Specialized Cooperative Centers Program in Reproduction Research

RFA Number: RFA-HD-04-030

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 Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) (http://www.nichd.nih.gov/)

Announcement Type
This is a reissue of RFA-HD-04-003, previously released on October 21, 2003.

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

Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number(s)
Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance Number(s): 93.865

Key Dates
Release Date: October 29, 2004
Letters of Intent Receipt Date(s): May 13, 2005
Application Receipt Date(s): June 13, 2005
Peer Review Date(s): October/November 2005
Council Review Date(s): January 2006
Earliest Anticipated Start Date: April 1, 2006
Additional Information To Be Available Date (Url Activation Date): Not Applicable
Expiration Date: June 14, 2005

Due Dates for E.O. 12372
Not Applicable

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(s) of Support
2. Funds Available

Section III. Eligibility Information
1. Eligible Applicants
  A. Eligible Institutions
  B. Eligible Individuals
2.Cost Sharing
3. Other - Special Eligibility Criteria

Section IV. Application and Submission Information
1. Address to Request Application Information
2. Content and Form of Application Submission
3. Submission Dates
  A. Receipt and 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
3. Merit Review Criteria
  A. Additional Review Criteria
  B. Additional Review Considerations
  C. Sharing Research Data
  D. Sharing Research Resources

Section VI. Award Administration Information
1. Award Notices
2. Administrative Requirements
  A. Cooperative Agreement Terms and Conditions of Award
    1. Principal Investigator Rights and Responsibilities
    2. NIH Responsibilities
    3. Collaborative Responsibilities
    4. Arbitration Process
3. Award Criteria
4. 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

The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), through the Reproductive Sciences Branch (RSB) in the Center for Population Research (CPR), provides funding for a limited number of research centers in the reproductive sciences. These centers provide an arena for multidisciplinary interactions among basic and clinical scientists interested in establishing high quality research programs in the reproductive sciences. Accordingly, the purpose of this RFA is to announce the annual recompetition of the Specialized Cooperative Centers Program in Reproduction Research. Applications are sought from investigators willing to participate with the NICHD under a cooperative agreement in a multicenter cooperative research program. Center investigators will be expected to work with NICHD staff in facilitating research collaborations and interactions within and between centers. Such a cooperative program will form a national network that fosters communication, innovation and research excellence with the ultimate goal of improving human reproductive health through accelerated transfer of basic science findings into clinical practice.

Background

The ultimate goal of biomedical research supported by the RSB is to develop new knowledge leading to clinical applications that will enable men and women to control their own fertility choices with methods that are safe, effective, inexpensive, reversible and acceptable to various population groups. Such research aims to develop new leads for contraception, procedures for alleviating infertility, and fertility preserving treatments for reproductive disorders that threaten fertility.

The need for the availability of contraceptive options acceptable to diverse populations remains globally unmet. Among the 600 million women of reproductive age in today's world, as many as 228 million women are at risk of unintended pregnancy. Up to 64 percent of all worldwide pregnancies are unintended (mistimed or completely unwanted). Over 50 million abortions occur worldwide each year, with minimal estimates of at least 100,000 abortion-related deaths annually. In the U.S., more than three million unintended pregnancies, about 60 percent of all pregnancies, occur annually, with half resulting in abortion as an outcome. In half of the abortions occurring in the U.S. each year, a contraceptive method being used failed to prevent pregnancy.

Families, family values, and family planning form the cultural essence and cohesiveness of our existence as human societies. One of the most basic of human rights -- the right to procreate -- is frustrated or denied by the occurrence of infertility in couples desiring children. It has been estimated that infertility affects between 37 and 70 million married couples around the world. In U.S. studies described over 50 years ago, it was stated that up to 10 percent of married couples were ‘sterile,' with the remaining 90 percent having varying degrees of fertility. More recent and technically rigorous U.S. survey studies have conservatively identified that there are about 2.3 million infertile couples, which is about nine percent of the domestic married couple population base with wives aged 15-44. In addition, such studies found that about 6.2 million U.S. women in this age range had an impaired ability to have children. This figure is predicted to reach seven to nine million by the year 2025. At least 30-50 percent of infertility is attributable to male factor infertility for which the pathophysiology is either not understood at all or, at best, poorly understood. The prognosis for male infertility treatment outcomes is extremely poor at present. Indeed, whereas 80 percent of infertile women can be successfully treated, male infertility can be treated in only 10-20 percent of such men. However, the widespread use of assisted reproductive technologies such as intracytoplasmic sperm injection (ICSI) and its variants has enabled otherwise infertile men to father children, although possible genetic causes of the infertility are likely transmitted to the progeny.

