicable
Expiration Date: New Date September 8, 2009 (per NOT-MH-09-003), Original Expiration Date: March 2, 2009 (Changed to May 8, 2009 per NOT-OD-07-093)

Due Dates for E.O. 12372
Not Applicable

Additional Overview Content

Executive Summary

Table of Contents


Part I Overview Information

Part II Full Text of Announcement

Section I. Funding Opportunity Description
1. Research Objectives

Section II. Award Information
1. Mechanism of Support
2. Funds Available

Section III. Eligibility Information
1. Eligible Applicants

      A. Eligible Institutions
      B. Eligible Individuals
2. Cost Sharing or Matching
3. Other - Special Eligibility Criteria

Section IV. Application and Submission Information
1. Request Application Information
2. Content and Form of Application Submission
3. Submission Dates and Times
    A. Submission, Review, and Anticipated Start Dates
          1. Letter of Intent
    B. Sending an Application to the NIH
    C. Application Processing
4. Intergovernmental Review
5. Funding Restrictions
6. Other Submission Requirements

Section V. Application Review Information
1. Criteria
2. Review and Selection Process
    A. Additional Review Criteria
    B. Additional Review Considerations
    C. Sharing Research Data
    D. Sharing Research Resources
3. Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates

Section VI. Award Administration Information
1. Award Notices
2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements
3. Reporting

Section VII. Agency Contact(s)
1. Scientific/Research Contact(s)

2. Peer Review Contact(s)
3. Financial/Grants Management Contact(s)

Section VIII. Other Information - Required Federal Citations

Part II - Full Text of Announcement


Section I. Funding Opportunity Description


1. Research Objectives

Current classification systems (e.g., DSM-IV) include five separate diagnoses under the Pervasive Developmental Disorders:  Autistic Disorder, Rett's Disorder, Childhood Disintegrative Disorder, Asperger's Disorder, and Pervasive Developmental Disorder Not Otherwise Specified.  Collectively, these Pervasive Developmental Disorders are often referred to as “Autism Spectrum Disorders.”  These disorders share a cluster of impairments in reciprocal social interaction and communication and/or the presence of stereotyped behavior, interests, and activities.  These complex disorders are usually of lifelong duration and affect multiple aspects of development, learning, and adaptation in the community, and thus represent a pressing public health need.  The etiologies of these disorders are poorly understood, but are thought to include genetic, metabolic, immunologic, or infectious or other environmental influences.

Clinical research involving these disorders requires well-integrated, multi-disciplinary, methodologically-rigorous scientific approaches and access to a sufficient number of well-characterized patients with these disorders.  Basic research into the pathophysiology of autism and autism spectrum disorders, including research on brain mechanisms and genetics, is of special interest.  Also of high priority are clinical and applied investigations that may lead to the development of diagnostic research instruments, treatments, and intervention strategies.  Specific areas of interest thus include epidemiology, early identification and diagnosis, genetic studies, brain mechanisms, communication skills, cognitive neuroscience, psychosocial (behavioral) interventions, pharmacological and other biological interventions, and support and rehabilitative services across the life-span, including adulthood and the transition to adulthood.

Areas of interest include, but need not be limited to, the following:

Epidemiology:  Studies of the genetic and environmental epidemiology of autism to determine risk and protective processes in the etiology of autism, including environmental exposures during pregnancy and early childhood; longitudinal studies of high-risk populations; epidemiologic research on interactive genetic and environmental processes that increase or decrease risk for autism; research on the expression of the full range of autism spectrum disorders; studies of their developmental course across the life-span; studies that characterize the range of expression within families; and research on co-occurring features, especially research that characterizes and quantifies risk and protective processes associated with co-occurrence.  Also of interest are clinical epidemiologic studies of autism spectrum disorders in clinical settings, including studies of clinical decision-making in personal-encounter care for individuals and families.

Screening, Early Identification, and Diagnosis:  Key diagnostic and phenotypic features associated with various stages of development; development of new screening tools for use in a variety of settings; assessment of comorbid features including hyperactivity, attentional dysfunctions, epilepsy, and obsessive and compulsive symptoms; the creation of new measures to be used in longitudinal studies and measures that further differentiate the subtypes of autism spectrum disorders; and, developmental factors relevant to reliable and valid diagnosis.

Genetic Studies:  Family-based association analysis and other linkage disequilibrium approaches that aim to identify specific susceptibility genes; studies of epigenetic mechanisms and long range control of gene expression; high-resolution mapping and positional cloning studies; resolution of locus heterogeneity; analysis of the interaction of autism susceptibility genes with environmental exposures and/or genes responsive to environmental insult; testing for potential candidate genes.  An area of particular interest is the effect of genetic factors on therapeutic drug response in autistic individuals (see Pharmacogenomics, below).

