ALCOHOL RESEARCH CENTER GRANTS

Release Date:  April 15, 1999

RFA:  AA-99-005

P.T.

National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism

Letter of Intent Receipt Date:  November 30, 1999
Application Receipt Date:  December 28, 1999

PURPOSE

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) provides grant
support for Alcohol Research Centers to conduct interdisciplinary research on
alcoholism and alcohol abuse. The Center grants program is interrelated with and
complementary to all other research support mechanisms and scientific activities
that comprise the NIAAA programs of research on the nature, causes, and
consequences of alcohol abuse and alcoholism, including diagnosis, treatment,
prevention, and health services research related to prevention and treatment of
alcoholism.  The NIAAA currently supports 15 Centers and anticipates that the
level of support for this program will not expand during this competition. 
Support for four of the current 5-year Center grant awards will expire in late
2000.  Research within each of these four Centers is organized around a central
theme: epidemiology of alcohol problems, genetic determinants of neuroadaptation
to alcohol, pharmacotherapy in alcohol treatment and biobehavioral manifestations
of adolescent alcohol use.  Applications for new Centers in these and other
research areas will be accepted with applications from currently funded Centers
seeking renewal support.

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 RFA, Alcohol Research Center Grants,
is related to the priority area of alcohol abuse and alcoholism reduction.
Potential applicants may obtain a copy of "Healthy People 2000" at
http://www.crisny.org/health/us/health7.html

ELIGIBILITY

Any domestic public (non-Federal) or private non-profit or for-profit institution
may apply for a Center grant.  However, the proposed Center must be affiliated
with an institution, such as a university, medical center, or research center
that has the resources to sustain a long-term, coordinated research program.  An
applicant institution must demonstrate the ability to attract high-quality
scientists from biomedical, behavioral, and/or social science disciplines who are
willing to make a long-term commitment to research.  An application must also
have a detailed 5-year plan for a proposed research program.  In addition, the
applicant must assure that research-training opportunities will be available. 
Racial/ethnic minority individuals, women, and persons with disabilities are
encouraged to apply as Principal Investigators.

MECHANISM OF SUPPORT

The Alcohol Research Centers Grant program is designed to complement the regular
research project grants program of the NIAAA by providing long-term (typically
for 5 years) support for interdisciplinary research programs with a distinct
focus on a particular theme relating to alcoholism, alcohol abuse, and other
alcohol-related problems.  The program is intended to encourage outstanding
scientists from biomedical, behavioral, social science, and other relevant
disciplines to bring a full range of expertise, approaches, and advanced
technologies to the study of problems related to alcohol abuse and alcoholism. 
Center grants help to provide a stable environment for investigators to engage
in alcohol research in a coordinated and integrated effort.  A Center is expected
to be a source of scientific excellence, provide leadership to the field, and,
through sustained excellence, to become a significant regional or national
research resource.  In addition, the applicant institution is expected to afford
opportunities for research training to persons from various disciplines and
professions.

A specialized Center (P50) is a comprehensive, broad-based multidisciplinary,
multi-investigator, long-term program of combined research and research support
activity planned around a specific major research objective or research theme. 
In addition to providing support for shared resources, this type of Center
supports a full range of basic, developmental, clinical, and/or applied research
components; allows for growth and development through pilot projects; and is
intended to provide state-of-the-art leadership in the alcohol field.

FUNDS AVAILABLE

It is estimated that approximately five to six million dollars will be available
in FY 2001 to fund approximately four Centers.  The total cost (direct plus
Facilities and Administrative (F&A) costs) for a Center may not exceed $1.8
million per year. Continuation support in the future years is anticipated.

