Request for Information (RFI): Inviting comments and suggestions for the development of the NIA Longitudinal Rat Resource to study neural and behavioral trajectories of successful cognitive aging

Notice Number: NOT-AG-19-017

Key Dates
Release Date: April 25, 2019
Response Date:July 15, 2019

Related Announcements

Issued by
National Institute on Aging (NIA)



In April 2017, the Cognitive Aging Summit III was convened by the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and made possible by the McKnight Brain Research Foundation through a generous grant to the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health (FNIH). The focus of the Summit was resilience and reserve; the agenda, video of the presentations, and executive summary may be found here. An Executive Session was held on the final day of the Summit to discuss recommendations for ways to further advance the study of cognitive aging in the context of resilience and reserve, including the suggestion to initiate longitudinal studies of neuroadaptive processes over the lifespan in shorter-lived rat models.

To address this recommendation, an NIA-supported facility is currently being established through the Intramural Research Program to house and follow male and female Long-Evans rats from youth to approximately 24 months of age with state-of-the-art technologies to assess brain structure and function non-invasively and with dynamic phenotypic measurements.

Non-exhaustive infrastructure that will be brought online and made available in support of the resource will include the following:

  • Bruker Biospec 9.4T/20cm MRI with CryoProbe technology and spectroscopy capabilities
  • High-density home cage activity data
  • Olfactory perceptual discrimination and other potential operant assessments
  • Elevated plus-maze
  • Morris water maze
  • Open field
  • Gait analysis
  • Periodic biological samples and physiological/health measures including serum, vaginal smears, fecal/microbiome samples, body weight, temperature, etc.

NIA seeks public input on: (1) outcome measures that would be important to capture and (2) ways to assess neural function that would avoid invasive approaches or necessitate sacrifice of the animal before 24 months of age. Novel opportunities using the infrastructure listed, as well as suggestions for additional infrastructure to assess behavioral and/or neural function, are welcomed. NIA staff will review and consider the comments and suggestions for inclusion in the development and execution of the resource.

Information Requested

NIA invites feedback on the proposed resource from researchers in academia and industry, healthcare professionals, patient and health advocacy organizations, scientific and professional organizations, and other interested stakeholders. Input on the following topics is solicited:

Behavioral Assessment

  • Appropriate frequency of behavioral assessment for longitudinal analysis
  • Behavioral procedures appropriate for longitudinal, lifespan assessment
  • Recommendations regarding explicit behavioral training versus observational assessment
  • Test/re-test, carryover effects, enrichment, and practical constraints in longitudinal assessment
  • Measurement issues specific to assessing sex-dependent effects

Measurement Parameters and Data Management

  • Appropriate frequency of sampling for longitudinal analysis
  • High-field neuroimaging MRI and spectroscopy recommendations for longitudinal assessment
  • Non-invasive ante-mortem biological samples of interest
  • Post-mortem sampling and sample preparation, storage, and archiving
  • Platform features to facilitate data serving and exchange
  • Database development and integration recommendations
  • Other issues of relevance to the aims and utility of the proposed longitudinal resource

How to Respond

Responses to this Request For Information (RFI) must be submitted via email to Dr. Matthew Sutterer, Division of Neuroscience, NIA at: Responses will be accepted until July 15, 2019.

Responses to this RFI are voluntary. Respondents are advised that the government is under no obligation to acknowledge receipt of the information received or provide feedback to respondents with respect to any information submitted. No proprietary, classified, confidential, or sensitive information should be included in your response. NIH may use the information gathered to develop grant, contract, or other funding priorities and initiatives.

This RFI is for information and planning purposes only and should not be construed as a solicitation or as an obligation on the part of the federal government, NIH, or NIA specifically. NIH does not intend to make any awards based on responses to this RFI or pay for the preparation of any information submitted or for the government’s use of such information.


Please direct all inquiries to:

Matthew Sutterer, Ph.D.
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Telephone: 301-480-7694