Full Text PA-97-087
 
HEARING AID IMPROVEMENT PROGRAM
 
NIH GUIDE, Volume 26, Number 25, August 1, 1997
 
PA NUMBER:  PA-97-087
 
P.T.


Keywords: 

 
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
National Aeronautics and Space Administration
 
PURPOSE
 
The National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
(NIDCD) and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA)
seek research grant applications from multidisciplinary teams to
support research needed to transfer federally developed technology to
hearing aids, including, but not limited to, the following areas: (1)
novel algorithms for signal processing; (2) technologies applicable
to hearing aid hardware; and (3) advanced microelectronics.
 
Although not participating in the preliminary activities with the
National Aeronautics and Space Administration that led to this
Program Announcement, the National Institute on Aging (NIA) has a
strong interest in the development of hearing aids that would
significantly improve the quality of life of the many elderly persons
who suffer from age-related hearing loss; NIA supports both basic and
technology-related research in this area.
 
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 PA,
Hearing Aid Improvement Program, is related to the priority area of
diabetes and chronic disabling conditions.  Potential applicants 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
 
Applications may be submitted by domestic and foreign, for-profit and
non-profit organizations, public and private, such as universities,
colleges, hospitals, laboratories, units of state and local
governments, and eligible agencies of the Federal government.
Applications from minority individuals, women, and individuals with
disabilities are encouraged.
MECHANISM OF SUPPORT
 
The mechanism of support will be the individual
investigator-initiated research project grant (R01) award.  The
NIDCD/NASA are prepared to fund three to five awards in an amount not
to exceed $1,000,000 total costs (direct and indirect costs) for FY
1998.  Because the nature and scope of the research proposed in
response to the PA may vary, it is anticipated that the size of the
awards will vary.  However, awards pursuant to this PA are contingent
upon the availability of funds for this purpose.
 
RESEARCH OBJECTIVES
 
Background
 
Hearing aids continue to be the management of choice for many people
with sensorineural hearing loss.  Although hearing aids allow for
improved hearing function in many situations, they provide limited
benefit in noisy and other adverse listening environments.  Thus,
user satisfaction remains low for these problematic conditions.
However, progress in the miniaturization of circuits and transducers
now allows a wide range of signal processing functions to be
incorporated into very small devices, thereby alleviating some of the
cosmetic concerns expressed by many hearing aid users.
 
Various signal processing algorithms, technologies and
microelectronics have been developed for security, military and space
applications, yet many of these have not been applied to hearing
aids. The NIDCD, NASA and the Department of Veterans Affairs agreed
in 1995 to initiate a federal technology transfer program for hearing
aids by developing partnerships among scientists, industry and
Federal laboratories for commercialization of promising technologies
for the benefit of individuals with hearing impairment.  A search of
Federal laboratories for acoustic and electronic technologies that
might improve hearing aids was completed in September, 1996 utilizing
a NASA contract with Research Triangle Institute (RTI).  The
identified technologies were reviewed at the National Institute of
Standards and Technology, and the most promising were selected for
presentation by their developers at the NIDCD/NASA/VA Hearing Aid
Improvement Conference: Facilitating Partnerships for Technology
Transfer held on May 1 and 2, 1997 on the NIH campus in Bethesda,
Maryland.  Scientists, representatives of hearing aid and hearing aid
component manufacturers, and individuals from Federal laboratories
attended the conference.  The purpose of the conference was to
initiate the development of partnerships among scientists, hearing
aid or hearing aid component manufacturers and Federal laboratories
to carry out research that will lead to the commercialization of the
promising technologies.  This joint NIDCD/NASA Program Announcement
is a solicitation for applications to support multidisciplinary
collaborative research needed to transfer promising technologies into
practical implementation of improvements in hearing aid performance.
 
Objectives
 
The goals and scope of this joint NIDCD/NASA Program Announcement
include, but are not limited to:
 
1.  Development, assessment, and implementation of technologies that
have the potential to contribute to improved hearing aid performance
and that constitute advances in signal processing or
microelectronics.
 
2.  Technology transfer support, in which academic/industrial teams
work cooperatively with a Federal Laboratory and/or Federally funded
grantee or contractor, to apply a Federally developed or funded
technology to hearing aid improvement.
 
Appropriate topics that will address the fundamental issues of
hearing aid performance include, but are not limited to:
 
1.  Innovative algorithms and approaches to acoustic signal
processing, resulting in reduced background noise, increased speech
intelligibility, and improved sound quality.
 
2.  New technologies applicable to hearing aid hardware, such as
improved microphones and remote control devices.
 
3.  Implementation of low power consumption microelectronics
appropriate for use in hearing aids.
 
It is anticipated that multidisciplinary teams will be formed among
scientists, hearing aid or hearing aid component manufacturers and
Federal or Federally supported laboratories that developed the
technology.  Participation of hearing aid or hearing aid component
manufacturers in these projects is essential to stimulate early
assessment of commercial viability and to facilitate technology
implementation.
 