RESEARCH OBJECTIVES

All proposed research to be conducted within a Center must be clearly directed
toward one or more of the following goals: prevalence, etiology, diagnosis,
prediction, clinical course, management or treatment of alcohol abuse,
alcoholism, or alcohol-related health problems; health services research;
consequences of alcoholism or alcohol abuse; and factors that relate to
prevention of alcohol abuse, alcoholism, or other problems associated with
alcohol consumption. Some examples are research to improve knowledge of the
impact of alcohol use on related health issues, such as human development and
aging, cardiovascular integrity; disease pathogenesis and progression; liver and
gastrointestinal functioning; nicotine and other drug use; performance ability;
neurological impairment; and mental disorders that co-occur with alcohol abuse
disorders.

The Alcohol Research Center grant provides a mechanism for fostering
interdisciplinary cooperation in a group of established investigators conducting
high-quality alcohol research. Therefore, existence of a strong research
capability is fundamental to the establishment of a new Center or the
continuation of an existing Center.  A Center should be an identifiable
organizational unit within an institutional or organizational structure such as
a university, medical center, or a consortium of affiliated cooperating
institutions.  Unique scientific opportunities warrant collaboration with
investigators in other centers and/or with scientists in institutions outside the
United States.  In such cases the director of the components in which
collaborative activity with a foreign organization is proposed must be affiliated
with a domestic institution.

Center Components

The following paragraphs describe the specific components of a Center
application: 

Administrative Core Component 

A Center should promote synergistic interaction of broad and diverse elements
that require clearly specified lines of authority and accountability by
appropriate institutional officials.  The purpose of the administrative core
component is to provide the organizational framework for the management,
direction, and coordination of the Center.  The administrative core component
must be managed by the Center Director or Scientific Director and may include
funds for scientific enrichment activities such as special lectures, visiting
scientists, symposia, seminars, workshops etc.; and for education and research
dissemination activities for the public. 

Scientific Core Components 

Core components for this RFA are defined as shared research resources that
enhance productivity or in other ways benefit a group of investigators working
in alcohol-related research to accomplish the common goals of the Center.  A core
component is a laboratory, facility, service, or other resource that interacts
synergistically with research projects of the Center.  Cores should primarily be
used to support projects which are part of the Center Grant award, but they may
also be used for other support mechanisms such as Research Project Grants,
Program Projects, or a combination thereof, that have relevance to the NIAAA
mission. Core components should provide investigators with some technique,
instrumentation, service, or resource in a way that will enhance research
progress and contribute to efficiency and effectiveness.  Each core component is
directed by an investigator with established expertise relative to the support
or service to be provided, usually a faculty-level individual. Some examples of
research support that core components typically provide are: (1) technology that
implements automation or large batch preparation; (2) tissue and/or cell culture
facilities; (3) complex instrumentation, e.g., electron microscopy, mass
spectrometry, electrophysiology; (4) animal care and preparation; (5) service and
training; (6) patient coordination; and (7) information processing, data
management, and statistical services. 

Research Components 

Research components are individual scientific research projects, interrelated
within the overall Center program so that the components contribute collectively
to the goals of the Center program to a greater extent than if each project were
pursued separately.  Each research component must be a highly focused project
under the direction of a component director.  The component director should be
an established researcher of independent and scientifically recognized standing
who is responsible for the scientific direction and conduct of the individual
research component.  A Center Director or Scientific Director may also serve as
a component director. 

Pilot Project Component 

The purpose of pilot projects is to provide the Center with a flexible means to
develop and explore new research activities or directions, and unique scientific
opportunities that could evolve into independently funded research projects. 
These funds are not intended to supplement ongoing research projects.  Pilot
projects must be in a separate pilot project component that incorporates all of
the pilot studies of the proposed Center grant. 

SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS 

The following paragraphs describe the Special Requirements for a Center
application. Details for preparing the application are provided in the
"Supplemental Instructions," which are available from the program staff listed
under INQUIRIES.  It is essential that applicants carefully adhere to the
Supplemental Instructions. 

Center grant applications should be organized into discrete components that
comprise a proposed program of research.  Each component is either a research
component or a core component for which a separate detailed budget is included
in the application.  The application must include an administrative core and at
least three research components; it may also include shared scientific resource
cores and/or a pilot project component. 

