Full Text MH-94-001


NIH GUIDE, Volume 22, Number 44, December 10, 1993

RFA:  MH-94-001

P.T. 04

  Behavioral/Experimental Psychology 
  Emotional/Mental Health 

National Institute of Mental Health

Letter of Intent Receipt Date:  February 10, 1994
Application Receipt Date:  April 25, 1994


The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) invites applications
for Centers for Behavioral Science Research (CBSR).  The purpose of
such a Center is to provide a unified, integrated research
environment in which to pursue novel and focused questions in basic
behavioral science related to mental health.  It is expected that
this mechanism will encourage investigators from a variety of
disciplines and approaches to contribute the full range of expertise
and advanced technologies available in the basic behavioral sciences.


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 Request
for Applications (RFA), NIMH Centers for Behavioral Science Research
(CBSR), is related to the priority area of mental health and mental
disorder.  Potential applicants may obtain a copy of "Healthy People
2000" (Full Report:  Stock No. 017-001-00474-0) or "Healthy People
2000" (Summary Report:  Stock No. 017-001-00473-1) through the
Superintendent of Documents, Government Printing Office, Washington,
DC 20402-9325 (telephone 202-783-3238).


Applications may be submitted by domestic, public and private
organizations, such as universities, colleges, hospitals,
laboratories, units of State or local governments, and eligible
agencies of the Federal government.  Women and minority investigators
are encouraged to apply.


A CBSR will be supported by the specialized center (P50) grant
mechanism, which provides funding for multidisciplinary and
multi-investigator approaches to the investigation of specific and
complex research problems requiring the application of diverse
expertise and methodologies.  Grants will be administered under PHS
policies and procedures.

This RFA is a one-time solicitation.  Support may be requested for a
period of up to five years.  Future unsolicited competing
continuation applications will compete with all
investigator-initiated applications and be reviewed according to the
customary peer review procedures.


It is estimated that up to one million dollars total costs will be
available in fiscal year 1994 to support one or two centers, with an
anticipated average total cost (including indirect costs) of
approximately $500,000 per award.  However, the exact amount of
funding available will depend on appropriated funds, the quality of
applications and program priorities at the time of award.



The basic behavioral sciences are comprised of a number of fields,
including psychology, sociology, anthropology, and linguistics; each
of these fields encompasses a number of sub-fields that, in turn, are
associated with a broad range of conceptual and methodological
strategies.  Current approaches for assessing behavioral processes
range from macro-social (e.g., social class, culture), to
interactional (e.g., interpersonal and group behavior), to individual
psychological processes and characteristics (e.g., cognition,
emotion, personality), and also include physiological processes that
influence and are influenced by behavioral phenomena (e.g., brain
function, autonomic and hormonal systems, genetics).  Available
methods and technologies also cover a wide range, including
performance measures, subjective report, behavioral observation, and
detailed psychophysiological assessments.

The goal of the CBSR is to foster integration among the various
behavioral science approaches in order to provide a fuller
understanding of mental health.  In so doing, this program aims to
promote the scientific advances and opportunities that are made
possible by cross-disciplinary collaboration and the cross-
fertilization of approaches.

Center Characteristics

A CBSR is expected to address critical questions in basic behavioral
sciences research through multidisciplinary, integrative, and highly
focused research programs.  A CBSR is characterized as follows:

o  The Center should be conceptualized and organized according to a
broad multidisciplinary framework.  In the design and execution of
the research program, expertise and technological support must be
available to address three of the four levels of analysis noted in
the Background (above), i.e., macro-social, interactional,
psychological, and biobehavioral.  It is not necessary for each
constituent research project to involve all three of the chosen
levels, but they all must be represented in the Center as a whole,
and the overarching Center goal must be to foster their integration.

o  The research questions addressed must concern basic behavioral
processes and mechanisms that are important to understanding mental

o  The research must propose novel approaches and must not duplicate
work that is currently grant supported.

o  The CBSR Director must have a demonstrated capability to organize,
administer, and direct the Center.  This individual should be the
scientific leader of the Center and thus must also be the Principal
Investigator on at least one of the projects and have a minimum time
commitment of 30 percent to the Center grant.

o  A CBSR must provide research apprenticeship opportunities for
junior investigators who have the potential for independent research
careers to become skilled in the strategies, approaches, and
techniques of modern behavioral science research.  At least two
Research Apprenticeships must be made available each year.  In
addition, there should be close coordination between the Center and
relevant predoctoral and/or postdoctoral research training programs
of the institution.

o  A CBSR should be conceptualized and defined by its integrative,
multidisciplinary nature and need not be limited by geographical or
departmental boundaries.  A research team may consist of
investigators or institutions that are geographically distant, to the
extent that the research design requires and accommodates such