Brain Mechanisms:  Studies of brain mechanisms underlying the development, regulation, and modulation of behaviors characterizing autism and autism spectrum disorders, particularly those mechanisms involving communication and social interaction; studies of brain mechanisms and biological factors underlying autistic regression, or the loss of previously acquired skills; studies of brain mechanisms involved in the development of abnormal electroencephalograms and epilepsy and studies to clarify the subtypes of seizures and seizure disorders in autism; studies to define the neurobiological basis of neurological abnormalities and neuropsychiatric symptoms, including motor stereotypies, gait abnormalities, akinesias, dyskinesias, obsessive/compulsive traits, and the exacerbation of these symptoms, including the role of neuroimmune/autoimmune factors; studies that seek to define basic processing deficits using neuropsychological and cognitive neuroscience techniques; studies to develop animal models of brain dysfunction in autism and autism spectrum disorders, based on either genetic or environmental factors or their interaction.

Cognitive Science:  Developmental studies of relevant behaviors during infancy including attention to social and nonsocial stimuli, affective behavior, gaze, vocalization, imitation, initiative, reciprocity, attachment, play, compliance, and self-recognition and their emergence in children with autism and autistic spectrum disorders; research on the delays and deviations in social behavior and cognition during preschool and middle school, including empathy, receptive social cognitive deficits (i.e., difficulties understanding others), and expressive difficulties; studies leading to more sophisticated tests of higher cognitive functioning, especially in social, communicative, reasoning, and problem-solving areas, as well as tests of basic attentional, emotional and cognitive deficits that may underlie these deficits or be precursors to them; studies of theory of mind, of unconventional verbal behaviors, and of the sensory-motor factors involved in relevant social cognition; and the development, validation, and refinement of interventions designed to address deficits in complex social and cognitive abilities or their developmental precursors; interventions designed to lessen or remediate cognitive deficits.

Communication Skills:  Longitudinal, developmental studies of behaviors that are precursors to later communication and their emergence in children with autism and autistic spectrum disorders; sensory, motor, and social-cognitive impairments that impact upon interaction and communication; predictors of loss of or regression in expressive language abilities; interventions designed to remediate communication and related deficits across the life-span.

Pharmacological/Biological Interventions:  Studies aimed at developing and testing the efficacy and safety of pharmacological agents that specifically target the core features of autism and autistic spectrum disorders; studies of the efficacy and safety of pharmacological and combined treatments for the most common and impairing psychopathology associated with autism (e.g., hyperactivity, impulsivity, aggression, self-injury, and obsessive-compulsive symptoms); studies that relate characteristics of individuals (or diagnostic subtypes) to therapeutic response and treatment outcomes (also see “Pharmacogenomics”, below);  new approaches to treatment that build on advances in neuroscience, genetics, immunology, and other neurobiologic fields; focused interventions that test specific theories or hypotheses regarding possible neuropathogenesis; studies that address the benefits of combined drug and cognitive, behavioral, or psychosocial interventions; development of innovative methodologies and outcome measures.

Pharmacogenomic Studies:  Construction and analysis of SNP haplotypes that predict therapeutic response or adverse reactions to drugs; correlation of drug response profiles with intermediate phenotypes (e.g., brain imaging, neurophysiology, learning and memory, sustained attention); identification of biomarkers to resolve clinical heterogeneity and heterogeneity of therapeutic drug response;  application of high-throughput approaches to screen for drug candidates metabolized by or inhibitors of polymorphic drug-metabolizing enzymes, e.g., CYP2D6; studies of genetically determined functional changes in nuclear and cell surface receptors to explain the ineffectiveness of therapeutic agents and adverse or paradoxical drug responses; studies of allelic variation occurring in individual transporter genes that are associated with a functional consequence.

Psychosocial Interventions:  Studies developing new treatments (e.g., behavioral, cognitive-behavioral) and studies validating, refining, and comparing approaches to the treatment of persons with autism and autism spectrum disorders and their families, as well as studies that analyze and define the critical features of effective intervention; studies that relate characteristics of individuals (or diagnostic subtypes) to treatment outcomes; research on relevant contextual factors including physical and community environments, parent-child and sibling-child relationship factors, and peer-child interactions; studies addressing generalization or the transfer of learning from one setting to another; studies that develop and test interventions for infants and toddlers with confirmed or suspected autism spectrum disorders; studies that develop and test interventions to outcome in school and community settings throughout the lifespan; development of innovative methodologies and outcome measures.

Services Research:  Research on the organization, delivery, coordination, and financing of services for persons with autism spectrum disorders, and their families, within or across service settings; studies aimed at better identifying and addressing changes in service and rehabilitative needs across the life-span, including during transitions from childhood to adolescence, and adolescence to adulthood; interventions to improve the quality and outcomes of treatment and rehabilitation services; studies to develop improved measures of adaptive capabilities for children, adolescents, and adults with autism spectrum disorders; studies of ways to coordinate or integrate services across settings including specialty mental health, general health, and other settings such as educational, vocational, and housing services, in order to maximize receipt of appropriate services; and research on the economic factors effecting the delivery of needed services and treatments including cost-benefit, cost-effectiveness, and cost utility analyses of service interventions.