The minimum acceptable combined number of research components and core components
is four (an administrative core and three research components).  The maximum
combined number of research components and core components, including a pilot
project component, are 10.  More than a total of 10 components is not acceptable
even if some components are in operation for less than the 5-year period.  All
proposed research components need not be ongoing at any one time, but may be
phased in at different time points during the life of the proposed Center grant. 
At least three research components must be ongoing at all times, and no more than
10 research and/or core components may be proposed over the entire project
period.  This aspect should receive careful attention in the application and
individual component preparation. 

The research plan for each core component and each research component is limited
to 25 pages. Pages not used for one component may not be used to extend the page
limit of other components/cores.  These page limits do not apply to pilot
projects.  For pilot project requirements, see section entitled "Pilot Project
Component,"(below). 

Administrative Core Component 

The administrative core component plays a key role in the coordination and
operation of the Center.  This core should be described in sufficient detail to
assure that all proposed components and related activities will function
optimally and in an interactive synergistic manner.  An important function of
this core is the administration of the budget.  Through this component, the
Center Director provides substantive leadership and manages the administrative
core component. This component may also include the costs of scientific
enrichment, education, and information dissemination activities.  The
administrative core should also provide for integration of Center functions. 

Scientific Core Components 

Each shared scientific resource component should be clearly described in terms
of the services/resources to be provided to investigators.  The description
should include a discussion of the core's contributions to the research
objectives of the Center.  Relevant aspects of cost effectiveness, timesaving,
and increased efficiency attributable to the existence of the cores should also
be addressed.  A core component should support Center grant research components
and may also support separately funded research project grants that are related
to the Center's theme.  Each separately funded research project associated with
the Center and utilizing core facilities should have a brief description that
includes its research objectives and how the Center's core facility will impact
upon it.  The minimum number of research components/projects supported by a core
component is two. 

A core component director who has documented experience and scientific expertise
relative to the purpose of the core must be designated for each core.  This
person should be an established scientist in his or her field.  The description
of the organization and mode of operation of the shared resource core should
include discussion of quality control for the service or resource, and the
procedures for evaluating and selecting projects eligible for use of the core
facility.  Training in complex techniques and methods should be described if they
are functions in proposed cores. Core components are intended to enhance
opportunities for investigators at the Center to include new technologies that
broaden their research initiatives.  While research per se is not conducted as
part of the scientific core, quality assurance activities that evaluate the
operation, resources, quality and utilization of the core and that are directed
at problem identification and improvement of core functioning are appropriate. 

In renewal applications, ongoing or completed core activity that has enhanced or
facilitated alcohol research should be described.  Past performance and
accomplishments of cores should be described, as should the effect of services
provided by cores on investigators' productivity. 

Research Components 

For each proposed research component, a clear description of the major goals,
objectives, and its integration with the other components in relation to the
overall Center program should be provided. 

-The question(s) to be addressed and the hypotheses to be tested by the proposed
research should be highly focused and fully explained.  

-A discussion of the design and procedures should describe the strategies
proposed to accomplish the specific aims of the project and highlight innovative
aspects of the approach. 

-A description of the resources and working arrangements required to implement
and conduct the proposed research should be fully elaborated with particular
attention devoted to a description of necessary resources, subjects, clinical
populations, tissue resources, etc., which will be involved in proposed studies. 
If core facilities are utilized, information on their use should be provided.

Pilot Project Component 

The process for selecting pilot projects should be fully, though concisely
described.  For the first 2 years that funds are requested for pilot projects,
the application must provide descriptions of the projects to be supported. For
years 03-05, the application must provide the specific number of pilots planned
in each year and a brief description of the anticipated direction of these
pilots.  While the specific number of pilot projects to be proposed is at the
discretion of the applicant, requested funding for pilot studies may not exceed
$100,000 or 10 percent (whichever is larger) of the direct cost budget proposed
for any 1 year. All proposed pilot projects need not be ongoing at any one time,
but may be phased in at different points during the life of the proposed Center
grant. It is recognized that the relative priority or need for specific pilot
projects may change over the course of time. 