Research Areas

The following are examples of broad behavioral science research areas
related to the NIMH research mission that could be supported by this
program.  The list is not comprehensive.  In the formulation of
specific research questions, attention should be given to the
relevance of these processes to mental health concerns.

o  Sensation and perception
o  Motor control and skill
o  Learning and memory
o  Reasoning; problem-solving; decision-making; planning
o  Language and communication
o  Interpersonal interactions and processes, e.g., conflict, status
o  Marital and family relationships
o  Sexual and reproductive behavior
o  Attitudes, persuasion, stereotyping
o  Group identity and behavior, including multi-ethnic and minority
o  Societal and cultural influences on behavior
o  Emotion and mood states
o  Personality/individual differences; gender differences
o  Stress, coping, and adaptation
o  Sleep and circadian rhythms

In keeping with the integrative, multidisciplinary emphasis of the
CBSR, it is very important that attention be given to connections
across these various domains and processes, e.g., links between
emotion and learning or memory, between interpersonal interactions
and physiological reactivity, or between group identity and

In addition to human studies, primate and rodent models are
appropriate.  Also appropriate are theoretical and mathematical
modeling approaches.

Activities Supported

To provide a suitable structure for achieving objectives of this
program, a Center may request funds for the following:

o  Individual Research Projects:  Funds must be requested to support
three or more individual research projects.  Each project should have
the characteristics of a traditional research grant (R01) as well as
demonstrating a significant integrative contribution to the CBSR.

o  Cores:  Funds may be requested for "core" support.  Each Core must
provide essential services to two or more approved Individual
Research Projects.  Possible Cores include those focused on
administrative, subject recruitment, or measurement issues.  Core
support may involve salaries, research resources to be shared across
projects, equipment needed to conduct the proposed research, and
incidental alteration and renovation of facilities consistent with
Public Health Service policy.  Depending upon the geographical and
administrative boundaries of the Center components, there may be one
or more Cores.

o  Research Apprenticeships:  Funds must be requested to support the
supervised research activities of junior faculty, postdoctoral staff,
and/or advanced graduate students.  These individuals should have
high potential for a research career but require further supervised
research experience.  Salary support, tuition, travel, and research
support may be provided.  At least two research apprenticeships must
be made available each year.

o  Essential Scientific Expertise:  To provide the most effective
combination of scientific knowledge and skills, applicants may
request funds to support scientists to augment or strengthen the
skills, expertise, and capabilities of existing staff.  Although
recruitment of such scientists may take place after the award has
been made, the expertise required, the role in Center activities, and
the time to be devoted to the Center should be provided in the
application.  It should be emphasized, however, that after the award
is made, such individuals may not serve as a substitute for a Project
Principal Investigator.


A major requirement for a CBSR is the conduct of multidisciplinary,
integrative behavioral research on focused questions that have
implications for mental health; the nature of these implications must
be stated clearly in the application.  The application must describe
the hypotheses to be tested and the goals and approaches for the
CBSR.  In addition, the application should clearly articulate the
reasons a Center approach is needed for the proposed work as well as
the unique benefits that will accrue from a Center.

The application should include the following components, in the
designated order.


A summary "detailed budget page for the initial budget period" and
"budgets for the entire project period" should be included for the
proposed CBSR as a whole.  In addition, an individual "detailed
budget page for the initial budget period" and "budgets for the
entire project period" should be included for EACH component (Core(s)
plus Individual Research Projects).

General Description of the Center (Not to exceed 10 pages):

An overview should be provided of the entire proposed Center
describing the central theme and goals, and how the Center will
achieve its major objectives.  The proposed contribution of each of
the Individual Research Projects and Core(s) in achieving the
objectives of the Center should be explained.  Plans for the Research
Apprenticeships should be described as well as the methods for
selecting qualified individuals.  Furthermore, the administrative
arrangements and support necessary to effect the research should be
carefully described.  In particular, when more than one institutional
site is involved, a detailed statement and supporting documentation
for the cooperative administrative arrangements are required and
should be submitted with the application.  In addition, detailed
information should be provided on collaborations, recruitment,
facilities, and resources as well as any expenses anticipated from
grant funds for sites with such an arrangement.

Cores (Not to exceed 5 pages for any one Core):

The applicant should describe how the Core will contribute to the
overall goals of the Center as well as how each specific project will
draw upon a particular Core.  The description of each Core should
clearly indicate the facilities, resources, services, and
professional skills that the facility will provide.