While analyses of the U.S. population base have not found alarming annual increases in the overall number of infertile couples or the overall prevalence of infertility, significant age-related increases in infertility, coupled with delayed childbearing in the contemporary couple population base, have been found in such studies. Physician office visits reflecting current societal life style requirements for infertility services have markedly increased in the U.S. from 1968 (600,000) to 1988 (1.35 million) and are estimated to approach two million visits in 2000. Indeed, approximately 13 percent of American women will receive infertility services during their lifetime. Of the infertile couples seeking treatment for infertility, it has been estimated that up to one half will be unsuccessful in achieving their desired outcome. In concert with the increased medical assistance sought, U.S. infertility service costs have risen to exceed a billion dollar annual medico-economic impact in the U.S.

Reproductive tract disorders affecting fertility are associated with significant morbidity and a degree of mortality in some specific instances that cannot be ignored. Accompanying the human costs of morbidities of reproductive tract disorders are the attendant substantial costs to the U.S. health care system involving the diagnosis, treatment, and follow-up services provided to the patients, as well as the added costs to the patient and the U.S. economy of lost employment and family service hours. In reproductive age couples, the obstructive sequelae of male accessory gland infections account for eight to 12 percent of male partner diagnostic costs for fertility impairment. In reproductive age females, it has been estimated that the general incidence of endometriosis is five to 15 percent. The incidence of endometriosis in females being surgically treated for infertility is known to be 30 to 50 percent. Among infertile females with no other known cause of their infertility, the incidence of endometriosis has been reported to be 40 to 70 percent. A diagnosis of severe endometriosis often leads to hysterectomy associated treatment. While the causative role of endometriosis in infertility remains poorly understood and its optimal diagnosis and treatment remain a goal not an accomplishment of contemporary medicine, the morbid impact of the associated pelvic pain has significant human cost as well as national economic costs.

Similarly, the role of dysfunctional uterine bleeding, either in the presence or the absence of uterine leiomyomata (fibroids), is not well understood despite its common occurrence and decades of research. It is a significant factor in noncompliant contraceptive use or discontinuance and, therefore, in the unintended pregnancy problem. Uterine leiomyomata occur in nearly 20 percent of all reproductive age women, are the single most common diagnosis in gynecological hospital admissions, may be the only abnormality observed in an infertile couple, and represent the most common medical indication for an unintended and often unwanted hysterectomy that prematurely ends a female's reproductive options.

Polycystic ovary syndrome (PCOS) is a major cause of female infertility, as well as other reproductive system and other tissue and organ system morbidities. Identified more than 60 years ago by Stein and Leventhal, the etiology of PCOS remains misunderstood despite 60 years of research. This insidious disease is currently the most common endocrine disorder of women of reproductive age. Recent prevalence rate estimates suggest that between five and 10 percent of the reproductive age population of U.S. women suffers the full-blown syndrome of hyperandrogenism, chronic anovulation, and polycystic ovaries. Also poorly understood is the pathogenesis of premature ovarian failure that affects one in 100 women by age 40. Interestingly, 16 percent of women carrying the fragile X pre-mutation present with premature ovarian failure.

It is becoming increasingly apparent that some conditions of male and female infertility may be genetically based. In males, there is considerable evidence from breeding studies and gene knockout experiments in animals that mutation of over 100 separate genes results in infertility. More limited studies in humans show that a number of inherited diseases are associated with abnormal sperm morphology and function. These data suggest that a significant number of men with infertility may have one or more mutations that predispose to their condition. However, it is currently not possible to determine which men have genetic infertility. Similarly, it is estimated that 15-20 percent of human pregnancies are chromosomally abnormal as a result of division errors during oocyte meiosis or early embryonic cleavage. Such errors not only are the leading cause of birth defects, but may be the single most important factor contributing to human infertility.

Recognizing that the interactive needs of basic and clinical research necessary to address the above and related problems may be so complex that they cannot be solved by individual investigators working alone, without the intellectual and fiscal resources of a cooperative specialized center program, it is the intention of the RSB, contingent upon the availability of funds, to continue and maintain organized, multi- component reproductive research programs of high quality that focus on topics of high priority and significance because of their critically important relationship to the mission of the RSB.