While the Center's framework for management of pilot funds and the mechanism for
operating the program are left to the discretion of the Center, the application
must provide specific information to enable adequate scientific evaluation by a
peer review committee.  The application should include: 

-A full description of the management of the pilot project component, including
a description of the process to be followed by the Center Director in selecting
new pilot projects and replacing projects proposed in the application, should it
become necessary. 

-A full description of each pilot study proposed in the first 2 years, including
its rationale, objectives, approach, investigators, and significance for the
Center.  A description of the number and anticipated direction of pilot projects
in the 03-05 years, including their significance to the Center.  The research
description of any individual pilot project may not exceed five pages; the entire
narrative for this Pilot Project Component may not exceed 25 pages irrespective
of the number of pilot projects proposed. 

-For competing renewal applications, information should be provided in the pilot
project component description on the past experience of the Center in utilizing
pilot funds to further the goals.  The narrative should include an assessment of
the overall benefits derived from the availability of pilot resources. 

-A budget should be submitted for the pilot project component as a whole for each
year in which pilots are proposed.  For years 01 and 02 this budget will reflect
costs of pilots proposed in the application.  For years 03-05 the budget will
estimate cost based on the number and kind of work to be pursued.  In addition,
budget information should be provided for each individual pilot project including
those for the 03-05 years. 

See "Supplemental Instructions" for further information on pilot project
description requirements. 

Renewal Applications 

A comprehensive progress report is required for competing continuation (renewal)
applications. A statement must be included in the application regarding the
progress made by the Center as a whole in its development as a national or
regional research resource.  In addition, for each research component of the
existing Center grant, a succinct account of its published and unpublished
results must be provided, indicating progress toward achieving aims regardless
of whether the component has been submitted for renewal.  More specific details
are provided in the Supplemental Instructions. 

Facilities and Environment 

Applicants must demonstrate the availability of adequate laboratory, clinical,
and office facilities needed to carry out the objectives of the proposed Center
program.  Although not required, it is desirable for all Centers to have a
commitment for sufficient contiguous space so that the Center has a high degree
of cohesion and visibility.  Reference facilities affording access to relevant
literature must be readily available. It is expected that such reference
facilities will be the primary repository of additional reference materials that
may be obtained through Center funding.  Relevant support services, including
adequate data processing facilities, must also be readily accessible within or
through the institution.  Assurances of such support must be included with the
proposal. 

Organization and Administration

A Center must be an identifiable organizational unit with an administrative
structure and clear lines of authority which will facilitate coordination among
Center personnel to assure maximum accountability and efficiency in Center
operations.  An applicant must designate an institutional official to serve as
principal investigator for the Center grant and as Director of the Center.  The
institutional appointment of this person must provide sufficient authority to
allocate space, personnel, and other resources essential to the Center.  This
individual must demonstrate the ability to organize, administer, and direct the
Center.  The Director of the Center will have responsibility for planning and
coordination of the Center program, preparation of the budget and oversight of
expenditures, staff appointments, space allocation, and other aspects of
management and operation of the Center. 

Overall program management, coordination, communication, progress assessment, and
quality control are typically responsibilities of the Director and are
facilitated through the administrative core.  The administrative core should be
described in sufficient detail to assure that all proposed components and related
activities will function optimally.  In addition, day-to-day operations involving
procurement, finances, personnel, planning, and budgeting should be detailed in
the description of this core. 

