Notice of Intent to Publish a Funding Opportunity Announcement for Autism Centers of Excellence: Networks (R01 Clinical Trial Optional)
Notice Number:

Key Dates

Release Date:
February 11, 2021
Estimated Publication Date of Funding Opportunity Announcement:
July 26, 2021
First Estimated Application Due Date:
November 30, 2021
Earliest Estimated Award Date:
July 01, 2022
Earliest Estimated Start Date:
July 01, 2022
Related Announcements

NOT-HD-21-007 - Notice of Intent to Publish a Funding Opportunity Announcement for Autism Centers of Excellence: Centers (P50 Clinical Trial Optional)

Issued by

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)

National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD)

National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS)

National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH)

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)


The purpose of this Notice is to announce the intention of NICHD, with NIDCD, NIEHS, NIMH, and NINDS, to issue an FOA to solicit new and renewal applications for autism centers of excellence (ACE) R01 Networks. This FOA will be a reissue of RFA-HD-17-008. A companion FOA will solicit applications for ACE Centers supported by the P50 activity code (see NOT-HD-21-007). An individual may serve as the Principal Investigator for an ACE Center or Network on only one application.

Investigators of current ACE Networks and others who believe that they have sufficient expertise and resources to coordinate and implement a multi-site research program are encouraged to begin consideration of applying for this initiative. This Notice is being provided to allow potential applicants sufficient time to develop meaningful collaborations and responsive projects. 

The FOA is expected to be published in Summer 2021 with an expected application due date in Winter.

This FOA will utilize the R01 activity code. Each ACE network will submit one R01 application that includes subawards to the collaborating sites. Details of the planned FOA are provided below.

Research Initiative Details

Autism spectrum disorders (ASD), characterized by difficulties with social communication and stereotypic and repetitive patterns of behaviors, are complex and highly heterogeneous neurodevelopmental disorders with early childhood onset. The ACE Networks FOA will seek applications from institutions that support major multi-site research programs of ASD research. An ACE Network application will include the following components: 1) administration and operation of the ACE network; 2) a plan for recruiting study participants from underrepresented minority groups and disadvantaged background; 3) dissemination of research information and outreach to the scientific and lay communities ; 4) research project(s) that requires multiple sites for optimal design and conduct of the study; and 5) a clearly defined data coordinating center which will operate independently from data collection sites. Each ACE network must promote two-way communication between the investigators and the community of individuals with ASD and caregivers.

The purpose of ACE Networks is to support research that will lead to better understanding of the causes and mechanisms underlying ASD, improve the efficiency of methods of early identification and diagnosis, and/or examine innovative and cost-effective services for individuals with ASD across their lifespan.

Areas of interest may include studies focusing on:

  • Understudied subgroups within the ASD population (e.g., aging and older adults, minimally verbal individuals) or those with comorbid conditions (e.g., intellectual disabilities, epilepsy, sensorimotor, autonomic, or gastrointestinal issues)
  • Identification of previously undiagnosed adults
  • Development of new or validation of existing and commonly used measures or tools in ASD research for diverse subgroups within the ASD population (e.g., transition-age youth and adults, those with intellectual disabilities, under-represented minorities, and economically disadvantaged groups
  • Unbiased and well-powered studies of the interplay of genetic and non-genetic (e.g., environmental, and other modifiable exposures) risk and protective factors in the etiology or development of ASD

This ACE Networks FOA will support hypothesis-driven mechanistic clinical trial studies in basic and/or translational discovery research in healthy human participants and in the pathobiology and pathophysiology in human participants with ASD. The goal is to address basic questions and to interrogate concepts in biology, behavior, and pathophysiology that will provide insight into understanding ASD. Such studies may seek to understand a biological or behavioral process, or the mechanism of action of an intervention. This RFA supports biomarker studies that may provide information about physiological function, target engagement of novel therapeutics, and/or mechanisms of therapeutic responses. The submitted studies may be defined as clinical trials (as noted above) but should not seek to answer specific questions about safety, tolerability, clinical efficacy, effectiveness, clinical management, and/or implementation of pharmacologic, behavioral, biologic, surgical, or device (invasive or non-invasive) interventions or treatments.

Potential applicants are encouraged to monitor the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts for the publication of the FOA. There is no additional information that will be provided at this point.

Funding Information
Estimated Total Funding

The NICHD and participating Institutes intend to commit approximately $24.5 million total for the first year of funding for this funding opportunity and the companion FOA for ACE Centers (NOT-HD-21-007).

Expected Number of Awards

Approximately 8-10 ACE awards are anticipated in response to the two FOAs.

Estimated Award Ceiling

Applications for an ACE Network may request up to $1.5 million in direct costs per year (excluding subaward F & A costs).

Primary CFDA Numbers


Anticipated Eligible Organizations
For-Profit Organization (Other than Small Business)
State Government
Independent school districts
Eligible Agencies of the Federal Government
Regional Organization
Small Business
Nonprofit with 501(c)(3) IRS Status (Other than Institution of Higher Education)
Private Institution of Higher Education
Public/State Controlled Institution of Higher Education
Indian/Native American Tribal Government (Other than Federally Recognized)
Public housing authorities/Indian housing authorities
U.S. Territory or Possession
Indian/Native American Tribal Government (Federally Recognized)
County governments
Indian/Native American Tribally Designated Organization (Native American tribal organizations (other than Federally recognized tribal governments)

Applications are not being solicited at this time. 


Please direct all inquiries to:

Alice Kau, Ph.D.

Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)

Telephone: 301-496-1383


Weekly TOC for this Announcement
NIH Funding Opportunities and Notices