Objectives

The objectives of this Centers Program are to support specialized reproductive research programs of high quality, and to facilitate and accelerate bidirectional transfer of knowledge between the laboratory and clinic. This RFA is specifically designed to stimulate the reproductive sciences research community to organize and maintain research-based centers of outstanding quality that, serving as national research resources, form a cooperative network with NICHD that fosters communication, innovation and high quality reproductive research. Such networking as afforded by the cooperative nature of this Centers Program will ensure that the reproductive research community remains in the forefront of the development and utilization of new technologies that can be used to diagnose, treat and ameliorate reproductive disorders, as well as to identify novel leads for fertility regulation.

Research Scope

The Specialized Cooperative Centers Program in Reproduction Research (SCCPRR) is composed of research-based center grants designed to support interactive groups of research projects and supporting core service facilities. The research activities included in these center grants must comprise, by definition, a multidisciplinary approach to biomedical problems addressing the specific research topic areas announced in this RFA (see below). These centers may have more than one theme, focus or emphasis, but all of the subprojects involved must be responsive to one or more of the specific research areas of reproduction supported by the RSB. Furthermore, the translational objective of this Program requires that one of the subprojects be entirely or predominantly clinical.

The following is a list of topics that are considered to be responsive to the research mission areas of the RSB. Additionally, these topics identify areas where research at the basic/clinical interface is deemed essential to the potential development of new leads or approaches to fertility regulation, as well as of diagnostic tools and procedures for the detection, treatment and effective management of reproductive disorders that impact on reproductive competence.

Reproductive Developmental Biology - Origins and differentiation of germ cells; the endocrine, paracrine and physiologic mechanisms involved in gametogenesis, including germ cell-somatic cell interactions, germ cell proliferation and apoptosis and germ cell transplantation; fertilization, including sperm motility and capacitation, zona pellucida binding and mechanisms to block polyspermy; pre-implantation embryonic development including zygotic gene activation, and mechanisms regulating embryonic stem cell differentiation and maintenance of stem cell pluripotency.

Reproductive Tract Biology and Physiology - folliculogenesis, including studies addressing intraovarian control of follicle selection and atresia by growth factors, cytokines and their respective binding proteins and receptor antagonists; luteogenesis and luteolysis, including intraovarian mechanisms that control luteal life span; implantation, including cell to cell interactions regulating implantation; structure, function and regulation of the oviduct and epididymis.

Reproductive Endocrinology and Neuroendocrinology - fundamental mechanisms of hormone synthesis, secretion, regulation and action in the context of reproduction, including intrapituitary mechanisms governing gonadotropin secretion, and intraneuronal mechanisms and glia-neuron interactions controlling pulsatile GnRH secretion; identification of elements and factors controlling gene transcription including co-activators and co-repressors, and identification of signaling molecules and pathways mediating hormone action; interaction of the immune and neuroendocrine systems in controlling fertility; mechanisms by which nutritional modification alters the hypothalamo-pituitary-gonadal endocrine axis.

Reproductive Genetics - genetics of sex determination including clarification of the functional interactions between the known sex determination genes; role of inheritance and expression of parental alleles in reproduction including genes and mechanisms important in imprinting and methylation during gametogenesis and embryogenesis, and elucidation of the genes and genetic mechanisms responsible for normal and skewed X chromosome inactivation.

Reproductive Medicine - etiology, pathophysiology, prevention, and treatment of male or female infertility, with particular emphasis on defining those conditions that are genetically based; relation of endometriosis to infertility, treatment of benign gynecologic diseases; research leading to improved outcomes across the spectrum of assisted reproductive technologies, as well as development of new approaches for assisted reproduction; use of genomics and proteomics to develop novel diagnostics for reproductive diseases and disorders.

Because this list is not meant to be all inclusive, prospective applicants preparing either a new or competing continuation center grant application are encouraged to discuss program relevance issues with the program staff contact cited under INQUIRIES, below. However, applicants should note that the research scope of this RFA does not include studies in the area of reproductive oncology, reproductive toxicology or reproductive epidemiology, or studies dealing with post-implantation pregnancy and parturition. These topic areas are outside the scope of research supported by the RSB and, therefore, will be deemed non-responsive to this RFA. Further, applications proposing research activities focused exclusively on clinical research or exclusively on basic research, or applications or components thereof proposing epidemiological or large-scale clinical trial research, will not be considered responsive to this RFA.