The applicant may also designate a Scientific Director who will be responsible
to the Center Director and provide direct supervision of the scientific and
operational aspects of the research program. Such a person should be an
individual who has established scientific credentials and who is capable of
providing the leadership essential to the success of the research program.  The
Scientific Director will be responsible for assuring interaction and
collaboration among scientists conducting research within the Center to
facilitate a concerted approach to the research goals of the Center.  The
Scientific Director also will be responsible for the direct monitoring of ongoing
research and for identifying (with the assistance of colleagues) research
activities to be expanded or decreased and needs for additional resources or
reallocation of resources.  If the Center Director also serves as the Scientific
Director, his or her functions as Scientific Director should also be described. 

Key professional staff, such as directors of individual research components and
core components of the Center, should have the necessary training/experience to
assure that the objectives and goals of the proposed studies will be achieved. 
Such persons must be independent investigators with scientifically recognized
standing. 

A Program Advisory Committee shall be established and chaired by the Center
Director. Its membership, selected by the Center Director from individuals
outside the Center, should be composed of at least five members who should be
identified in the application.  Members should be persons of recognized
scientific standing who are generally familiar with the Center's activities and
represent a cross-section of disciplines that are relevant to the work of the
proposed Center.  It shall be the responsibility of this Committee to review and
make recommendations to the Center Director on the conduct of all activities of
the Center, including the management of pilot projects.  If committees other than
the Program Advisory Committee are included, specific plans regarding committee
selection and function should be provided in the application. 

Training 

While the primary function of each Center is the conduct of high-quality
interdisciplinary research, an important component related to the Center and its
research efforts is the training of research and clinical personnel.  The
applicant institution must therefore demonstrate or give reasonable assurances
that it has: 

the capacity to train predoctoral and/or postdoctoral students for careers in
alcohol research; and 

the capacity to conduct programs of continuing education in the Center's
designated research theme in the medical, behavioral, or health service fields. 

While the Center need not necessarily have formal training programs of its own,
there must be specific provision for coordination between the Center and the
training programs of the applicant institution and/or affiliated institutions. 
Center grant funds may not be used to pay stipends or other trainee costs;
however, Center staff may participate in the development of training programs,
and Center resources may be made available for use of trainees. 

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 policy
results from the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993 (Section 492B of Public Law 103-
43).

All investigators proposing research involving human subjects should read the
"NIH Guidelines for Inclusion of Women and Minorities as Subjects in Clinical
Research," which was published in the Federal Register of March 28, 1994 (FR59
14508-14513) and in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, Vol. 23, No.11, March
18, 1994, available on the web at: 
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/not94-100.html. 

INCLUSION OF CHILDREN AS PARTICIPANTS IN RESEARCH INVOLVING HUMAN SUBJECTS

It is the policy of NIH that children (i.e., individuals under the age of 21)
must be included in all human subjects research, conducted or supported by the
NIH, unless there are scientific and ethical reasons not to include them.  This
policy applies to all initial (Type 1) applications submitted for receipt dates
after October 1, 1998.

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 that was published in the NIH Guide for Grants
and Contracts, March 6, 1998, and is available at the following URL address:
http://grants.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/not98-024.html. 

Investigators also may obtain copies of these policies from the program staff
listed under INQUIRIES. Program staff may also provide additional relevant
information concerning the policy.

Terms and Conditions of Support 

Center grant funds may be requested for support of core components and individual
research components associated with the Center program. Administrative core
resources may include, for example, salaries of personnel responsible for
management of the Center, program enrichment activities such as special lectures,
visiting scientists, symposia, seminars, workshops, etc., and costs related to
dissemination of research information to the scientific community and lay public.
Funds may be requested for costs associated with individual research components
that are part of the Center program.  Examples of such costs include: research
staff salaries, supplies, travel, special consultation, research patient costs,
publication costs, and the like.  Funds also may be requested for the allowable
Facilities and Administrative costs of the applicant organization. In addition,
costs of advisory committees and consultants may be included in the
administrative core.  Consultants for specific research components should be
included in the budgets for those components. 