The evolution and vitality of the biomedical sciences require a constant infusion of new ideas, techniques, and points of view.  These may differ substantially from current thinking or practice and may not yet be supported by substantial preliminary data.  By using the R21 mechanism, the NIH seeks to foster the introduction of novel scientific ideas, model systems, tools, agents, targets, and technologies that have the potential to substantially advance biomedical research. 

The R21 mechanism is intended to encourage new exploratory and developmental research projects.  For example, such projects could assess the feasibility of a novel area of investigation or a new experimental system that has the potential to enhance health-related research.  Another example could include the unique and innovative use of an existing methodology to explore a new scientific area.   These studies may involve considerable risk but may lead to a breakthrough in a particular area, or to the development of novel techniques, agents, methodologies, models, or applications that could have a major impact on a field of biomedical, behavioral, or clinical research.

Applications for R21 awards should describe projects distinct from those supported through the traditional R01 mechanism.  For example, long-term projects, or projects designed to increase knowledge in a well-established area, will not be considered for R21 awards.  Applications submitted under this mechanism should be exploratory and novel.  These studies should break new ground or extend previous discoveries toward new directions or applications. 

See Section VIII, Other Information - Required Federal Citations, for policies related to this announcement.

Section II. Award Information


1. Mechanism of Support

This FOA will use the NIH Exploratory/Developmental Research Grant (R21) award mechanism. As an applicant, you will be solely responsible for planning, directing, and executing the proposed project.  

This FOA uses just-in-time concepts. It also uses the modular budget formats (see the “Modular Applications and Awards” section of the NIH Grants Policy Statement. Specifically, since you are submitting an application with direct costs in each year of $250,000 or less (excluding consortium Facilities and Administrative [F&A] costs), use the PHS398 Modular Budget component provided in the SF424 (R&R) Application Package and SF424 (R&R) Application Guide (see specifically Section 5.4, “Modular Budget Component,” of the Application Guide).

Exploratory/developmental grant support is for new projects only; competing renewal (formerly “competing continuation”) applications will not be accepted. Up to two resubmissions (formerly “revisions/amendments") of a previously reviewed exploratory/developmental grant application may be submitted. See NOT-OD-03-041, May 7, 2003.  

2. Funds Available

Because the nature and scope of the proposed research will vary from application to application, it is anticipated that the size and duration of each award will also vary. Although the financial plans of the Institutes and Centers (ICs) provide support for this program, awards pursuant to this funding opportunity are contingent upon the availability of funds and the submission of a sufficient number of meritorious applications.

The total project period for an application submitted in response to this funding opportunity may not exceed 2 years. Although the size of award may vary with the scope of research proposed, it is expected that applications will stay within the budgetary guidelines for an exploratory/developmental project; direct costs are limited to $275,000 over an R21 two-year period, with no more than $200,000 in direct costs allowed in any single year. Applicants may request direct costs in $25,000 modules, up to the total direct costs limitation of $275,000 for the combined two-year award period. NIH grants policies as described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement will apply to the applications submitted and awards made in response to this Program Announcement funding opportunity.

Facilities and Administrative (F&A) costs requested by consortium participants are not included in the direct cost limitation. See NOT-OD-05-004.  

Section III. Eligibility Information


1. Eligible Applicants

1.A. Eligible Institutions

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

1.B. Eligible Individuals

Any individual with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research as the Project Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) is invited to work with his/her organization 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 support.

2. Cost Sharing or Matching

This program does not require cost sharing as defined in the current NIH Grants Policy Statement.

3. Other-Special Eligibility Criteria

Applicants may submit more than one application, provided each application is scientifically distinct.

Section IV. Application and Submission Information


To download a SF424 (R&R) Application Package and SF424 (R&R) Application Guide for completing the SF424 (R&R) forms for this FOA, link to http://www.grants.gov/Apply/ and follow the directions provided on that Web site.

A one-time registration is required for institutions/organizations at both:

PD/PIs should work with their institutions/organizations to make sure they are registered in the eRA Commons.

Several additional separate actions are required before an applicant institution/organization can submit an electronic application, as follows:

1) Organizational/Institutional Registration in Grants.gov/Get Started

2) Organizational/Institutional Registration in the eRA Commons

3) Project Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) Registration in the NIH eRA Commons: Refer to the NIH eRA Commons System (COM) Users Guide.

Note that if a PD/PI is also an NIH peer-reviewer with an Individual DUNS and CCR registration, that particular DUNS number and CCR registration are for the individual reviewer only. These are different than any DUNS number and CCR registration used by an applicant organization. Individual DUNS and CCR registration should be used only for the purposes of personal reimbursement and should not be used on any grant applications submitted to the Federal Government.

Several of the steps of the registration process could take four weeks or more. Therefore, applicants should immediately check with their business official to determine whether their organization/institution is already registered in both Grants.gov and the Commons. The NIH will accept electronic applications only from organizations that have completed all necessary registrations.

1. Request Application Information

Applicants must download the SF424 (R&R) application forms and SF424 (R&R) Application Guide for this FOA through Grants.gov/Apply.