Guidance and Management Structures

Overall coordination of the Centers Program, consistent with the stated objectives set forth in this RFA (see Objectives), will be done by a Steering Committee consisting of all Center Principal Investigators and an NICHD Staff Research Coordinator from the RSB, CPR. The Steering Committee will employ a consensus decision process to guide the Centers Program in evaluating the progress of member Center programs, their proposed new research initiatives within the general scope of the approved program, the need to provide the entire Center network with access to new technologies, the need for collaborations either within or outside the Center network, and the need to redirect certain efforts of member Centers due to either sufficient data acquisition to permit conclusion, the acquisition of data supporting an alternative study initiative or experience proving that the proposed research is no longer feasible.

In addition to the Steering Committee, smaller cooperative groups will be formed that consist of research components of member centers having common research interests addressing a specific basic and/or clinical research problem. These research focus groups will perform coordinated research activities as recommended by the Steering Committee. In turn, progress of the focus groups will further guide the Steering Committee in decision making regarding changes in specific research directions, translational activities, and collaborative research initiatives. The research focus group will consist of an NICHD Staff Research Coordinator from the RSB, CPR, and Key Investigators of the relevant subproject and/or Core Directors.

Further details of the guidance and management structures and processes may be found under “Cooperative Agreement Terms and Conditions of Award,” below.

Section II. Award Information


1. Mechanism(s) of Support

This funding opportunity will use the NIH Specialized Cooperative Research Center (U54) award mechanism. As an applicant, you will be solely responsible for planning, directing, and executing the proposed project. At this time, the NICHD plans to reissue this RFA on an annual basis. The anticipated award date is April 1, 2006.

The NIH (U 54 ) is a cooperative agreement award mechanism. In the cooperative agreement mechanism, the Principal Investigator retains the primary responsibility and dominant role for planning, directing, and executing the proposed project, with NIH staff being substantially involved as a partner with the Principal Investigator, as described under the section VI.2. Administrative and National Policy Requirements, "Cooperative Agreement Terms and Conditions of Award."

2. Funds Available

The NICHD intends to commit approximately $2.9 million in total costs [Direct plus Facilities and Administrative (F & A) costs] in FY 2006 to fund up to two new and/or competitive continuation grants in response to this RFA. An applicant for a new center may request a project period of up to five years and a budget for direct costs up to $1 million for the first year, excluding F & A costs on consortium arrangements, with incremental increases for reoccurring costs (i.e., personnel, consultants, supplies, travel and other expenses) not to exceed three percent in each subsequent year. http://grants2.nih.gov/grants/guide/notice-files/NOT-OD-04-040.html An applicant for a competing continuation grant may request a project period of up to five years and a budget for direct costs of up to $1 million in the first year or 110 percent of the direct costs awarded for the final competitive segment of the preceding project period as stated in the Notice of Grant Award, whichever is higher. Applications exceeding the budgetary limits specified above will be returned to the applicant without peer review. Because the nature and scope of the research proposed may vary, it is anticipated that the size of awards also will vary. Although the financial plans of NICHD provide support for this program, awards pursuant to this RFA are contingent upon the availability of funds and the receipt of a sufficient number of meritorious applications.

In the event that an application submitted in response to this RFA is not funded, one revision of the application may be submitted in response to a subsequent RFA. Requested budgets for revised applications must follow the recommendations of the peer review group who evaluated the initial submission unless the submission of a different budget request has been authorized in advance by the NICHD. If a revised competing continuation application is not selected for funding, the applicant institution may then submit only a new, substantially different application in response to a subsequent RFA that will be subject to the direct cost limit of $1 million.

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:

The policy of the NICHD allows support of more than one Specialized Cooperative Center at a given institution if based in a different department or unit, and if the research areas of the two centers are different (e.g., one center on female reproduction and one center on male reproduction).

1.B. Eligible Individuals

Any individual with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to carry out the proposed research is invited to work with their institution 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 programs.

