NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON AGING: PILOT RESEARCH GRANT PROGRAM

Release Date:  January 9, 1998

PA NUMBER:  PAR-98-021

P.T.

National Institute on Aging

Application Receipt Dates:  March 17, 1998; July 17, 1998; November 17, 1998

PURPOSE

The National Institute on Aging (NIA) is seeking small grant (R03) applications
in specific areas to: (1) stimulate and facilitate the entry of promising new
investigators into aging research, or (2) encourage established investigators to
enter new targeted, high priority areas in this research field.  This Small Grant
(R03) Program provides support for pilot research that is likely to lead to a
subsequent individual research project grant (R01) and /or a significant
advancement of aging research.

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 Program Announcement (PA), National
Institute on Aging:  Pilot Research Grant Program, is related to several priority
areas applicable to aging.  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 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.  Racial/ethnic minority individuals, women, and persons with
disabilities are encouraged to apply as principal investigators.  Foreign
organizations and institutions are not eligible.  Participation in the program
by investigators at minority institutions is strongly encouraged.

New or established investigators are eligible to apply for this award. (1) For
a new investigator to be eligible the individual should be in the first five
years of his or her independent research career. If the applicant is in the final
stages of training it is permissible to apply for an R03 but no award will be
made to individuals who are still in training or fellowship status at the time
of award. (2) For an established investigator to be eligible, the individual must
propose research that is unrelated to a currently funded research project in
which the investigator participates.

MECHANISM OF SUPPORT

Applicants may request up to $50,000 (direct costs) for one year through the
small grant (R03) mechanism. These awards are not renewable.  Before completion
of the R03, investigators are encouraged to seek continuing support for research
through a research project grant (R01).

Replacement of the Principal Investigator on this award is not permitted. 
Revisions of applications previously reviewed under this initiative but unfunded
are not permitted.

RESEARCH OBJECTIVES

Investigators may apply for a small grant in one of the following areas.
Applications for support in other areas will be returned to the proposed
Principal Investigator without review. Investigators should follow the
instructions described under APPLICATION PROCEDURES to identify the topic on
which the application is focused.

1.  HIV/AIDS and aging: Behavioral, social, clinical, neuroscientific, and/or
biological research on older people infected by, and affected by, HIV/AIDS. 
Prevention sciences research is encouraged and both basic and applied research
are welcomed.

2.  Racial and ethnic differences: Studies on causes of differences among ethnic
and racial groups in susceptibility to age-related disease and dysfunction.

3.  Cartilage aging/Osteoarthritis (OA): Studies of the basic underlying
mechanisms of cartilage aging, including changes in cartilage turnover, signal
transduction and regulation of cartilage gene expression; and pilot studies of
new clinical diagnostic tools for OA (e.g., novel imaging techniques, new or
improved methods to quantitate data from radiographs or MRI scans; and
identification of potential biochemical markers for OA).

4.  Cardiovascular and cerebrovascular aging: Behavioral, social, clinical, and
biological studies of cardiovascular and cerebrovascular aging. Clinical studies
include systems physiology and integrative approaches to defining age-associated
changes in the cardiovascular, cerebrovascular, pulmonary or renal systems and
how these changes increase the risk of developing cardiovascular and
cerebrovascular disease.

5.  Alternatives to estrogen therapy: Preliminary clinical studies to explore
potential therapeutic benefits, feasibility, and/or risks of administering
selective estrogen receptor modulators (SERMs) to middle-aged and older women and
men to prevent, retard or treat a variety of age-related disorders such as
osteoporosis, cardiovascular disease and Alzheimerþs disease. Potential
therapeutics may include pharmaceuticals or naturally occurring substances, such
as phytoestrogens.

6.  Reproductive aging: Molecular and cellular mechanisms of reproductive aging:
areas include prostate growth in middle-aged and older subjects (see PA-93-052,
Prostate Growth in Older Men: Age-dependent Mechanisms); biology of the
menopausal process (see PA-95-006, Biology of the Menopause: Change of Ovarian
Function) including molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying development of
cardiovascular and brain pathology; and neuroendocrine mechanisms underlying
reproductive senescence.