Alcohol Research Center grant funds may be used only for costs that are necessary
to carry out the research and research support activities of the Center program,
and must be in conformance with HHS cost principles (encompassed in 45 CFR Part
74) and the NIH Grants Policy Statement (rev. 10/98).  This publication should
be available from your office of sponsored research and is available online from
the NIH Home Page at http://www.nih.gov  (access the "Grants" link, enter
"Funding Opportunities", then click on the "Grants Policy" page).

Funds provided under this program may not be used for the purchase of land; nor
for the purchase, construction, preservation, or repair of any building. However,
costs of alteration and renovation of existing facilities necessary to accomplish
the objectives of the grant may be allowed subject to NIH grants policy
limitations. Funds provided through Center grants may not be used for support of
trainee stipends, fees, or other expenses directly relating to training
activities. Support will be provided annually for a period of up to 5 years
(renewable for subsequent periods) subject to continued availability of funds and
scientific progress.  Applicants may request up to $1.8 million total cost
(including direct and indirect costs combined) per year.  The actual amount of
support awarded will depend upon consideration of factors listed under Award
Criteria.

The Center grant is neither expected nor intended to cover all costs of running
a successful Alcohol Research Center program.  Research and training activities
associated with the Center may receive additional funding from Federal sources
as well as from State and local sources.  The NIAAA expects and encourages the
institution and scientists attracted to such Centers to seek and compete actively
for such funding.  Research staff in funded Centers may submit applications for
independent research project grants for support of research projects that do not
overlap with their Center project(s). 

Centers will be required to submit detailed annual progress reports including
substantive information about research results to date, status of ongoing
research, research plans for the next year, and any modifications in long-term
research plans.  Also required are reporting of inventions, reports of
expenditures, final reports, and other reports in accordance with NIH policy. 

LETTER OF INTENT

Prospective applicants are asked to submit, by November 30, 1999 a letter of
intent that includes a descriptive title of the proposed research, the name,
address, and telephone number of the Principal Investigator, the identities of
other key personnel and participating institutions, and the number and title of
the RFA in response to which the application may be submitted.  Although a letter
of intent is not required, is not binding, and does not enter into the review of
subsequent applications, the information that it contains allows NIAAA staff to
estimate the potential review workload and to avoid conflict of interest in the
review. 

The letter of intent is to be sent to:

Ernestine Vanderveen, Ph.D.
Centers Program
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Willco Building, Suite 402
6000 Executive Boulevard MSC 7003
Bethesda, MD 20892-7003
Telephone: (301) 443-2530
FAX: (301) 594-0673 
Email: tvanderv@willco.niaaa.nih.gov

APPLICATION PROCEDURES 

The research grant application form PHS 398 (rev. 4/98) is to be used in applying
for these grants.  Applications kits are available at most institutional offices
of sponsored research and may be obtained from the Grants Information Office,
Office of Extramural Outreach and Information Resources, National Institutes of
Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, MSC 7910, Bethesda, MD 20892-7910, telephone
301/435-0714, email: grantsinfo.nih.gov; and from NIAAA staff listed under
INQUIRIES.  Applications must be received by December 28, 1999. 

The RFA label available in the PHS 398 (rev. 4/98) application form must be
affixed to the bottom of the face page of the application.  Failure to use this
label could result in delayed processing of the application such that it may not
reach the review committee in time for review. In addition, the RFA title and
number must be typed on line 2 of the face page of the application form and the
YES box must be marked.  Page limits and limits on size of type are strictly
enforced. Non-conforming applications will be returned without being reviewed. 

Applicants from institutions that have a General Clinical Research Center (GCRC)
funded by the NIH National Center for Research Resources may wish to identify the
GCRC as a resource for conducting the proposed research. If so, a letter of
agreement from either the GCRC program director or principal investigator should
be included in the application materials.

