The National Institute on Aging (NIA) is issuing this Notice of Special Interest (NOSI) to invite Administrative Supplement applications to existing awards in response to the urgent need for research infrastructure that addresses the role of diverse physical, chemical, social, psychological, and economic exposures across multiple levels and across the life course in the etiology and social disparities of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and AD-related dementias (ADRD).
A variety of exposures in the environments where people live, work, pray, and play across their lives shape health outcomes, including AD/ADRD outcomes. Together, this comprehensive set of exposures across domains (e.g., physical, chemical, social, psychological, economic) constitute the “exposome.” In 2020, NIA held a virtual workshop, Understanding the Role of the Exposome in Brain Aging, AD/ADRD, to explore aspects of the exposome salient to AD/ADRD, ranging from various toxicants (e.g., metals, air pollution, pesticides) and pathogens to the individual (e.g., early life adversity, occupational history, lifestyle factors) and macro (e.g., structural racism, climate change) level. The workshop, and a growing body of research, recognized that health-promoting and health-damaging exposures are unequally distributed across individuals and shape social inequities in AD/ADRD outcomes. More research is needed, however, to fully capture the impacts of the exposome on AD/ADRD risk and resilience, as well as the intermediate biological, psychosocial, economic, and behavioral mechanisms.
To advance this agenda, and in response to Congressional Report language “recogniz[ing] the importance of mechanistic research to address ADRD disparities, including the social and contextual factors that contribute to increased risk for disease,” this NOSI seeks to encourage the development of data resources (e.g., new data collection, contextual data compilation), measurement tools, and other research infrastructure to facilitate research on the exposome by supplementing existing projects that are already developing relevant research infrastructure. As part of this initiative, awardees will participate in a meeting led by the National Institutes of Health (NIH) to be held in Bethesda, Maryland in Summer 2023. During the meeting, awardees will share supplement progress and discuss data and research infrastructure coordination activities. Awardees will also be expected to describe plans for sharing the data and resources developed under this supplemental initiative with the broader scientific community.
When developing their research plans, applicants are encouraged to consider the NIA Health Disparities Research Framework, which highlights priority populations, the integration of exposures and mechanisms in biological, behavioral, sociocultural, and environmental domains, and a life course perspective.
Supplements must support research infrastructure with the potential to elucidate the role of the exposome in AD/ADRD outcomes and AD/ADRD health disparities. This work has the potential to advance progress on several AD/ADRD Research Implementation Milestones, including, but not limited to, Milestone 1.B., Milestone 1.F, and Milestone 2.J. Supplements must fall within the scope of the parent grant. Given that this NOSI only supports research infrastructure, parent projects focused on infrastructure activities, such as center grants, research networks, and large-scale primary data collection (e.g., surveys), are likely best positioned to apply. Secondary data analyses (except in support of data infrastructure, such as validation of new instruments or other tools) are not appropriate for this NOSI and will not be prioritized for funding.
Examples of research infrastructure activities responsive to this NOSI include, but are not limited to, those that seek to accomplish the following:
- Enhance existing longitudinal studies with new exposure measures and mechanisms linking exposures to AD/ADRD outcomes for parent projects already conducting surveys and collecting exposure and mechanism measures.
- Collect additional life history (e.g., residential, educational, occupational) data that could facilitate future geographic-, administrative-, and individual-level linkages in parent projects already collecting these types of data.
- Compile additional exposure data from administrative and other sources that is linkable with existing data in parent projects already compiling exposure data.
- Create and link additional contextual data (e.g., physical, chemical, political, social, psychological, and economic environmental exposures about geographic and political units, such as states and counties, as well as schools, workplaces, nursing homes and assisted living facilities, and neighborhoods) to individuals in parent projects already conducting such linkages.
- Create and validate new methods/instruments/sensor technologies for measuring the exposome in parent projects already focused on methods/instruments/sensor technologies development.
- Expand existing resources of data infrastructure projects already developing exposome data for public use, while protecting privacy.
- Generate additional multi-omic data that reflect the body's response to various environmental exposures, such as toxicants, diet, and pathogens, in parent projects that are evaluating the impact of the exposome on brain aging and AD/ADRD risk. Of particular interest is the generation of metabolomic and epigenomic data in brain and peripheral tissues that can inform on the interaction between genes and environment and can enable downstream analyses on the impact of the exposome on AD/ADRD outcomes.
- Enhance the generation of molecular/multi-omic data that reflect the body’s response to environmental exposures, such as toxicants, diet, and pathogens, using biosamples collected from individuals from diverse populations, including the priority populations mentioned in the Health Disparities Research Framework, in parent projects that are conducting molecular profiling of human biosamples.
- Enhance existing data infrastructure to enable the rapid sharing of molecular and phenotypic data from cohort studies with rich longitudinal data that can be used for research on understanding the complex interaction between genes and environment.
- Generate molecular data from brain and peripheral tissues in response to various environmental exposures, such as toxicants, diet, and pathogens, in parent projects that are developing and characterizing new animal models of late-onset AD, including animal models with diverse genetic backgrounds.
Information Specific to the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) is soliciting applications for Administrative Supplements to existing NINDS grants for research on the influence of the exposome on AD/ADRD. NINDS has established a new scientific thrust on the Neural Exposome that supports the influence of nonheritable factors on the nervous system. Administrative Supplement requests are encouraged for NINDS-funded AD/ADRD projects that are consistent with the scope of research described in this NOSI. Applicants are strongly encouraged to contact NINDS Scientific/Research staff prior to their Administrative Supplement submission to discuss the responsiveness of their application.