7.  Nutrient modulation: Mechanisms that underlie nutrient modulation of
cellular, tissue and organ integrity during the aging process. This might include
but is not limited to nutrient modulation/control of cell repair and
regeneration, cell-cell signaling, and transport mechanisms at the molecular
level.

8.  DNA polymorphisms: Studies to identify DNA polymorphisms in candidate genes
that may affect age-related pathologies and/or lifespan in either human or animal
models.

9.  Gene expression vectors: Development and/or use of conditional gene
expression vectors for the regulation of aging- and cell-specific gene
expression.

10.  Enhancing self care and management: How older people recognize and act upon
new illness symptoms and/or manage everyday chronic conditions and how they
interact with their health care providers. Three types of research are solicited:
1) basic research exploring the patterns, dynamics and processes of self care
behaviors practiced by older adults; 2) the design, implementation, and
evaluation of theoretically based self-care interventions; and 3) either basic
or intervention studies examining the nature and outcomes of older-patient/health
provider medical encounters and interactions.

11.  Social and structural factors in health care: Interactions between changing
health care systems and the needs of aging persons in an aging society:1) impact
of the type of health care organization on clinical outcomes, patient
satisfaction, and/or provider satisfaction; 2) health and social consequences of
a change in the usual source, quality, and quantity of health care at the time
of Medicare enrollment; 3) effect of managed care's prevention model on clinical
and behavioral outcomes in an aging patient base; and 4) the dynamic interplay
between changing needs of aging persons and changing health care delivery system
characteristics.

12.  Death and dying: Research on understanding the role of family, care
providers, and relevant social institutions upon decreasing the trauma and
difficulty of end-of-life decisions.  Research on the dying process as a normal
life transition within a social context is also solicited.

13.  Social psychology of aging: Interplay among psychological processes and
personal relationships in the immediate social environment as people age in
regard to: 1) close interpersonal relationships (friends and family) in midlife
and old age; and 2) social cognition (e.g., knowledge schemas, collaborative
cognition, emotion and motivation, self regulation, self evaluation, and
attitudes and beliefs including stereotypes and automaticity; (see PA-97-065,
Social Cognition and Aging, NIH Guide, Vol. 26, No. 19, June 6, 1997).

14.  Personality in adulthood and old age: Studies of stability and change in
personality with age; personality, health and disease; personality and
environment; personality and genetics; and age-related differences in personality
by socioeconomic class, gender, and racial/ethnic groups.

15.  Behavior genetics and aging: Suggested areas for behavior genetics and aging
research in both humans and animals include attention, processing speed, memory,
intelligence, training, emotionality, sense of control, motivation, and temporal
organization.

16.  Sensory and motor processing: Mechanisms underlying changes in sensory and
motor processing in the aging nervous system and in sensory receptors.

17.  Attention and frontal lobe function: Studies of neural mechanisms of age-
related changes in attention and frontal lobe executive processes.  Development
of specific behavioral tasks of attention and other areas of cognition for use
in evaluation of animal models generated through genetic and molecular
manipulations.

18.  Neuronal tissue RNA metabolism: Regulation of RNA metabolism in cells of the
nervous system during aging and in age-related neurological disorders.

19.  Sleep and circadian processes: Mechanisms underlying changes in sleep and
circadian processes in older organisms. Studies at the molecular and cellular
level are encouraged.

20.  Blood-brain barrier: Research on changes that occur at the molecular level
in the blood brain barrier, especially its transport mechanisms, with age and
age-related diseases.

21.  Amyloid precursor protein: Studies of the normal function of the CNS amyloid
precursor protein. Studies of the amyloid beta protein are excluded.

22.  Pathogenic organisms: Susceptibility of the aging nervous system to
pathogenic organisms, and  neural, neuroendocrine and immune system mechanisms
and pathways modulating the aging immune system in response to such challenges.

23.  Non-neuronal cells in the nervous system: Studies on the function and
plasticity of neuroglial/non-neuronal cells in aging that examine cellular and
molecular factors controlling cell activation, death, regional specificity,
receptor and transport activities, and mitochondrial alterations.