2. Cost Sharing
Not applicable.

3. Other-Special Eligibility Criteria

Description of a Center

The minimal requirements for a Center described in this RFA are as follows (see sections on Review Procedures and Award Criteria below):

Optional components of the Center organization include the mix of subprojects and cores to be included in the Center:

Closed Access Structure : In this center structure, administrative and all technical service cores will be utilized by budgeted center subprojects only. Consistent with NICHD guidelines for establishment of core facilities, utilization by three subprojects is required to justify a core technical service facility. Percent utilization by any one of the three subprojects justifying the core may not exceed 50 percent or be less than five percent. The percent utilization of additional subprojects requiring core services may be less than five percent. Costs necessary to use a particular core facility may be incorporated into the budget of the core unit, and not in the budgets of the research subprojects per se. No internal charge-back system would be required.

Open Access Structure : In this center structure, budgeted center subprojects, as well as research projects external to the Center (e.g., R01, R03, R21, P01 subproject), may have access to technical service cores. However, special consideration must be given to justification of a technical service core facility and the formal establishment of an effective charge-back system for all technical service cores. For each core service facility, at least one of the three projects used to justify a core must be a budgeted center subproject, while the remaining project(s) used in justifying the core must be externally funded NICHD projects administered by the RSB. Percent utilization by any internally budgeted center subproject or externally funded RSB project used to justify a particular core facility may not exceed 50 percent or be less than five percent. An additional seven federally funded, peer reviewed external research projects addressing program relevant research areas of the RSB may access the core up to 100 percent of its service capacity. The 50/5 percent utilization requirement applies to this group of external projects. Centers must establish an internal management policy for evaluating the acceptability of proposed RSB program relevant external projects to access the core facilities. Approval of requests for core access privileges for external projects which would replace those described above must be made to RSB Program Staff who then will evaluate the extent to which the project is relevant to RSB mission research areas (see Research Scope), and render a decision accordingly.

If centers choose to operate in an open access format, costs necessary to utilize a particular core facility by budgeted center subprojects must be incorporated into the budget of the subproject and not the core budget in order to accommodate participation in the required charge-back system. Core budgets will be justified and evaluated based on access by budgeted center subprojects and external, program relevant research projects as described above. Above and beyond this arrangement, technology based core units may offer services to additional external projects addressing any area of research regardless of funding source only on a full payback (fee for service or in-kind) basis. However, additional funds necessary to provide services to these external projects (e.g., technical support, supplies, etc.) must come from sources other than the center funding, such as the supply budgets of the external projects wishing to access the core facilities. In choosing to configure a center in an open access center structure, the Principal Investigator must have in place, and adequately describe in the application, management policies that ensure that budgeted center subprojects are given highest priority in receiving services provided by the core.

Centers choosing to configure in an open access center format may propose one or more technical service cores that will be utilized exclusively by budgeted center subprojects. These centers may, therefore, have a mix of open and restricted access technical service cores. On the other hand, administrative cores in open center structures may be accessed only by budgeted center subprojects.

Once an award is made, centers configured as a closed access center structure may, at a later time, choose to convert to an open access center structure by requesting such conversion in writing to the NICHD.

Travel to Meetings

Principal Investigators should request travel funds to support their participation in the annual Steering Committee Meeting as well as one research focus group meeting. Key Investigators of budgeted center subprojects and Directors of technical service cores should request travel funds to support participation in two research focus group meetings.

Section IV. Application and Submission Information

1. Address to Request Application Information

The PHS 398 application instructions are available at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/phs398/phs398.html in an interactive format. 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

Applications must be prepared using the PHS 398 research grant application instructions and forms (rev. 5/2001). Applications must have a D&B Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number as the universal identifier when applying for Federal grants or cooperative agreements. The D&B number can be obtained by calling (866) 705-5711 or through the web site at http://www.dnb.com/us/. The D&B number should be entered on line 11 of the face page of the PHS 398 form.

See Section VI.2 Administrative Requirements for additional information.
The title and number of this funding opportunity must be typed on line 2 of the face page of the application form and the YES box must be checked.

Applications for the U54 grant are to be prepared in a manner consistent with the information presented in the NICHD U54 Cooperative Specialized Research Center Grant Guidelines, available from the contacts listed under INQUIRIES, below, and at http://www.nichd.nih.gov/funding/mechanism/u54_guide.cfm.