Submit a signed, typewritten original of the application, including the checklist
and three signed photocopies as well as sets of appendix materials in one package
to: 

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

At the time of submission, two additional copies of the application plus
appendices must also be sent to: 

RFA AA-99-005
Office of Scientific Affairs
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
Willco Building, Room 409
6000 Executive Boulevard, MSC 7003
Bethesda, MD 20892-7003
Rockville, MD 20852 (for express/courier service)
FAX: (301) 443-6077

REVIEW CONSIDERATIONS 

Upon receipt, applications will be reviewed for completeness by the Center for
Scientific Review (CSR) and for responsiveness by the NIAAA.  Incomplete and/or
non-responsive applications will be returned to the applicant without further
consideration.  Applications that are complete and responsive to the RFA will be
evaluated for scientific and technical merit by an appropriate peer review group
convened by NIAAA in accordance with the review criteria stated below.  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 the applications under review, will
be discussed, assigned a priority score, and receive a second level review.  Site
visits and/or applicant interviews may be used to further evaluate the
applications.  Issues to be considered in applicant interviews/site visits will
be determined by NIAAA, will be consistent for all applications interviewed
and/or site visited, and are likely to be limited to consideration of issues
related primarily to the management and cohesiveness of the Center as an
integrated whole. All applications will receive a second level review by the
National Advisory Council on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism. 

Review Criteria for Center Applications

The initial review for scientific and technical merit of applications will
emphasize two major aspects: (1) review of the Center as an integrated research
effort focused on a central theme, including the administrative core; and (2) the
review of each research component, all other core components, and the pilot
component as applicable.  This review will also include an assessment of the
academic and physical environment and special considerations, e.g., compliance
with human subject and animal welfare requirements, and compliance with policies
concerning inclusion of women, minorities and children in clinical research study
populations. 

A) ADMINISTRATIVE CORE 

1) Key Staff

- Qualifications, experience, commitment and administrative competence of the
Center Director

- Ability of the Center Director to devote substantial time and effort to the
Center 

- Scientific ability of the Scientific Director and his or her professional
experience and leadership 

- Ability of the Scientific Director to devote substantial time and effort to the
Center 

- Scientific qualifications and ability of the directors of the research
components and core components and their commitment to the center 

2) Arrangements and Organizational Structure

- Processes to facilitate and monitor attainment of Center objectives

- Plans for communication and cooperation among investigators involved in the
Center 

- Quality control and oversight mechanisms for ongoing projects 

- Day-to-day management 

- Long-term management and periodic evaluation of goal attainment 

- Contractual and consortium arrangements (as applicable) 

- Procedures for replacement of key personnel, if necessary 

B) SCIENTIFIC CORE COMPONENTS 

- Need/justification for the core service/resource 

- Scientific and technical merit of the service/resource provided 

- Plans for resource allocation 

- Quality control procedures 

- Qualifications, experience, and commitment of the component director 

- Adequacy of component director's time and effort 

- Adequacy of the resources and environment 

C) RESEARCH COMPONENTS

- Significance:  Does this study address an important problem? If the proposed
aims 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? 

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

- 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? 

- Investigators:  Is each investigator appropriately trained and well-suited to
carry out this work? Is the work proposed appropriate to the experience level of
the component director and other researchers (if any)? 

- Environment:  Does the scientific environment in which the work will be done
contribute to the probability of success of the project? Does the proposed
research take advantage of unique features of the scientific environment or
employ useful collaborative arrangements? 

D) PILOT PROJECT COMPONENT 

1) Pilot Project Component

- Adequacy of the selection process for new and replacement pilot projects

- Monitoring and oversight procedures and continuation decisions 

- Adequacy of the resources and environment for all projects 

2) Individual Pilot Projects

- Importance of topic 

- Grounding in the literature or empirical findings 

- Reasonableness of the approach 

- Potential to develop into an full-scale independent project 

- Qualifications of the project director 

E) CENTER AS AN INTEGRATED WHOLE

1) Significance

- Significance of the overall research goals  

- Development of a well-defined central theme 

- Multidisciplinary scope

2) Coordination and Cohesiveness

- Interrelatedness of administrative core, scientific cores and research
components with each other 