24.  Genetic epidemiology: Preliminary genetic epidemiologic research on
longevity, active life expectancy, or slow rate of progression of age-related
pathologies.  Examples include analyses of existing familial, demographic, and/or
epidemiologic data for feasibility and power calculations; pilot testing of
proband-identification and recruitment strategies; identifying families with high
frequencies of these traits; determining the frequency of known polymorphisms,
and/or estimating their contribution to the phenotype of interest. (See also
program announcement on Secondary Analysis in Demography and Economics of Aging.)

25.  Vaccines and immune response: Preliminary clinical studies designed to
contribute to the improvement of vaccines for use in elderly populations. These
may include studies of methods to improve the immune response in older persons
including alternate immunization schedules with existing vaccines or the use of
new vaccines.  Human clinical studies designed to characterize age-related immune
dysfunction are also appropriate as they may contribute to the identification of
potentially correctable deficiencies.

26.  Cancer and aging: Studies on the current and future magnitude of the cancer
problem for persons aged 80 years and older regarding incidence, survival, and
clinical impact. Topics include: Approaches to overcoming the practical problems
of acquiring data on this age segment of cancer patients; tumor-related tissue
studies, autopsy investigations, characterization of cancer as it interfaces with
other chronic diseases prominent in the elderly.  Development of clinical
assessment tools(i.e., prognostic indicators for patient evaluation and work-up)
that can be used by physicians to determine the patientþs overall physical and
physiologic health status may be included in this solicitation.

The National Institute on Aging will modify the selected topic areas annually by
reissuing the program announcement. Information on other initiatives supported
by NIA may be found at the following internet address: http://www.nih.gov/nia.

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.  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 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

Applications are to be submitted on the grant application form PHS 398 (rev.
5/95) and prepared according to the directions in the application packet, with
the exceptions noted below.  Application kits are available at most institutional
offices of sponsored research and may be obtained from the Division of Extramural
Outreach and Information Resources, National Institutes of Health, 6701 Rockledge
Drive, MSC 7910, Bethesda, MD 20892-7910, telephone (301) 435-0714, FAX (301)
480-0525, Email: ASKNIH@OD.NIH.GOV.  On the face page of the application: Item
2 Type "NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON AGING: PILOT RESEARCH GRANT PROGRAM - PAR-98-021." 
Check the "YES" box.

Abstract: The first line of the abstract must list the number and title of the
particular research topic (see RESEARCH OBJECTIVES) being responded to and
whether the principal investigator is a new or established investigator.

Research plan: Do not exceed a total of ten pages for the following parts (a-d):
specific aims, background and significance, progress report/preliminary studies,
and experimental design and methods.  Tables and figures are included in the ten
page limitation.  Applications that exceed the page limitation or PHS
requirements for type size and margins  (Refer to PHS 398 application for
details) will be returned to the investigator.  The ten page limitation does not
include parts e through i. (Human Subjects, Vertebrate Animals, Literature Cited,
Consortium Arrangements, Consultants).

Appendix: The only items that may be included in an appendix are original glossy
photographs or color images of gels, micrographs, etc., provided that a photocopy
(that may be reduced in size) is also included within the 10 page limit of items
a-d in the research plan. No photographs or color images may be included in the
appendix that are not also represented in the Research Plan. Do not include
publications or preprints.

Materials submitted after the receipt date. No additional materials pertaining
to a particular application will be accepted after the receipt date for which the
application is submitted except for certifications of Institutional Review Board
(IRB) or Institutional Animal Care and Use Committee (IACUC) approval. As
specified in the PHS 398 form, certifications of IRB or IACUC approval must be
received within 60 days after the receipt date for which the application is
submitted.

Submit a signed, original of the application, and three exact photocopies,
including the checklist, in one package to:

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

In addition, to expedite the review of the application, submit two additional
exact photocopies of the application directly to:

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

In order not to delay review, it is important that applicants comply with this
request.  Amended applications will not be accepted.