Note: Only the forms package directly attached to a specific FOA can be used. You will not be able to use any other SF424 (R&R) forms (e.g., sample forms, forms from another FOA), although some of the "Attachment" files may be useable for more than one FOA.

For further assistance, contact GrantsInfo: Telephone 301-435-0714, Email: GrantsInfo@nih.gov.

Telecommunications for the hearing impaired: TTY 301-451-5936.

2. Content and Form of Application Submission

Prepare all applications using the SF424 (R&R) application forms and in accordance with the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide (MS Word or PDF).

The SF424 (R&R) Application Guide is critical to submitting a complete and accurate application to NIH. There are fields within the SF424 (R&R) application components that, although not marked as mandatory, are required by NIH (e.g., the “Credential” log-in field of the “Research & Related Senior/Key Person Profile” component must contain the PD/PI’s assigned eRA Commons User ID). Agency-specific instructions for such fields are clearly identified in the Application Guide. For additional information, see “Tips and Tools for Navigating Electronic Submission” on the front page of “Electronic Submission of Grant Applications.”

The SF424 (R&R) application is comprised of data arranged in separate components. Some components are required, others are optional. The forms package associated with this FOA in Grants.gov/APPLY will include all applicable components, required and optional. A completed application in response to this FOA will include the following components:

Required Components:
SF424 (R&R) (Cover component)
Research & Related Project/Performance Site Locations
Research & Related Other Project Information
Research & Related Senior/Key Person
PHS398 Cover Page Supplement
PHS398 Research Plan
PHS398 Checklist
PHS398 Modular Budget

Optional Components:
PHS398 Cover Letter File
Research & Related Subaward Budget Attachment(s) Form
Note: While both budget components are included in the SF424 (R&R) forms package, the NIH R21 uses ONLY the PHS398 Modular Budget. (Do not use the detailed Research & Related Budget.)

Foreign Organizations
Several special provisions apply to applications submitted by foreign organizations:

Proposed research should provide special opportunities for furthering research programs through the use of unusual talent, resources, populations, or environmental conditions in other countries that are not readily available in the United States or that augment existing U.S. resources.

3. Submission Dates and Times

See Section IV.3.A for details.

3.A. Submission, Review, and Anticipated Start Dates

Opening Date: May 4, 2006 (earliest date an application may be submitted to Grants.gov)
Letter of Intent Receipt Date(s): Not applicable
Application Submission Date(s): http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/submissionschedule.htm
AIDS Application Submission Date(s): http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/funding/submissionschedule.htm#AIDS
Peer Review Date(s):  http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/funding/submissionschedule.htm#reviewandaward
Council Review Date(s) http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/funding/submissionschedule.htm#reviewandaward
Earliest Anticipated Start Date(s): http://grants1.nih.gov/grants/funding/submissionschedule.htm#reviewandaward

3.A.1. Letter of Intent

A letter of intent is not required for the funding opportunity.

3.B. Sending an Application to the NIH

To submit an application in response to this FOA, applicants should access this FOA via http://www.grants.gov/Apply and follow steps 1-4. Note:  Applications must only be submitted electronically.  PAPER APPLICATIONS WILL NOT BE ACCEPTED. 
 
3.C. Application Processing

Applications may be submitted on or after the opening date and must be successfully received by Grants.gov no later than 5:00 p.m. local time (of the applicant institution/organization) on the application submission/receipt date(s). (See Section IV.3.A. for all dates.) If an application is not submitted by the receipt date(s) and time, the application may be delayed in the review process or not reviewed.

Once an application package has been successfully submitted through Grants.gov, any errors have been addressed, and the assembled application has been created in the eRA Commons, the PD/PI and the Authorized Organization Representative/Signing Official (AOR/SO) have two business days to view the application image.

·        If everything is acceptable, no further action is necessary. The application will automatically move forward for processing by the Division of Receipt and Referral, Center for Scientific Review, NIH, after two business days.

Upon receipt, applications will be evaluated for completeness by the Center for Scientific Review, NIH. Incomplete applications will not be reviewed.

There will be an acknowledgement of receipt of applications from Grants.gov and the Commons. Information related to the assignment of an application to a Scientific Review Group is also in the Commons. 

The NIH will not accept any application in response to this FOA that is essentially the same as one currently pending initial merit review unless the applicant withdraws the pending application. The NIH will not accept any application that is essentially the same as one already reviewed. This does not preclude the submission of an application already reviewed with substantial changes, but such application must include an “Introduction” addressing the previous critique. Note such an application is considered a "resubmission" for the SF424 (R&R).

4. Intergovernmental Review

This initiative is not subject to intergovernmental review.

5. Funding Restrictions

All NIH awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Pre-Award Costs are allowable. A grantee may, at its own risk and without NIH prior approval, incur obligations and expenditures to cover costs up to 90 days before the beginning date of the initial budget period of a new award if such costs: are necessary to conduct the project, and would be allowable under the grant, if awarded, without NIH prior approval. If specific expenditures would otherwise require prior approval, the grantee must obtain NIH approval before incurring the cost. NIH prior approval is required for any costs to be incurred more than 90 days before the beginning date of the initial budget period of a new award.