- Usefulness of scientific core components to research components and to
independently supported investigators who use them 

- Synergistic potential among Center components and core units 

- Justification for each research component in terms of the central theme and the
overall research goals of the Center 

- Justification for each scientific core component in terms of accomplishing
center objectives 

3) Resources and Environment

- Institutional strength, stability, commitment to research, and support of the
Center, including fiscal responsibility and management capability to assist the
Center Director and staff in complying with DHHS, PHS, and NIH policies. 

- Opportunities for research training and education for persons from various
disciplines and professions 

- Potential for interaction with scientists from other departments and
institutions 

- Academic and physical environment in which the research will be conducted,
including availability of space, equipment, research subjects, and materials 

4) Potential as a Resource

- Potential of the Center to become or maintain itself as a regional and national
resource 

- Capacity to provide quality research training, opportunities for independent
research career development 

- Plans for research information dissemination and educational activities 

5) Renewal applications

- Degree to which the Center achieved stated goals with special attention to:

- scientific merit of completed research

- recruitment of new scientists into alcohol research

- development of a multidisciplinary team 

- coalescence of Center staff into an effective team

OTHER CONSIDERATIONS:

For the Center as a whole and all components/cores 

- When an application proposes research or research-related activity that
involves potential risks to human subjects, animals, and/or the environment, the
adequacy of the proposed means for protecting against such risks must be
demonstrated for each component. 

- Specific statements addressing compliance with NIH policies on inclusion of
women and minorities and children in studies involving human subjects. 

- Adequacy of the budget request for the work proposed. 

AWARD CRITERIA

Applications recommended for approval by the National Advisory Council on Alcohol
Abuse and Alcoholism will be considered for funding on the basis of the overall
merit of the application, as well as such considerations as program balance,
relevance to the mission and goals of NIAAA, research program priorities,
equitable geographic distribution, continuity of support, and availability of
funds.  Awards will be made for up to 5-year project periods with separate fiscal
awards made annually. 

INQUIRIES 

Written and telephone inquiries concerning this RFA are strongly encouraged.  The
opportunity to clarify any issues or questions from potential applicants is
welcome. 

Direct inquiries regarding programmatic issues to: 

Ernestine Vanderveen, Ph.D.
Centers Program
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
6000 Executive Boulevard, Suite 402, MSC 7003
Bethesda, MD 20892-7003
Telephone: (301) 443-2530 
FAX: (301) 594-0673
Email: tvander@willco.niaaa.nih.gov 

Direct inquiries regarding fiscal matters to: 

Edward Ellis
Office of Planning and Resource Management
National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism
6000 Executive Boulevard, Suite 504, MSC 7003
Bethesda, MD 20892-7003
Telephone: (301) 443-4706
FAX: (301) 443-3891
Email: eellis@willco.niaaa.nih.gov 

RELATIONSHIP TO NIAAA 

In view of the special significance of this program, close coordination and
communication between the NIAAA staff and staff of the Alcohol Research Centers
is intended.  The NIAAA program official will have responsibility for maintaining
liaison with appropriate Center leadership, serving as resource consultant to the
Center program, and keeping NIAAA staff informed on progress and accomplishments
of the Centers.  In addition, the program official with other NIAAA staff and
consultants will, from time to time, make on-site visits for purposes of program
coordination and exchange of information. .
AUTHORITY AND REGULATIONS 

This program is described in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance, No.
93.891.  Awards are made under the authorization of the Public Health Service
Act, Sections 301 and 464J, and  administered under NIH grant policies and
Federal Regulations at Title 42 CFR Part 549, "Grants for National Alcohol
Research Centers; "Title 45 CFR Parts 74 and 92, "Administration of Grants;" and
45 CFR Part 46, "Protections of Human Subjects." 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 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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