3. Submission Dates
Applications must be mailed on or before the receipt date described below (Section IV.3.A).

3.A. Receipt, Review and Anticipated Start Dates

Letter of Intent Receipt Date: May 13, 2005
Application Receipt Date(s): June 13, 2005
Peer Review Date: October/November 2005
Council Review Date: January 2006
Earliest Anticipated Start Date: April 1, 2006


3.A.1. Letter of Intent

Prospective applicants are asked to submit a letter of intent that includes the following information:

Although a letter of intent is not required, is not binding, and does not enter into the review of a subsequent application, the information that it contains allows IC staff to estimate the potential review workload and plan the review.

The letter of intent is to be sent by the date listed at the beginning of this document.

The letter of intent should be sent to:


Louis V. DePaolo, Ph.D.
Reproductive Sciences Branch
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
6100 Executive Boulevard, Room 8B01, MSC 7510
Bethesda, MD 20892-7510
Telephone: (301) 435-6970
FAX: (301) 496 0962
Email: ld38p@nih.gov


3.B. Sending an Application to the NIH

Applications must be prepared using the PHS 398 research grant application instructions and forms as described above. Submit a signed, typewritten original of the application, including the checklist, and five signed photocopies in one package to:

Center for Scientific Review
National Institutes of Health
6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 1040, MSC 7710
Bethesda, MD 20892-7710 (U.S. Postal Service Express or regular mail)
Bethesda, MD 20817 (for express/courier service; non-USPS service)

At the time of submission, two additional copies of the application and all copies of the appendix material must be sent to:

Robert Stretch, Ph.D.
Director, Division of Scientific Review
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
6100 Executive Boulevard, Room 5B01, MSC 7510
Bethesda, MD 20892-7510
Rockville, MD 20852 (for express/courier service)

Using the RFA Label: The RFA label available in the PHS 398 application instructions must be affixed to the bottom of the face page of the application. Type the RFA number on the label. 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. The RFA label is also available at: http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/phs398/label-bk.pdf.

3.C. Application Processing

Applications must be received on or before the application receipt date listed in the heading of this funding opportunity. If an application is received after that date, it will be returned to the applicant without review. Applications will be evaluated for completeness by CSR.

The NIH will not accept any application in response to this funding opportunity that is essentially the same as one currently pending initial review, unless the applicant withdraws the pending application. However, when a previously unfunded application, originally submitted as an investigator-initiated application, is to be submitted in response to a funding opportunity, it is to be prepared as a NEW application. That is, the application for the funding opportunity must not include an Introduction describing the changes and improvements made, and the text must not be marked to indicate the changes from the previous unfunded version of the application.

Although there is no immediate acknowledgement of the receipt of an application, applicants are generally notified of the review and funding assignment within eight (8) weeks.


4. Intergovernmental Review
This initiative is not subject to intergovernmental review.

5. Funding Restrictions

All awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other considerations described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement. The Grants Policy Statement can be found at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/policy.htm (see also Section VI.3. Award Criteria).

6. Other Submission Requirements

Applications for the U54 grant are to be prepared in a manner consistent with the information presented in the NICHD U54 Cooperative Specialized Research Center Grant Guidelines, available from the contacts listed under INQUIRIES, below, and at http://www.nichd.nih.gov/funding/mechanism/u54_guide.cfm.

At minimum, an application in response to this RFA should include:

All applicants must document their ability to meet or exceed the minimum requirements as set forth in this RFA. This specifically includes understanding of and commitment to the cooperative nature of this Program, and willingness to meet the Terms and Conditions of Award.

Plan for Sharing Research Data

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.

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 (NIH Grants Policy Statement http://grants.nih.gov/archive/archive/grants/policy/nihgps_2003/index.htm and http://grants.nih.gov/archive/grants/policy/nihgps_2003/index.htm#_Toc54600131). Investigators responding to this funding opportunity should include a plan for sharing research resources 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, http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/2590/2590.htm). See Section VI.3. Award Criteria.

Section V. Application Review Information


1. Criteria

This announcement does not require cost sharing

2. Review and Selection Process

Upon receipt, applications will be reviewed for completeness by the CSR and responsiveness by the NICHD . Incomplete and/or non-responsive applications will not be reviewed.

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 NICHD in accordance with the review criteria stated below.

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

A site visit will not be part of the review process. Applicants should ensure that their applications are complete as written and can stand on their own.

3. Merit Review Criteria

The scientific and technical merit peer review focuses on three areas: (1) review of the component research subprojects; (2) review of the core units, and (3) review of the overall center as an integrated effort. Applications submitted in response to this RFA will be evaluated according to the review criteria described in the NICHD U54 Cooperative Specialized Research Center Grant Guidelines, available from the contacts listed under INQUIRIES, below, and at http://www.nichd.nih.gov/funding/mechanism/u54_guide.cfm.