The incurrence of pre-award costs in anticipation of a competing or non-competing award imposes no obligation on NIH either to make the award or to increase the amount of the approved budget if an award is made for less than the amount anticipated and is inadequate to cover the pre-award costs incurred. NIH expects the grantee to be fully aware that pre-award costs result in borrowing against future support and that such borrowing must not impair the grantee's ability to accomplish the project objectives in the approved time frame or in any way adversely affect the conduct of the project. See the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

6. Other Submission Requirements

The NIH requires the PD/PI to fill in his/her Commons User ID in the “PROFILE – Project Director/Principal Investigator” section, “Credential” log-in field of the “Research & Related Senior/Key Person Profile” component. The applicant organization must include its DUNS number in its Organization Profile in the eRA Commons. This DUNS number must match the DUNS number provided at CCR registration with Grants.gov. For additional information, see “Tips and Tools for Navigating Electronic Submission” on the front page of “Electronic Submission of Grant Applications.”

Renewal (formerly “competing continuation” or “Type 2”) applications are not permitted.  

All application instructions outlined in the SF424 (R&R) application are to be followed, with the following requirements for R21 applications:

Note: While each section of the Research Plan needs to be uploaded separately as a PDF attachment, applicants are encouraged to construct the Research Plan as a single document, separating sections into distinct PDF attachments just before uploading the files. This approach will enable applicants to better monitor formatting requirements such as page limits. All attachments must be provided to NIH in PDF format, filenames must be included with no spaces or special characters, and a .pdf extension must be used.

Plan for Sharing Research Data

A data sharing plan is not required; however, one may be proposed.  The precise content of the data-sharing plan will vary, depending on the data being collected and how the investigator is planning to share the data. Applicants who are planning to share data may wish to describe briefly the expected schedule for data sharing, the format of the final dataset, the documentation to be provided, whether or not any analytic tools also will be provided, whether or not a data-sharing agreement will be required and, if so, a brief description of such an agreement (including the criteria for deciding who can receive the data and whether or not any conditions will be placed on their use), and the mode of data sharing (e.g., under their own auspices by mailing a disk or posting data on their institutional or personal website, through a data archive or enclave). Investigators choosing to share under their own auspices may wish to enter into a data-sharing agreement. References to data sharing may also be appropriate in other sections of the application.  The reasonableness of the data sharing plan or the rationale for not sharing research data may be assessed by the reviewers. However, reviewers will not factor the proposed data sharing plan into the determination of scientific merit or the priority score.

Applications for genetic studies must include a data sharing plan.  Data and biomaterials from subjects included in genetic projects funded under this opportunity will be made available and distributed to the broader scientific community, in accordance with existing procedures and protocols for the NIMH Human Genetics Initiative.  Pharmacogenomic studies are expected to make data available for inclusion in PharmGKB (http://www.pharmgkb.org), an NIH-supported knowledge base for pharmacogenetic information (see below).  It is expected that the information to be shared includes all genetic, clinical and diagnostic information, in addition to cell lines and DNA.  It is preferable that data and materials generated in genetics projects funded under this opportunity should be placed in common, public cell repositories and databases that are widely accessible by investigators in the scientific community.  An NIMH-supported data management facility and cell repository - the NIMH Center for Collaborative Genetic Studies on Mental Disorders (http://nimhgenetics.org)- is such a community resource.  Further information is available from the NIMH program staff contact listed below.

It is expected that the investigator’s data sharing plan will specify the following elements:  (1) the creation of comprehensive and verified databases that contain all clinical, diagnostic, and genetic information collected and produced in the project; (2) the establishment of high-quality cell lines, from which DNA will be extracted and stored, for all subjects studied from whom blood samples have been obtained; (3) mechanisms by which all databases and biomaterials (DNA samples, cell lines) are widely distributed to qualified investigators in the scientific community; (4) a protocol for wide dissemination of these data and biomaterials; (5) a timetable for distribution; and (6) an assurance that data and biomaterials are disseminated in a manner comparable to pre-existing protocols and procedures for distributing such data and biomaterials in the NIMH Human Genetics Initiative (see http://zork.wustl.edu/nimh/NIMH_initiative/NIMH_initiative_link.html).

NIMH, in consultation with NIH’s Office of the General Counsel, the National Human Genome Research Institute's Ethical, Legal, and Social Implications Research Program and the Department of Health and Human Services' Office for Human Research Protections, has developed a model consent form for use in human genetic research at http://zork.wustl.edu/nimh/NIMH_initiative/NIMH_initiative_link.html .  Consent forms for pharmacogenomic studies should also include explicit disclosure that de-identified data will be posted to PharmGKB.