The submission, review, and award schedule for the Small Grant Program for 1998
is:

Application Receipt Dates:   03/17/98     07/17/98    11/17/98
Institute Committee Review:  June-July    Oct-Nov     Feb-March
Earliest Funding:            Sep 1998     Jan 1999    May 1999

Only one Small Grant application may be submitted by a principal investigator per
receipt date.  Applicants may not submit other research project grant
applications on the same topic concurrent (to be considered at the same review
cycle) with the submission of a Small Grant application.

REVIEW CONSIDERATIONS

Applications will be assigned on the basis of established PHS referral
guidelines. Applications that are complete will be evaluated for scientific and
technical merit by an appropriate peer review group convened 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, assigned a priority score,
and receive a second level review by the appropriate national advisory council
or board.

Review Criteria

The goals of NIH-supported research are to advance our understanding of
biological systems, improve the control of disease, and enhance health.  In the
written review, comments on the following aspects of the application will be made
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 the assignment of the overall score.

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 a pilot
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 appropriately trained and well suited to
carry out this work?  Is the work proposed appropriate to the experience level
of the principal investigator and 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?

The initial review group will also examine: the likelihood that the pilot project
will lead to the development of an R01 application, or significant advancement
of aging research; the appropriateness of proposed project budget and duration;
the adequacy of plans to include both genders and minorities and their subgroups
as appropriate for the scientific goals of the research and plans for the
recruitment and retention of subjects; the provisions for the protection of human
and animal subjects; and the safety of the research environment.

AWARD CRITERIA

Applications will compete for available funds with all other approved
applications.  The following will be considered in making funding decisions:

o  quality of the proposed project as determined by peer review
o  availability of funds
o  program priority

INQUIRIES

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

For applications with primary emphasis on the biology of aging contact:

Dr. David B. Finkelstein
Biology of Aging Program
National Institute on Aging
7201 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 2C231, MSC 9205
Bethesda, MD  20892-9205
Telephone:  (301) 496-6402
FAX:  (301) 402-0010
Email:  BAPquery@exmur.nia.nih.gov

For applications with primary emphasis on behavioral or social research on aging
contact:

Ms. Angie Chon-Lee
Behavioral and Social Research Program
National Institute on Aging
7201 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 5C533, MSC 9205
Bethesda, MD  20892-9205
Telephone:  (301) 594-5943
FAX:  (301) 402-0051
Email:  BSRquery@exmur.nia.nih.gov

For applications with primary emphasis on the neuroscience or neuropsychology of
aging contact:

Dr. Judy Finkelstein
Neuroscience and Neuropsychology of Aging Program
National Institute on Aging
7201 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 3C307, MSC 9205
Bethesda, MD  20892-9205
Telephone:  (301) 496-9350
FAX:  (301) 496-1494
Email: NNAquery@exmur.nia.nih.gov

For applications with primary emphasis on geriatrics research contact:

Ms. Wanda Solomon
Geriatrics Program
National Institute on Aging
7201 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 3E327 MSC 9205
Bethesda, MD  20892-9205
Telephone:  (301) 435-3046
FAX:  (301) 402-1784
Email: GPquery@exmur.nia.nih.gov

Direct inquiries regarding fiscal matters to:

Mr. Joe Ellis
Grants and Contracts Management Office
National Institute on Aging
7201 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 2N212, MSC 9205
Bethesda, MD  20892
Telephone:  (301) 496-1472
FAX:  (301) 402-3672
Email:  ellisJ@exmur.nia.nih.gov

AUTHORITY AND REGULATIONS

This program is described in the Catalogue of Federal Domestic Assistance No.
93.866.  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 the intergovernmental
review requirements of Executive Order 12372 or Health Systems Agency review.

The PHS strongly encourages all grant and contract recipients to provide a smoke-
free workplace and promote the non-use of all tobacco products.  In addition,
Public Law 103-227, the Pro-Children Act of 1994, prohibits smoking in certain
facilities (or in some cases, any portion of a facility) in which regular or
routine education, library, day care, health care or early childhood development
services are provided to children.  This is consistent with the PHS mission to
protect and advance the physical and mental health of the American people.


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