The following types of applications will be considered non-responsive, and will not be prioritized for funding for this initiative:
- Applications that propose secondary data analyses that are not focused on the development of shareable analytical tools for exposome research.
- Applications that propose new data collection on individuals (e.g., exposure measures and related mechanisms, life history measures that facilitate future linkages) for parent projects that are not already collecting data on individuals.
- Applications that propose to compile new exposure or contextual data for parent projects that are not already collecting exposure or contextual data.
- Applications that require recruitment of new participants and/or reconsenting existing participants.
- Applications that do not include a detailed data and resource sharing plan for rapid and broad sharing of all data, analyses, and results.
Frequently Asked Questions
Responses to frequently asked questions about this NOSI will be posted here.
Application and Submission Information
Applications for this initiative must be submitted using the following Funding Opportunity Announcement or its subsequent reissued equivalent.
- PA-20-272 - Administrative Supplements to Existing NIH Grants and Cooperative Agreements (Parent Admin Supp Clinical Trial Optional)
Administrative supplement work that is proposed through PA-20-272 must be within the general scope of the research or training that is already supported. Eligible activity codes for applications to PA-20-272 are limited to the mechanisms listed in PA-20-272.
To be eligible for an Administrative Supplement, the parent award on which the supplement or revision application is based must be an active award of NIA, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), or NINDS (i.e., not be in an extension period) at the time the supplement is awarded.
All instructions in the SF424 (R&R) Application Guide and PA-20-272 must be followed, with the following additions:
- Applications will be accepted on a rolling basis from June 1, 2022 through July 6, 2022 by 5:00 PM local time of the applicant organization. An application submitted in response to this NOSI that is received after 5:00 PM local time on July 6, 2022 will be withdrawn.
- For funding consideration, applicants must include “NOT-AG-22-022” (without quotation marks) in the Agency Routing Identifier field (box 4B) of the SF424 R&R form. Applications without this information in box 4B will not be considered for this initiative.
- The project period will generally be limited to 2 years. The proposed project period cannot extend beyond the project period of the parent award.
- All applications, including those for multi-project activity codes, must be submitted electronically using a single-project application form package.
- Administrative supplement applications to PA-20-272 must use the application form package with the Competition ID of “FORMS-G-ADMINSUPP-RESEARCH".
- Applications must specifically address issues of potential biohazards, and all research must be conducted in compliance with the health and safety requirements found in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.
- Data Dissemination Guidelines
- Any application producing data must include a data sharing plan that addresses NIA Guidance on Sharing Data and other Resources.
- NIA defines “data” as final data on which a publication is based, usually presented in summary form in a publication. These may include image libraries, video, and audio recordings, or other derivatives of data that are relevant to the research being reported. In general, sufficient materials must be made available to allow replication and/or productive secondary analysis of the data. Except in cases where human subjects considerations do not allow data sharing, raw data or minimally processed data must be shared in a timely manner.
- If applicable, information that must be included for applications, including primary data, can be found at the NIA-funded National Archive of Computerized Data on Aging Deposit Checklist.
- Applications considered non-responsive to the terms of this Notice will not be prioritized for funding for this initiative.
- Investigators planning to submit an application in response to this NOSI are strongly encouraged to contact the program staff listed below, well in advance of the application due date, to discuss the appropriateness of their proposed research/aims.
- The Research Strategy section is limited to 6 pages and should include a summary or abstract of the funded parent award or project and the planned timeline for the proposed research. In the Research Strategy, applicants should:
- Describe how the proposed project will build research infrastructure to measure the exposome.
- Describe plans to address relevant biological variables, such as sex, for studies in vertebrate animals, in vitro models, or human biospecimens.
- Describe a detailed data and resource sharing plan.
- Describe plans for rapidly submitting results for publication and use by the broader research community.
- NIA anticipates committing up to $15,000,000 for meritorious administrative supplement applications to NIA and other participating IC parent grants.
- Application budgets are limited to no more than the amount of the current parent award and must reflect the actual needs of the proposed project.
- The project and budget periods must be within the currently approved project period for the existing parent award.
- Applications should include funds for participation in a 2-day meeting in Bethesda, Maryland to be held Summer 2023.
Review Process and Criteria
Each Institute and Center (IC) (i.e., NIA, NIEHS, or NINDS) will conduct administrative reviews of applications from their IC separately. NIA will make funds available to each of the participating ICs, provided that sufficient funds are available.
- Is the work proposed within the scope of the active award?
- Is the work proposed focused on developing infrastructure/research resources with a clearly articulated potential to elucidate the role of the exposome in the etiology and disparities of AD/ADRD?
- Is there an adequate plan for rapid and broad sharing of all data, analyses, and resulting tools and resources with the broader scientific community?
- Is the budget adequately justified?
Please direct all inquiries to:
Amelia Karraker, Ph.D.
Division of Behavioral and Social Research (BSR)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Lisa A. Opanashuk, Ph.D.
Division of Neuroscience (DN)
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
David A. Jett, Ph.D.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)
Yuxia Cui, Ph.D.
National of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
(for HHS grants)
Michelle Heacock, Ph.D.
National of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)
(for Superfund Research Program grants)