Sharing Research Resources

NIH policy requires that grant awardee recipients make unique research resources readily available for research purposes to qualified individuals within the scientific community after publication (See the NIH Grants Policy Statement  http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/nihgps_2003/NIHGPS_Part7.htm#_Toc54600131). Investigators responding to this funding opportunity should include a sharing research resources plan addressing how unique research resources will be shared or explain why sharing is not possible.

The adequacy of the resources sharing plan and any related data sharing plans will be considered by Program staff of the funding organization when making recommendations about funding applications. The effectiveness of the resource sharing will be evaluated as part of the administrative review of each Non-Competing Grant Progress Report (PHS 2590). See Section VI.3., “Reporting.”

Section V. Application Review Information


1. Criteria (Update: Enhanced review criteria have been issued for the evaluation of research applications received for potential FY2010 funding and thereafter - see NOT-OD-09-025).  

Only the review criteria described below will be considered in the review process.

2. Review and Selection Process

Applications submitted for this funding opportunity will be assigned to the ICs on the basis of established  PHS referral guidelines.

Appropriate scientific review groups convened in accordance with the standard NIH peer review procedures (http://www.csr.nih.gov/refrev.htm) will evaluate applications for scientific and technical merit.

As part of the initial merit review, all applications will:

Applications submitted in response to this funding opportunity will compete for available funds with all other recommended applications. The following will be considered in making funding decisions:

The NIH R21 exploratory/developmental grant is a mechanism for supporting novel scientific ideas or new model systems, tools, or technologies that have the potential to significantly advance our knowledge or the status of health-related research.  Because the Research Plan is limited to 15 pages, an exploratory/developmental grant application need not have extensive background material or preliminary information as one might normally expect in an R01 application.  Accordingly, reviewers will focus their evaluation on the conceptual framework, the level of innovation, and the potential to significantly advance our knowledge or understanding.  Reviewers will place less emphasis on methodological details and certain indicators traditionally used in evaluating the scientific merit of R01 applications, including supportive preliminary data. Appropriate justification for the proposed work can be provided through literature citations, data from other sources, or, when available, from investigator-generated data.  Preliminary data are not required for R21 applications; however, they may be included if available.   

The goals of NIH supported research are to advance our understanding of biological systems, to improve the control of disease, and to enhance health. In their written critiques, reviewers will be asked to comment on each of the following criteria 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.

Note that an 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 or clinical practice be advanced? What will be the effect of these studies on the concepts, methods, technologies, treatments, services, or preventative interventions that drive this field?

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

Innovation: Is the project original and innovative? For example: Does the project challenge existing paradigms or clinical practice; address an innovative hypothesis or critical barrier to progress in the field? Does the project develop or employ novel concepts, approaches, methodologies, tools, or technologies for this area?

Investigators: Are the investigators appropriately trained and well suited to carry out this work? Is the work proposed appropriate to the experience level of the PD/PI and other researchers? Does the investigative team bring complementary and integrated expertise to the project (if applicable)?

Environment: Does the scientific environment in which the work will be done contribute to the probability of success? Do the proposed studies benefit from unique features of the scientific environment, or subject populations, or employ useful collaborative arrangements? Is there evidence of institutional support?

2.A. Additional Review Criteria:

In addition to the above criteria, the following items will continue to 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 item 6 of the Research Plan component of the SF424 (R&R).

Inclusion of Women, Minorities and Children in Research:
The adequacy of plans to include subjects from both genders, all racial and ethnic groups (and subgroups), and children as appropriate for the scientific goals of the research will be assessed. Plans for the recruitment and retention of subjects will also be evaluated. See item 7 of the Research Plan component of the SF424 (R&R).

Care and Use of Vertebrate Animals in Research: If vertebrate animals are to be used in the project, the five items described under item 11 of the Research Plan component of the SF424 (R&R) will be assessed.

Biohazards: If materials or procedures are proposed that are potentially hazardous to research personnel and/or the environment, determine if the proposed protection is adequate.

2.B. Additional Review Considerations

Budget and Period of Support: The reasonableness of the proposed budget and the appropriateness of the requested period of support in relation to the proposed research may be assessed by the reviewers. Is the percent effort listed for the PD/PI appropriate for the work proposed? Is each budget category realistic and justified in terms of the aims and methods?

2.C. Sharing Research Data

Data Sharing Plan: The reasonableness of the data sharing plan or the rationale for not sharing research data may be assessed by the reviewers. However, reviewers will not factor the proposed data sharing plan into the determination of scientific merit or the priority score. The funding organization will be responsible for monitoring the data sharing policy. http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/data_sharing.

2.D. Sharing Research Resources

NIH policy requires that grant awardee recipients make unique research resources readily available for research purposes to qualified individuals within the scientific community after publication (See the NIH Grants Policy Statement  http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/nihgps_2003/NIHGPS_Part7.htm#_Toc54600131). Investigators responding to this funding opportunity should include a sharing research resources plan addressing how unique research resources will be shared or explain why sharing is not possible.

Program staff will be responsible for the administrative review of the plan for sharing research resources.