3.A. Additional Review Criteria:

In addition to the above criteria, the following items will 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 the Research Plan, Section E on Human Subjects in the PHS Form 398).

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 the Research Plan, Section E on Human Subjects in the PHS Form 398).

Care and Use of Vertebrate Animals in Research: If vertebrate animals are to be used in the project, the five items described under Section F of the PHS Form 398 research grant application instructions will be assessed.

3.B. Additional Review Considerations

Budget: The reasonableness of the proposed budget and the requested period of support in relation to the proposed research. The priority score should not be affected by the evaluation of the budget.

3.C. Sharing Research Data

1. 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.

3.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/archive/grants/policy/nihgps/part_ii_5.htm#availofrr and http://www.ott.nih.gov/policy/rt_guide_final.html). 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 will be considered by Program staff of the funding organization when making recommendations about funding applications. Program staff may negotiate modifications of the data and resource sharing plans with the awardee before recommending funding of an application. The final version of the data and resource sharing plans negotiated by both will become a condition of the award of the grant. 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. Award Criteria.

Section VI. Award Administration Information


1. Award Notices

After the peer review of the application is completed, the Principal Investigator will also receive a written critique called a Summary Statement.

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 (http://grants.nih.gov/archive/grants/policy/nihgps_2003/index.htm).

A formal notification in the form of a Notice of Grant Award (NGA) will be provided to the applicant organization by email. The NGA signed by the grants management officer is the authorizing document.

Selection of an application for award is not an authorization to begin performance. Any costs incurred before receipt of the NGA are at the recipient's risk. These costs may be reimbursed only to the extent considered allowable pre-award costs.

Once all administrative and programmatic issues have been resolved, the Notice of Grant Award will be generated via e-mail notification from the awarding component, NICHD, to the grantee business official (designated in Item 14 on the Application Face Page). If a grantee is not e-mail enabled, a hard copy of the Notice of Grant Award will be mailed to the business official.


2. Administrative Requirements

All NIH grant and cooperative agreement awards include the NIH Grants Policy Statement as part of the notice of grant award. For these terms of award, see the NIH Grants Policy Statement Part II: Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards, Subpart A: General (http://grants.nih.gov/archive/grants/policy/nihgps_2003/index.htm) and Part II Terms and Conditions of NIH Grant Awards, Subpart B: Terms and Conditions for Specific Types of Grants, Grantees, and Activities (http://grants.nih.gov/archive/grants/policy/nihgps_2003/index.htm).

The following Terms and Conditions will be incorporated into the award statement and will be provided to the Principal Investigator as well as to the appropriate institutional official, at the time of award.


2.A. Cooperative Agreement Terms and Conditions of Award

The following special terms of award are in addition to, and not in lieu of, otherwise applicable OMB administrative guidelines, HHS grant administration regulations at 45 CFR Parts 74 and 92 (Part 92 is applicable when State and local Governments are eligible to apply), and other HHS, PHS, and NIH grant administration policies.

The administrative and funding instrument used for this program will be the cooperative agreement ( NIH Specialized Cooperative Research Center U 54 ), an "assistance" mechanism (rather than an "acquisition" mechanism), in which substantial NIH programmatic involvement with the awardees is anticipated during the performance of the activities. Under the cooperative agreement, the NIH purpose is to support and stimulate the recipients' activities by involvement in and otherwise working jointly with the award recipients in a partnership role; it is not to assume direction, prime responsibility, or a dominant role in the activities. Consistent with this concept, the dominant role and prime responsibility resides with the awardees for the project as a whole, although specific tasks and activities may be shared among the awardees and the NIH as defined above.


2.A.1. Principal Investigator Rights and Responsibilities

The primary authorities and responsibilities of the awardees are to participate cooperatively with the Steering Committee in the following activities:

The awardees will agree to: 1) accept the coordinating role of the Steering Committee which includes evaluating objectives and research goals of the Centers Program, and recommending modification, deletion or addition of protocols within the Centers Program; 2) follow any common protocols in which they participate for multicenter projects that are approved by the Steering Committee; and 3) accept the cooperative nature of the group process, including the establishment, where appropriate, of smaller collaborative groups comprised of interacting subprojects and/or cores focused on a particular reproductive research topic area.