Individual Research Projects (Not to exceed 10 pages for any one

The major research objectives and goals of each project, its
integration with the other projects, and its relationships to the
overall Center should be described.  In addition, detailed
descriptions should be provided on the following:

o  Research Plan:  The questions to be addressed and the hypotheses
to be tested by the proposed research should be highly focused and
fully explained.  Full discussion is required on the status of
current research efforts (both within the Center and elsewhere)
addressing this issue, the limitations of existing approaches, and
why the research necessitates a multidisciplinary, integrative

o  Method:  The description of the design, methodology, and data
analysis plan should outline the strategies proposed to accomplish
the specific aims of the project, and should include a discussion of
the innovative aspects of the approach.  The experimental procedures
need not be spelled out in great detail if those procedures have
already been extensively published and widely accepted by the
scientific community.  In contrast, any new methodology and its
advantage over existing methodologies should be fully described.
Furthermore, the feasibility of the proposed studies, the potential
pitfalls, relevant alternative approaches should changes become
necessary, and their relevance to the goals of the Center should be
fully discussed.  The methods to be used should be cited and
referenced.  It should be emphasized that this necessitates the
inclusion of investigators that are considered to be leaders in their
fields and whose studies are widely published and accepted by the
scientific community.

o  Operational Plan:  A description of the resources and working
arrangements required to implement the research plan should be fully
elaborated.  A detailed description should be given of all research
components.  A distinction must be made between those resources that
already are in place (including staff) and those resources that must
be added to complete the proposed research.

If the application represents a revision of an application previously
submitted in response to RFA MH 93-08 (NIMH Centers for Behavioral
Science Research, fiscal year 1993), it must:  (1) satisfy the
Application Requirements of the current RFA MH 94-001 (see above);
(2) respond to criticisms made in the previous summary statement;
and, (3) include an Introduction (up to three pages in length) that
summarizes any substantial additions, deletions, and changes that
have been made.



Applications for grants and cooperative agreements involving human
subjects are required to include both women and minorities in study
populations for research, unless compelling scientific or other
justification for not including either women or minorities is
provided.  This requirement is intended to ensure that research
findings will be of benefit to all persons at risk of the disease,
disorder, or condition under study.  For the purpose of these
policies, minorities include U.S. racial/ethnic minority populations
(specifically: American Indians or Alaskan Natives, Asian/Pacific
Islanders, Blacks, and Hispanics).

It is recognized that it may not be feasible or appropriate in all
basic and clinical research projects to include representation of the
full array of U.S. racial/ethnic minority populations.  However,
applicants are urged to assess carefully the feasibility of including
the broadest possible representation of minority groups in the
project as a whole.

Applications should include a description of the composition of the
proposed study population by gender and racial/ethnic group, and the
rationale for the numbers and kinds of people selected to
participate.  This information should be included in the form PHS 398
in Sections 1-4 of the Research Plan AND summarized in Section 5,
Human Subjects.

Applications should incorporate in their study design gender and/or
minority representation appropriate to the scientific objectives of
the work proposed.  If representation of women or minorities in
sufficient numbers to permit assessment of differential effects is
not feasible or is not appropriate, the reasons for this must be
explained and justified.  The rationale may relate to the purpose of
the research, the health of the subjects, or other compelling
circumstances (e.g., if in the only study population available there
is a disproportionate representation in terms of age distribution,
risk factors, incidence/prevalence, etc., of one gender or
minority/majority group).

If the required information is not contained within the application,
the review will be deferred until it is complete.  Peer reviewers
will address specifically whether the research plan in the
application conforms to these policies.  If gender and/or minority
representation/justification are judged to be inadequate, reviewers
will consider this as a deficiency in assigning the priority score to
the application.

All applications for research submitted to the National Institutes of
Health (NIH) are required to address these policies.  NIH funding
components will not award grants that do not comply with these


Applicants are encouraged to submit a letter of intent, by February
10, 1994.  The letter should include a title of the proposed Center,
the name, address, and telephone number of the Center Director,
descriptive titles of the Core(s) and Individual Research Projects,
names of other key personnel, and participating institutions.

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 is helpful in planning for the review of the
applications.  The letter of intent is to be submitted to the NIMH
program contact listed under INQUIRIES.


Form PHS 398 (rev. 9/91), Application for Public Health Service
Grant, is to be used in preparing a formal application for support.
However, applicants must follow the page limitations as outlined
under SPECIAL REQUIREMENTS in this announcement.  The form PHS 398
application kit is available through the applicant institution's
office of sponsored research; from the Office of Grants Information,
Division of Research Grants, National Institutes of Health, Westwood
Building, Room 449, Bethesda, MD 20892, telephone 301/435-0714; and
from the NIMH program contact listed under INQUIRIES.  Item 2a on
page 1 of the application must read: "MH 94-001:  NIMH CENTERS FOR

A signed original and four exact copies of the application must be
prepared.  These are to be sent directly to:

Division of Research Grants
National Institutes of Health
Westwood Building, Room 240
Bethesda, MD  20892**

For planning purposes, it is strongly suggested that an additional
copy of the application be sent to Dr. Lynne C. Huffman at the
address listed under INQUIRIES.