INCLUSION OF WOMEN AND MINORITIES IN RESEARCH INVOLVING HUMAN
SUBJECTS
 
It is the policy of the NIH that women and members of minority groups
and their subpopulations must be included in all NIH supported
biomedical and behavioral research projects involving human subjects,
unless a clear and compelling rationale and justification is provided
that inclusion is inappropriate with respect to the health of the
subjects or the purpose of the research. This new policy results from
the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993 (Section 492B of Public Law
103-43) and supersedes and strengthens the previous policies
(Concerning the Inclusion of Women in Study Populations, and
Concerning the Inclusion of Minorities in Study Populations), which
have been in effect since 1990.  The new policy contains some
provisions that are substantially different from the 1990 policies.
 
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, Volume 23, Number 11,
March 18, 1994.
 
Investigators also may obtain copies of the policy from the program
staff listed under INQUIRIES.  Program staff may also provide
additional relevant information concerning the policy.
 
APPLICATION PROCEDURES
 
The research grant application form PHS 398 (rev. 5/95) is to be used
in applying for these grants.  These forms 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@odrockm1.od.nih.gov.  Application kits may also be obtained
electronically via the WWW at
http://www.nih.gov/grants/phs398/phs398.html.
The title and number of the program announcement must be typed in
Section 2 on the face page of the application.
 
The completed original and five legible copies must be sent or
delivered to:
 
DIVISION OF RESEARCH GRANTS
NATIONAL INSTITUTES OF HEALTH
6701 ROCKLEDGE DRIVE, ROOM 1040 - MSC 7710
BETHESDA, MD  20892-7710
BETHESDA, MD  20817 (express/courier service)
 
Applications will be received on the standard NIH application receipt
dates, with an initial application receipt date of October 1, 1997.
The earliest date of award is July, 1998.
 
If the application submitted in response to this program announcement
is substantially similar to a grant application already submitted to
the NIH for review, but not yet reviewed, the applicant will be asked
to withdraw either the pending application or the new one.
Simultaneous submission of identical applications will not be
allowed, nor will essentially identical applications be reviewed by
different review committees.  Therefore, an application cannot be
submitted in response to this announcement that is essentially
identical to one that has already been 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 will be evaluated for scientific and technical merit by
an appropriate peer review group convened by the Division of Research
Grants in accordance with 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, assigned a priority
score, and receive a second level review by the National Deafness and
Other Communication Disorders Advisory Council.
 
The review criteria are: scientific, technical, or medical
significance and originality of proposed research; appropriateness
and adequacy of the experimental approach and methodology proposed to
carry out the research; qualifications and research experience of the
Principal Investigator and staff, particularly, but not exclusively,
in the area of the proposed research; availability of the resources
necessary to perform the research; appropriateness of the proposed
budget and duration in relation to the proposed research; and
adequacy of plans to include both genders and minorities and their
subgroups as appropriate for the scientific goals of the research.
Plans for the recruitment and retention of subjects will also be
evaluated.
 
AWARD CRITERIA
 
Applications will compete for available funds with all other
applications in response to this PA. The following will be considered
in making funding decisions: quality of the proposed project as
determined by peer review; availability of funds; and program
priorities among research areas of the program announcement.
 
INQUIRIES
 
Written, telephone, and email inquiries concerning this PA are
encouraged; the opportunity to clarify any issues or questions from
potential applicants is welcome.
 
Direct inquiries regarding scientific content to:
 
Amy M. Donahue, Ph.D.
Chief, Hearing and Balance/Vestibular Sciences Branch
Division of Human Communication
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
Executive Plaza South, Room 400-C
6120 Executive Boulevard MSC 7180
Bethesda, MD  20892-7180
Telephone:  (301) 402-3458
FAX:  (301) 402-6251
Email:  Amy_Donahue@nih.gov
 
Direct inquiries regarding fiscal matters to:
 
Sharon Hunt
Chief, Grants Management Branch
National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders
6120 Executive Boulevard, Room 400-B, MSC 7180
Bethesda, MD  20892-7180
Telephone:  (301) 402-0909
FAX:  (301) 402-1758
Email:  Sharon_Hunt@nih.gov
 
AUTHORITY AND REGULATIONS
 
This program is described in the Catalog of Federal Domestic
Assistance No. 93.173. Awards are made under authorization of the
Public Health Service Act, Title IV, Part A (Public Law 78-410, as
amended by Public Law 99-158, 42 USC 241 and 285) and administered
under PHS grants policies and Federal Regulations 42 CFR 52 and 45
CFR Part 74.  This program is not subject to intergovernmental review
requirements of Executive Order 12372 or Health Systems Agency
review.
 
The PHS strongly encourages all grant and contract recipients to
provide a smoke-free workplace and promote the non-use of all tobacco
products.  In addition, Public Law 103- 227, the Pro- Children Act of
1994, prohibits smoking in certain facilities (or in some cases, any
portion of a facility) in which regular or routine education,
library, day care, health care or early childhood development
services are provided to children.  This is consistent with the PHS
mission to protect and advance the physical and mental health of the
American people.
 
.

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