Full Text AG-93-02


NIH GUIDE, Volume 21, Number 29, August 14, 1992

RFA:  AG-93-02

P.T. 04

  Behavioral/Social Studies/Service 

National Institute on Aging

Letter of Intent Receipt Date:  October 2, 1992
Application Receipt Date:  November 18, 1992


This Request for Applications (RFA) seeks to establish Centers of
Research on Applied Gerontology.  The Centers' purpose will be to
facilitate the process of translating basic behavioral and social
research theories and findings into practical outcomes that will
benefit the lives of older people.  They will focus on strategies to
improve quality of life, enhance productivity, and minimize the need
for care.  They will, therefore, have an emphasis distinct from the
clinical and biomedical approaches that are sponsored through the
Claude D. Pepper Older American Independence Centers (RFA AG-91-05, NIH
Guide for Grants and Contracts, Vol. 20, No. 7, February 15, 1991).


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 priorities.  This RFA, Centers
of Research on Applied Gerontology, addresses several priority areas
including chronic disabling conditions, physical activity and fitness,
violent and abusive behavior and unintentional injuries as they relate
to older people.  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).


Domestic public and private, for-profit and non-profit institutions and
organizations are eligible to apply in response to this RFA, provided
that some member of the proposed research team at the institution has
received grant or contract funds or is currently active in research
through an external peer-reviewed process.  Applications from women and
minority investigators and institutions are encouraged.  Awards will
not be made to foreign institutions.  Questions about eligibility may
be referred to the staff contacts listed at the end of this


The support mechanism for these awards will be the specialized center
(P50) mechanism.  Such awards cover a spectrum of activities that
comprise a multidisciplinary attack on a particular problem area.  A
maximum of five years of support may be requested.  At that time, funds
may be available for competitive renewal of the Centers.  All current
policies and requirements that govern the research grant programs of
the NIH will apply to grants awarded in connection with this RFA.

Special Terms of Awards applying to projects funded in response to this
RFA are in addition to, and not in lieu of, otherwise applicable OMB
administrative guidelines, HHS grant administrative regulations at 45
CFR Part 74, and other HHS, PHS, and NIH grants administration
policies.  Awardees will maintain custody of and primary rights to the
data developed under the awards, subject to Government rights of
access, consistent with current HHS, PHS, and NIH policies.


An estimated $3,000,000 will be made available in Fiscal Year 1993 for
support of awards made under this RFA.  It is expected that up to 6
awards will be made at a maximum of $400,000 direct costs per award for
the first year.  This level of support is dependent on the receipt of
a sufficient number of applications of high scientific merit.  Awards
pursuant to the RFA are contingent upon the availability of funds for
this purpose.


Researchers are encouraged to seek funding to apply the theories,
paradigms, and methodology of the behavioral and social sciences to
address practical problems of late middle aged and older people at
work, in the home, in transportation, in health care, or in other areas
of concern to the population.  The focus of this initiative is on
translating research result obtained in laboratory or other scientific
settings into practical benefits for older adults.  The organizing
principle behind each center should reflect this aim of establishing a
pattern of research translation from basic research to practical
outcome.  Each Center should focus on a single organizing theme, rather
than cover the spectrum of problems that may be addressed by the
initiative as a whole.

The individual projects that are part of the Center should have as
their goal a practical end-point---improvement in some indicator or
indicators of functioning in these different environments.  The
research may apply to a real world situation, findings and
methodologies previously identified through smaller or more selective
studies.  Alternatively, the research may apply broader scientific
knowledge from a related domain to a particular problem.  Improvements
in aspects of behavioral indicators relevant to the practical domain
(e.g., laboratory measures of cognitive functioning, health status, or
subjective well-being) may be considered interim goals of the research
strategy.  However, the end-point is improvement in functioning in the
practical domain itself. Thus the goal will not only be confirming a
theory or discovering a new effect (though these may be expected from
well-designed studies addressing practical problems).

One highly desirable feature of the Centers will be a focus on special
populations of older people.  Growth in size of minority older
populations has been, and will continue to be, substantial.  The oldest
old remain the population at greatest risk for dependency.  Older
adults who have been identified as retarded face particular problems in
later life.  Poor older adults in rural areas have severely limited
access to health and general services.  These and other special
populations who have pressing needs warrant attention from researchers
in aging.

The focus on investigating a practical problem will require applicants
to show familiarity with the practical domain or environment being
investigated as well as with relevant aspects of aging research.  That
familiarity may be achieved by collaboration with specialists in the
domain or community or by prior experience in applying aging research
successfully to this domain.  Because practical problems will likely
cross disciplinary backgrounds and benefit from input from practice
professionals as well as researchers, applications that reflect such
broad-based expertise are particularly encouraged.