Review Process

After initial assignment to NIMH, applications submitted in response
to this RFA will be reviewed by NIMH staff to determine if they
satisfy the objectives and requirements of a CBSR as outlined in this
RFA (excluding scientific or technical merit).  Applications that do
not meet these objectives and requirements will not be accepted and
will be returned to the applicant.

Accepted applications will be reviewed for scientific and technical
merit by a special review committee (SRC) convened by the NIMH,
composed primarily of non-Federal scientists, and by the National
Advisory Mental Health Council.

Review Criteria

Criteria for review of CBSR applications will include the following:

o  Intrinsic merit:  The overall quality, scientific merit, relevance
to mental health, and innovation of the research to be done; the
likelihood that the work will lead to fundamental advances within the
field, to new discoveries, and/or to new technological developments.
In addition, the research conducted must center around a highly
focused and well-defined research problem.

o  Appropriateness of the Center approach:  The need for and
suitability of the Center approach; whether a Center approach will
add significantly to what could be accomplished through other modes
of research support.  In this respect, the integration of component
projects is of utmost significance and should be described

o  Research competence:  The qualifications and scientific
credentials of the Center Director and constituent project directors
will be considered.  It is expected that these individuals will be
regarded by their peers as leaders in their respective fields.

o  Center director credentials:  Ability of the Center Director to
organize, direct, and administer the Center and, in addition, be the
principal investigator on at least one of the proposed projects.  It
is expected that this individual will devote a minimum of 30 percent
time to the Center grant.  Thus, the Director must by necessity be
the scientific leader of the Center.

o  Institutional commitment:  The nature and level of resource
commitments and resources available from the home institution and
from other participant institutions; and plans for interactions with
the rest of the sponsoring institution.

o  Appropriateness of management plans and arrangements:  The
feasibility and adequacy of the organizational and administrative
plans; the appropriateness of the budget; and the mechanisms to
evaluate the Center's progress.

o  Quality of plans for Research Apprenticeships:  The effectiveness
of approaches used to attract and involve junior investigators and
students who show potential for significant contributions and
independent research careers.

o  Quality of linkages between the proposed Center and ongoing
training programs in the institutional environment.

o  Human and animal subjects:  Adequacy of the Center's plans for the
protection of human and animal subjects.

o  Gender and minority concerns:  Adequacy of the Center's plans to
address gender and minority issues in the proposed research.

While each component of the proposed CBSR (Core(s) plus Individual
Research Projects) will be reviewed independently, recommendations of
the SRC will be for the application in its entirety.  Under some
circumstances, it may be appropriate for the SRC to recommend that
one or more components not be funded.


Letter of Intent Receipt Date:  February 10, 1994
Application Receipt Date:       April 25, 1994
Administrative Review:          April-May 1994
SRC Review:                     May-June 1994
Advisory Council Review:        September 12-13, 1994
Anticipated Start Date:         September 30, 1994


o  Scientific merit of the research program as determined by peer

o  Responsiveness to the objectives outlined in this RFA

o  Availability of research funds and the competing demands of other
research funding requirements

The P50 grant supporting a Center for Behavioral Science Research is
not transferable to another institution.


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

Address the letter of intent, inquiries regarding programmatic
issues, and forward one copy of the PHS 398 to:

Lynne C. Huffman, M.D.
Division of Neuroscience and Behavioral Science
National Institute of Mental Health
5600 Fishers Lane, Room 11C-10
Rockville, MD  20857
Telephone:  (301) 443-3942
FAX:  (301) 443-4822
E-mail:  L3H@CU.NIH.GOV

Direct inquiries regarding fiscal matters to:

Diana Trunnell
Grants Management Branch
National Institute of Mental Health
5600 Fishers Lane, Room 7C-15
Rockville, MD  20857
Telephone:  (301) 443-3065


This program is described in the Catalog of Federal Domestic
Assistance No. 93.242.  Awards are made under authorization of the
Public Health Service Act, Title IV, Part A (Public Law 78-410), as
amended by Public Law 99-158, 42 USC 241 and 285) and administered
under PHS grants policies and Federal Regulations 42 CFR 52 and 45
CFR Part 74.  This program is not subject to the intergovernmental
review requirements of Executive Order 12372 as implemented through
Department of Health and Human Services regulations at 45 CFR part
100 or Health Systems Agency review.

The Public Health Service strongly encourages all grant recipients to
provide a smoke-free workplace.  This is consistent with the PHS
mission of promoting the protection and advancement of an
individual's physical and mental health.


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