The adequacy of the resources sharing plan and any related data sharing plans will be considered by Program staff of the funding organization when making recommendations about funding applications. The effectiveness of the resource sharing will be evaluated as part of the administrative review of each Non-Competing Grant Progress Report (PHS 2590), See Section VI.3., “Reporting.”
 
3. Anticipated Announcement and Award Dates

Not applicable.

Section VI. Award Administration Information


1. Award Notices

After the peer review of the application is completed, the PD/PI will be able to access his or her Summary Statement (written critique) via the NIH eRA Commons

If the application is under consideration for funding, NIH will request "just-in-time" information from the applicant. For details, applicants may refer to the NIH Grants Policy Statement Part II: Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards, Subpart A: General.

A formal notification in the form of a Notice of Award (NoA) will be provided to the applicant organization. The NoA signed by the grants management officer is the authorizing document. Once all administrative and programmatic issues have been resolved, the NoA will be generated via email notification from the awarding component to the grantee business official.

Selection of an application for award is not an authorization to begin performance. Any costs incurred before receipt of the NoA are at the recipient's risk. These costs may be reimbursed only to the extent considered allowable pre-award costs. See Section IV.5., “Funding Restrictions.”       

2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements

All NIH grant and cooperative agreement awards include the NIH Grants Policy Statement as part of the NoA. For these terms of award, see the NIH Grants Policy Statement Part II: Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards, Subpart A: General  and Part II: Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards, Subpart B: Terms and Conditions for Specific Types of Grants, Grantees, and Activities.

3. Reporting

When multiple years are involved, awardees will be required to submit the Non-Competing Grant Progress Report (PHS 2590) annually and financial statements as required in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.

Section VII. Agency Contacts


We encourage your inquiries concerning this funding opportunity 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:

1. Scientific/Research Contacts:

Lisa Gilotty, Ph.D.
Division of Pediatric Translational Research and Treatment Development
National Institute of Mental Health
6001 Executive Blvd, Room 6179, MSC 9617,
Bethesda, MD 20892-9617
Telephone: (301) 443-3825
Fax: (301) 480-4415 
Email: gilottyl@mail.nih.gov

Judith Cooper, Ph.D.
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
Executive Plaza South, Room 400C-11 - MSC 7180
Bethesda, MD  20892-7180
Telephone:  (301) 496-5061
FAX:  (301) 402-6251
Email:  cooperj@nidcd.nih.gov

Alice Kau, Ph.D.
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
6100 Executive Boulevard, Room 4B09F, MSC 7510
Bethesda, MD  20892-7510
Telephone:  (301) 496-1383
FAX:  (301) 496-3791
Email:  kaua@mail.nih.gov

Deborah Hirtz, M.D.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 2212, MSC 9250
Bethesda, MD  20892-9250|
Telephone:  (301) 496-5821
FAX:  (301) 480-1080
Email:  dh83f@nih.gov

Cindy P. Lawler, Ph.D.
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
P.O. Box 12233, MD EC-23
Research Triangle Park, NC  27709
Telephone:  (919) 316-4671
FAX:  (919) 541-5064
Email:  lawler@niehs.nih.gov

Kathy Mann Koepke, Ph.D.
National Institute of Nursing Research
6701 Democracy Boulevard, Suite 7101, MSC 4870
Bethesda, MD  20892-4870
Telephone:  (301496-9623|
FAX:  (301) 480-8260
Email:  koepkek@mail.nih.gov

Paul M. Coates, Ph.D.
Director, Office of Dietary Supplements
National Institutes of Health
6100 Executive Boulevard, Suite 3B01, MSC 7517
Bethesda, MD 20892-7517
Telephone:  (301) 435-2920
FAX:  (301) 480-1845
Email: pc61s@nih.gov

2. Peer Review Contacts:
Not Applicable.

3. Financial or Grants Management Contacts:

Joy Knipple
Division of Extramural Activities
National Institute of Mental Health
6001 Executive Blvd, Room 6131, MSC 9605
Bethesda, MD 20892-9605
Telephone: (301) 443-8811
Fax: (301) 443-6885
Email: knipplej@mail.nih.gov

Christopher Robey
Grants Management Team Leader
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
6100 Executive Boulevard, Room 8A17K - MSC 7510
Bethesda, MD  20892-7510
Telephone:  (301) 435-6996
FAX:  (301) 480-4783
Email:  robeyj@mail.nih.gov

Christopher Myers
Grants Management Branch
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
6120 Executive Boulevard, Room 400B, MSC 7180
Bethesda, MD  20892-7180   
Telephone:  301-435-0713
Fax:  301-402-1758
Email: myersc@mail.nih.gov

Edward Myrbeck
Grants Management Branch
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 3290, MSC 9537
Rockville, MD  20852-9537
Telephone:  (301) 496-3938
FAX:  (301) 402-0219
Email:  myrbecke@ninds.nih.gov