The following examples illustrate potential research strategies in a
number of different practical domains. These examples are illustrative
only.  Applications are welcomed from all domains that are important to
older adults in daily life.

o  Use principles from human factors to design work environments that
accommodate the needs of older workers

o  Use perceptual and cognitive theory and methods to derive valid
functional tests of competence for work, for driving, and for other
safety-related activities

o  Apply models of discourse analysis, text comprehension, and
schema-based remembering to derive improved designs for medical and
pharmacological information leaflets, insurance forms, and other
structured material that older adults encounter

o  Use methods of task analysis and associated theory to identify
environmental designs that facilitate independent activities of daily
living in frail older adults

o  Use methodology and theory from the information processing tradition
to foster the design of new service delivery systems and health
monitoring systems for frail older adults living at home

o  Use training research and theory to seek ways to improve competence
in critical skills that support independence

o  Use models of family systems and dysfunction to guide interventions
for reducing family conflict in later life

o  Adapt known techniques for establishing and maintaining support
groups for informal caregivers to the special cultural and language
needs of families of minority older people

o  Adapt principles of health behavior change to modify health
promotion programs for specific older populations or to address
conditions affecting older people's health status (e.g., dietary
change, exercise, self-help)

o  Use theories of organizational analysis (e.g., from medical
sociology or from industrial or organizational psychology) to enhance
the quality of life of older people in the formal care system

o  Use research on congregate housing patterns and arrangements for the
elderly to develop housing models to accommodate those dependent
elderly in need of daily assistance.  Research incorporating findings
related to ethnic minority elderly is especially encouraged

o  Use existing training theory and research to develop improved
curriculum models that develop and enhance in-home and institutional
nursing care skills

o  Use community organization theory to develop and evaluate centers or
programs for older adults that focus on social activities, public
service, or educational development

Structure of the Centers

The Centers will consist of (a) a management core, (b) individual
projects, and (c) optionally, a recruitment core.

Management Core

The management core is central to each Center.  It provides
both the drive and the means to facilitate the process of
research translation.  Activities of the core should

o  monitoring individual projects that are part of the Center,
assessing the progress and reassigning resources as needed during the
course of the award. (Major changes must be approved by the NIA before
going into effect.)

o  facilitating collaborative work across the different projects by
coordinating data collection and providing technical support and
guidance to the individual projects.

o  providing advice on possible applications that arise from the
research projects, and materially assisting the application of these

The day-to-day running of the management core will be coordinated by
the Director of the Center.  However, this core should have an advisory
committee that oversees the functioning of the core and the individual
projects.  The Committee should consist of at least five members.  The
Director of the Center should be the chair of the committee.  At least
one member of the committee should have primary background in the
proposed field of application through a service or commercial role in
that field.  At least one member of the committee should be an
experienced researcher from another institution, whose only connection
with the Center is through serving on the committee.  Individual
project leaders may serve on this committee, however, individual
project leaders together with the Center Director cannot be a voting
majority of the committee.

The committee should meet at least twice annually to review the status
of current projects and to recommend the appropriate level of future
year funding for these projects.  Major changes in individual projects,
the deletion of projects, or the addition of new projects should be
approved by the NIA prior to taking effect.

Individual Projects

The Center must at all times support at least two individual projects
(with different PI).  The overall PI of the Center generally must be a
PI on one of these projects.  The projects should each relate to the
central organizing theme of the Center.  They may be planned for any
length of time up to the proposed duration of the Center.  The
rationale, method, and proposed data analysis for individual projects
planned during the project period must be described in the application.

Field Research - Intervention Phase

This initiative is intended to generate practical outcomes. Therefore,
all Centers should propose at least one project that has a plan for
field research.  The possible practical outcomes of such work should be
clearly stated.  It is also anticipated that the majority of Centers
funded will have an intervention phase.  Therefore, applications that
do not include an intervention phase must explain why no intervention
is appropriate.  Interventions that are selected must be based on sound
theory, have supporting pilot data and show a methodologically sound
plan for evaluation of the intervention.  The evaluation should contain
a plan to monitor intended effects of the treatment and some means to
monitor more obvious possible unintended and negative consequences.

Recruitment Core

Because this RFA encourages working with special populations and
requires research involving practical situations, conventional methods
of recruiting and testing subjects may not always be appropriate.
Therefore, applicants may choose to set-aside up to $50,000 annually to
establish and staff a recruitment core.  The roles of this core would
be to:

o  recruit and maintain contact with subjects;

o  assist in making testing arrangements either in the laboratory or at
test sites;

o  collect demographic information from subjects;

o  administer any general performance testing battery (Applicants may
choose to allocate more than $50,000 to the recruitment core if such
performance testing is directly relevant to hypotheses being addressed
either by the Center as a whole or by individual projects.);

o  assist project members in collecting information about subjects from
public records; and

o  support modest payments for participation and transportation to
facilitate recruitment and retention of hard-to-reach groups.