Awardees will retain custody of and have primary rights to the data and software developed under these awards, subject to Government rights of access consistent with current HHS, PHS, and NIH policies.

2.A.2. NIH Responsibilities

NICHD Research Coordinator:

The NICHD Research Coordinator will have substantial programmatic involvement above and beyond normal program stewardship, by:

NICHD Project Officer:

NICHD will appoint a Project Officer, apart from the Research Coordinator, who will:

2.A.3. Collaborative Responsibilities

Overall Coordination of the Centers Program consistent with the stated intent of the RFA will be done by a Steering Committee consisting of the Principal Investigators from each of the participating Centers and one NICHD staff member from the RSB, CPR, NICHD, who will be the Research Coordinator. A member of the NICHD grants management staff will serve as a nonvoting advisor to the Committee. A chairperson for the Steering Committee will be chosen by a majority vote of the Principal Investigators. The Steering Committee meetings will be convened at least once per year. The purpose of these meetings is to share scientific information, assess scientific progress, identify new research opportunities and potential avenues of collaborations such as with industry, private foundations and/or NIH intramural scientists, establish priorities that will accelerate the translation of preclinical findings into clinical applications, reallocate resources and conduct the business of the cooperative research program. In anticipation that some centers will have common research interests that address a specific basic and/or clinical research problem, it is envisioned that research focus groups will be formed to conduct coordinated research activities recommended by the Steering Committee. The Steering Committee will approve multicenter protocols on specific research activities. As needed, the Steering Committee will develop a publication policy regarding joint authorship of research reports derived from such collaborative efforts.

Each full member will have one vote. Awardee members of the Steering Committee will be required to accept and implement policies approved by the Steering Committee.

2.A.4. Arbitration Process

Any disagreements that may arise in scientific or programmatic matters (within the scope of the award) between award recipients and the NIH may be brought to arbitration. An Arbitration Panel composed of three members will be convened. It will have three members: a designee of the Steering Committee chosen without NIH staff voting, one NIH designee, and a third designee with expertise in the relevant area who is chosen by the other two; in the case of individual disagreement, the first member may be chosen by the individual awardee. This special arbitration procedure in no way affects the awardee's right to appeal an adverse action that is otherwise appealable in accordance with PHS regulations 42 CFR Part 50, Subpart D and HHS regulations 45 CFR Part 16.

3. Award Criteria

The following will be considered in making funding decisions:

4. Reporting

Awardees will be required to submit the PHS Non-Competing Grant Progress Report, Form 2590 annually (http://grants.nih.gov/grants/funding/2590/2590.htm) 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:

Louis V. DePaolo, Ph.D.
Reproductive Sciences Branch
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
6100 Executive Boulevard, Room 8B01, MSC 7510
Bethesda, MD 20892
Telephone: (301) 435-6970
FAX: (301) 496 0962
Email: ld38p@nih.gov


2. Peer Review Contacts:

Robert Stretch, Ph.D.
Director, Division of Scientific Review
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
6100 Executive Boulevard, Room 5B01, MSC 7510
Bethesda, MD 20892-7510v Rockville, MD 20852 (for express/courier service)
Telephone: (301) 496-1485
FAX: (301) 402-4104v Email: stretchr@mail.nih.gov


3. Financial or Grants Management Contacts:

Ms. Victoria Connors
Grants Management Branch
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Building 6100, Room 8A01A, MSC 7510
6100 Executive Boulevard
Bethesda , MD 20892-7510
Telephone: (301) 436-5482
FAX: (301) 480-4783
Email: vp14v@nih.gov


Section VIII. Other Information


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.

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 new PHS Form 398; 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 that is available at 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 (see 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.

Public 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 public 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 RFA 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.

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 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 NIH Grants Policy Statement can be found at http://grants.nih.gov/grants/policy/policy.htm .

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.


Weekly TOC for this Announcement
NIH Funding Opportunities and Notices


Office of Extramural Research (OER) - Home Page Office of Extramural
Research (OER)
  National Institutes of Health (NIH) - Home Page National Institutes of Health (NIH)
9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, Maryland 20892
  Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) - Home Page Department of Health
and Human Services (HHS)
  USA.gov - Government Made Easy


Note: For help accessing PDF, RTF, MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Audio or Video files, see Help Downloading Files.