Lerlita Garcia
Grants Management Branch
National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences
P.O. Box 12233, MD EC-22
Research Triangle Park, NC  27709
Telephone:  (919) 316-4638
FAX:  (919) 541-2860
Email:  garcial@niehs.nih.gov

Diane E. Drew
Office of Grants and Contracts Management
National Institute of Nursing Research
6701 Democracy Boulevard, Suite 7101, MSC 4870
Bethesda, MD  20892-4870
Telephone:  (301) 594-2807
FAX:  (301) 451-5651
Email:  diane_drew@nih.gov

Section VIII. Other Information


Required Federal Citations

Use of Animals in Research:
Recipients of PHS support for activities involving live, vertebrate animals must comply with PHS Policy on Humane Care and Use of Laboratory Animals (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/olaw/references/PHSPolicyLabAnimals.pdf) as mandated by the Health Research Extension Act of 1985 (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/olaw/references/hrea1985.htm), and the USDA Animal Welfare Regulations (http://www.nal.usda.gov/awic/legislat/usdaleg1.htm) as applicable.

Human Subjects Protection:
Federal regulations (45 CFR 46) 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). Monitoring should be commensurate with risk. The establishment of data and safety monitoring boards (DSMBs) is required for multi-site clinical trials involving interventions that entail potential risks to the participants (“NIH Policy for Data and Safety Monitoring,” NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/not98-084.html).

Sharing Research Data:
Investigators submitting an NIH application seeking $500,000 or more in direct costs in any single year are expected to include a plan for data sharing or state why this is not possible (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/data_sharing).

Investigators should seek guidance from their institutions, on issues related to institutional policies and local IRB rules, as well as local, State and Federal laws and regulations, including the Privacy Rule. Reviewers will consider the data sharing plan but will not factor the plan into the determination of the scientific merit or the priority score.

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 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 funding opportunity 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.

Sharing of Model Organisms:
NIH is committed to support efforts that encourage sharing of important research resources including the sharing of model organisms for biomedical research (see http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/model_organism/index.htm). At the same time the NIH recognizes the rights of grantees and contractors to elect and retain title to subject inventions developed with Federal funding pursuant to the Bayh Dole Act (see the NIH Grants Policy Statement. Beginning October 1, 2004, all investigators submitting an NIH application or contract proposal are expected to include in the application/proposal a description of a specific plan for sharing and distributing unique model organism research resources generated using NIH funding or state why such sharing is restricted or not possible. This will permit other researchers to benefit from the resources developed with public funding. The inclusion of a model organism sharing plan is not subject to a cost threshold in any year and is expected to be included in all applications where the development of model organisms is anticipated.

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” (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-02-001.html); a complete copy of the updated Guidelines is 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 SF424 (R&R) application; 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.

Inclusion of Children as Participants in Clinical Research:
The NIH maintains a policy that children (i.e., individuals under the age of 21) must be included in all clinical research, conducted or supported by the NIH, unless there are scientific and ethical reasons not to include them.

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 (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/children/children.htm).

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 applications for research involving human subjects and individuals designated as key personnel. The policy is available 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 (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.

NIH Public Access Policy:
NIH-funded investigators are requested to submit to the NIH manuscript submission (NIHMS) system (http://www.nihms.nih.gov) at PubMed Central (PMC) an electronic version of the author's final manuscript upon acceptance for publication, resulting from research supported in whole or in part with direct costs from NIH. The author's final manuscript is defined as the final version accepted for journal publication, and includes all modifications from the publishing peer review process.

NIH is requesting that authors submit manuscripts resulting from 1) currently funded NIH research projects or 2) previously supported NIH research projects if they are accepted for publication on or after May 2, 2005. The NIH Public Access Policy applies to all research grant and career development award mechanisms, cooperative agreements, contracts, Institutional and Individual Ruth L. Kirschstein National Research Service Awards, as well as NIH intramural research studies. The Policy applies to peer-reviewed, original research publications that have been supported in whole or in part with direct costs from NIH, but it does not apply to book chapters, editorials, reviews, or conference proceedings. Publications resulting from non-NIH-supported research projects should not be submitted.

For more information about the Policy or the submission process, please visit the NIH Public Access Policy Web site at http://publicaccess.nih.gov/ and view the Policy or other Resources and Tools, including the Authors' Manual.

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).

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 PA 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.

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 Part 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 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.

Loan Repayment Programs:
NIH encourages applications for educational loan repayment from qualified health professionals who have made a commitment to pursue a research career involving clinical, pediatric, contraception, infertility, and health disparities related areas. The LRP is an important component of NIH's efforts to recruit and retain the next generation of researchers by providing the means for developing a research career unfettered by the burden of student loan debt. Note that an NIH grant is not required for eligibility and concurrent career award and LRP applications are encouraged. The periods of career award and LRP award may overlap providing the LRP recipient with the required commitment of time and effort, as LRP awardees must commit at least 50% of their time (at least 20 hours per week based on a 40 hour week) for two years to the research. For further information, please see: http://www.lrp.nih.gov.


Weekly TOC for this Announcement
NIH Funding Opportunities and Notices


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