Annual Meeting

Investigators are encouraged to request funds to travel once each year
to meet with the other investigators who are funded through this RFA.
The meetings will be held at the NIH, Bethesda, MD.  The purpose of the
meetings is to have investigators working in the same general area
share information about research methods and findings.  Applicants
should include a statement in the application indicating a willingness
to participate in such meetings and to cooperate with other researchers
in the exchange of data, materials, and ideas.



It is NIH policy that applicants for NIH clinical research grants will
be required to include minorities and women in study populations so
that research findings can be of benefit to all persons at risk of the
disease, disorder or condition under study; special emphasis should be
placed on the need for inclusion of minorities and women in studies of
diseases, disorders and conditions which disproportionately affect
them.  This policy is intended to apply to males and females of all
ages.  If women or minorities are excluded or inadequately represented
in clinical research, particularly in proposed population-based
studies, a clear compelling rationale should be provided.

The composition of the proposed study population must be described in
terms of gender and racial/ethnic group.  In addition, gender and
racial/ethnic issues should be addressed in developing a research
design and sample size appropriate for the scientific objectives of the
study. This information should be included in form PHS 398 (rev. 9/91)
in items 1-4 of the Research Plan and summarized in item 5, Human

Applicants are urged to carefully assess the feasibility of including
the broadest possible representation of minority groups.  However, NIH
recognizes that it may not be feasible or appropriate in all research
projects to include representation of the full array of United States
racial, ethnic minority populations.  The rationale for studies on
single minority population groups should be provided.

For the purpose of this policy, clinical research includes human
biomedical and behavioral studies of etiology, epidemiology, prevention
(and preventive strategies), diagnosis, or treatment of diseases,
disorders or conditions, including but not limited to clinical trials.

The usual NIH policies concerning research on human subjects also
apply.  Basic research or clinical studies in which human tissues
cannot be identified or linked to individuals are excluded.  However,
every effort should be made to include human tissues from women and
racial/ethnic minorities when it is important to apply the results of
the study broadly, and this should be addressed by applicants. If the
required information is not contained within the application, the
application will be returned.

Peer reviewers will address specifically whether the research plan in
the application conforms to these policies.  If the representation of
women or minorities in a study design is inadequate to answer the
scientific question(s) addressed AND the justification for the selected
study population is inadequate, it will be considered a scientific
weakness or deficiency in the study design and will be reflected in
assigning the priority score to the application.

All applications for clinical research submitted to the NIH are
required to address these policies.  NIH funding components will not
award grants or cooperative agreements that do not comply with these


Prospective applicants are asked to submit a letter of intent that
includes identification of other participating investigators and
institutions, and a descriptive title.  The NIA requests such letters
only for the purpose of providing an indication of the number and scope
of applications to be received and, therefore, usually does not
acknowledge their receipt.  A letter of intent is not binding, and it
will not enter into the review of any application subsequently
submitted, nor is it a necessary requirement for application.

The letter of intent is to be received no later than October 2, 1992,
and is to be sent to:

Dr. Robin A. Barr
Behavioral and Social Research
National Institute on Aging
Gateway Building, Room 2C234
7201 Wisconsin Avenue
Bethesda, MD  20892


Prospective applicants are advised to communicate with program and
grants management staff listed below as early as possible in the
planning phase of application preparation.   NIA staff are available to
assist applicants to ensure that the objectives, structure, and the
budget format for the proposed Center are acceptable.

The research grant application form PHS 398 (rev. 9/91) is to be used
in applying for these grants.  This form is available in the applicant
institution's office of sponsored research or business office and from
the Office of Grants Inquiries, National Institutes of Health, Room
449, Westwood Building, Bethesda, MD  20892-9912, telephone (301)
496-7441.  The page limitations apply separately to the management
core, the recruitment core (if proposed), and each individual research
project.  Complete information, including a budget, must be provided
for each component project, the management core, and the recruitment
core.  Section C of the application is the Research Plan.  Individual
projects must follow the instructions for this section as described in
the PHS 398 packet.  For the management core, this section must
describe at least:  (1) The major theme and rationale for the Center;
(2) the organization of the core; (3) the relation between the core and
the individual projects, including oversight responsibilities; (4) the
relation between the core and the community or service groups most
likely to be affected by the research; and (5) the means by which the
core will facilitate application of research results.  For the
recruitment core, this section must describe:  (1) the nature and
characteristics of the proposed recruitment sample; (2) any screening
instruments used to select people as eligible for the study; (3) any
proposed standard batteries of tests that will be administered to the
whole sample; and (4) what recruitment and retention procedures will be
used to obtain and maintain an adequate sample.

To identify the application as a response to this RFA, Check "YES" on
Item 2a of page 1 of the application and enter the title, "Research
Centers on Applied Gerontology" and the RFA number AG-93-02.


Send or deliver the completed application and three signed,
exact photocopies in a single package to the
following office, making sure that the original
application with the RFA label attached is on top:

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

Send two additional copies of the application to:

Scientific Review Office
National Institite on Aging
Gateway Building, Room 2C212
7201 Wisconsin Avenue
Bethesda, MD 20892



Upon receipt, NIA staff will review applications for completeness and
responsiveness.  Applications that are incomplete, nonresponsive to
this RFA, or exceed the annual direct cost limit of $400,000 (including
total costs for sub-contracts) will be returned to the applicant
without further consideration.  The NIA will withdraw from further
competition those applications judged by triage to be noncompetitive
for award and notify the applicant and institutional official.
Applications judged to be competitive will undergo further scientific
merit review by an initial review group (IRG) within the NIA. This
review may involve an applicant interview or site visit.  The second
level of review will be provided by the National Advisory Council on

The most important criterion for scientific merit review will be the
proposed Center's demonstrated potential to act as a conduit between
basic behavioral and social research and applied outcomes.  Both the
evidence of past involvement in related research and the specific plans
for seeking applied outcomes described in the application will be
considered part of that potential.  A related and important criterion
concerns the proposed Center's ability to address the needs of special
populations of older people who are identified as having particularly
pressing concerns.  The following specific criteria reflect how these
overall goals will be implemented in the review process.

1.  Theoretically and empirically supported rationale for the
particular approach to extending basic behavioral and social research
into applied areas.  The rationale with supporting materials must be
described in the section on the management core.

2.  Specific research plans for each individual project proposed for
the duration of the Center.  Each specific project must follow the
structure and level of detail of independent research applications.
Pilot data providing support for the likely success of particular
strategies that apply basic theory or paradigms will be an advantage.
The 25 page limit on the research plan is applied separately to the
individual projects.

3.  An evaluation plan for monitoring the effectiveness of any proposed
interventions.  Attention should be paid in the plan to possible
negative consequences of the intervention as well as the intended
positive outcomes.

4.  A clear description of likely sub-groups of older people who may
benefit from the proposed research and a statement indicating the
sought-after gains (e.g., in health-status, cost-savings, increased
independence, increased productivity)

5.  Leadership ability, relevant experience in appropriate areas, and
scientific stature of the program director.  The time commitment of the
Center Director must be sufficient to show substantial personal
supervision of the various activities of the Center.  A past history of
applying basic behavioral and social research in a relevant area will
be an important advantage.

6.  Qualifications and experience of the core investigators and their
investment of time in the project.

7.  Qualifications and experience of the advisory committee to the
Center.  The presence and commitment of someone on the committee who
has clear links to the communities or services likely to be affected by
the research is essential.

8.  Commitment from the host institution to the research activity and
availability of appropriate facilities for the research activities

9.  The appropriateness of the budget for the Center.

10.  Adequacy of protection against risks to subjects involved in the

11.  Appropriate inclusion of women and minorities (see section on


Awards will be made on the basis of the availability of funds with
consideration being given to program balance, and also from results
obtained through the NIH peer review mechanism.  In addition, the NIA
appreciates the value of complementary funding from other public and
private sources, including foundations and industrial concerns, for
activities that will complement and expand those supported by the NIA.


Inquiries concerning this RFA are encouraged in order to clarify issues
or questions.  The opportunity to clarify any issues or answer any
questions from potential applicants is welcome.

Direct questions on programmatic issues related to the RFA to:

Dr. Robin A. Barr
Behavioral and Social Research
National Institute on Aging
Gateway Building, Room 2C234
7201 Wisconsin Avenue
Bethesda, MD  20892
Telephone:  (301) 496-3136
FAX:  (301) 402-0051

Questions on fiscal matters may be directed to:

Ms. Linda Whipp
Grants and Contracts Management
National Institute on Aging
Gateway Building, Room 2N212
7201 Wisconsin Avenue
Bethesda, MD  20892
Telephone:  (301) 496-1472

Commitment from the applicant will be considered in making final


This program is described in the Catalog of Federal Domestic
Assistance, No. 93.866.  Awards are made under the authority of the
Public Health Service Act, Section 301 (42 USC 241) and administered
under PHS grants policies and Federal Regulations, most specifically at
42 CFR Part 52 and 45 CFR Part 74.  This program is not subject to the
intergovernmental review requirements of Executive Order 12372 or
Health Systems Agency review.


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