Full Text AG-94-006


NIH GUIDE, Volume 23, Number 32, August 26, 1994

RFA:  AG-94-006

P.T. 04


National Institute on Aging

Letter of Intent Receipt Date:  October 15, 1994
Application Receipt Date:  November 29, 1994


The National Institute on Aging (NIA) invites applications for support
of centers of excellence in research on basic biological mechanisms of
aging, to be known as Nathan Shock Centers of Excellence in Basic
Biology of Aging.  These Centers will provide support for a research
development core; a core to support resources such as animal resources,
biometric services, molecular/cell biology services, and shared
equipment; and a program enrichment core in support of basic biological
research on aging.  The purpose of this core center grant is to provide
funding for core facilities and associated staff that serve the various
ongoing research on aging projects on a shared basis so as to enhance
the quality of research in the basic biology of aging, facilitate the
planning and coordination of research on aging activities, and provide
a suitable environment for fellows and junior faculty to acquire
research skills and experience at institutions that have demonstrated
commitment to, and expertise in, research on basic biology of aging.


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), Nathan Shock Centers of Excellence in Basic
Biology of Aging, is related to the priority area of chronic disabling
conditions.  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 non-profit organizations and
institutions, State and local governments and their agencies, and
authorized Federal institutions.  To be eligible for award as a Nathan
Shock Center of Excellence, the applicant institution must currently
support a minimum of fifteen peer-reviewed, externally funded research
projects.  In the case of currently funded program projects (P01s), or
similar grants, each research component will be deemed to be a separate
project.  Supportive core components do not qualify.  Minority
individuals and women from qualifying institutions are encouraged to


The Nathan Shock Centers will be supported through the NIH Core Center
Grants (P30) mechanism.  Responsibility for the planning, direction,
and execution of the proposed project will be solely that of the
applicant.  The total project period for applications submitted in
response to this RFA may not exceed five years.  The anticipated award
date is July 1995.


Support may be requested for a period of five years.  The direct costs
requested for the first year may not exceed $325,000, exclusive of
indirect consortium costs.  Applications with budget requests exceeding
this amount will not be accepted by the NIA and will be returned to the
applicant.  Budget increments for subsequent years will be limited to
no more than four percent.  Plans are to make two or three awards in
fiscal year 1995 and further awards in fiscal years 1996 and 1997
depending upon availability of funds.



Human life expectancy has increased some 25 years in less than a
century, a figure that is nearly equal to the gain that had been
achieved in the preceding 5,000 years.  This has resulted in an
unprecedented increase in the number and proportion of older persons in
the population.  It is therefore important for social, cultural, and
economic reasons that research efforts to understand the underlying
mechanisms of aging be expanded.  One of the mandates of the NIA is to
develop research approaches to extend the vigorous and productive years
of life.

It is clear that aging is not only complex, but also highly variable.
Why is individual aging so varied?  How do we explain a longer life
expectancy for women than men in view of the fact the women report more
illness and health care utilization than men at every age comparison?
How can physiological age be determined and related to chronological
age?  How can the various theories of aging be integrated to provide a
more unified description of biological aging and thus, an indicator for
fruitful directions for future research on aging?  The goal of the Core
Center program is to enhance the ability of institutions with
well-developed research programs in basic research on aging to provide
the strongest environment for the conduct of research on aging by
providing state-of-the-art research resources to find answers to the
many complex questions of aging.  Thus, institutions without a
substantial ongoing program of basic research on aging are not
encouraged to apply for a Nathan Shock Center of Excellence in Basic
Biology of Aging award.

Objective and Scope

A Core Center grant for aging research is awarded to enhance the
quality of research in the basic biology of aging, facilitate the
planning and coordination of aging research activities, and provide
support and a suitable environment for fellows and junior faculty to
acquire research skills and experience at institutions that have
demonstrated commitment to, and expertise in, basic biology of aging
research.  The purpose of the core grant is to provide funding for core
facilities and associated staff that serve the various aging research
projects on a shared basis.

The Core Center is a mechanism designed to enhance and extend the
effectiveness of a group of related projects and investigators that are
already funded through other mechanisms such as research projects
grants (R01), program projects (P01), FIRST awards (R29), MERIT awards
(R37), or other Federal or non-Federal peer-reviewed extramurally-
funded grants.  In this respect, the Core Center mechanism builds upon
an established base of research excellence that emphasizes common
themes or foci.  Each Core Center Grant must include (a) a core
resources component and (b) a limited program enrichment component in
support of administrative functions and advisory committee expenses.
Activities such as animal facilities, biometric support, molecular/cell
biology and/or equipment, which must be utilized by three or more
projects on aging research that are already funded, would be supported
in the Resources core.  A research development core and an expanded
program enrichment core to support conferences, symposia, travel to
scientific meetings and special consultants are optional.  The research
development core would provide support for pilot/feasibility projects
or temporary salary support to investigators just entering the research
on aging arena to a point where they can compete for independent
support.  Such salary support usually would not exceed two years.  An
appropriately qualified scientist must be named as a director of each
core proposed as well as a Center Director for overall direction.

Resources Core (Required)

This core will provide support for personnel, equipment, supplies and
renovation costs needed to develop new, or improve existing resources
that foster shared use and collaborative research.  Renovation costs
may not exceed $150,000 for the entire award period.  Since a supply of
appropriate animal models that are free of disease is essential for
research on biological aging, support will be provided for the
development and maintenance of animal resources to meet this need.
Support may be requested for necessary personnel, facility improvement
costs, animal model development costs, and equipment, supplies and
animal purchase costs for the operation of a quality animal core
resource facility in support of three or more basic research projects.

Simply having appropriate animals available for the conduct of research
is not enough; it is necessary that they be used in an effective manner
(experimental design) to achieve reliable data for hypothesis testing.
Proper experimental design and subsequent data analysis is a necessity
for meaningful results, not only of animal studies, but of all
research.  Therefore, personnel and equipment costs for biometrics
support of all center research may be requested.

To gain insight into the mechanisms of aging through understanding the
underlying intrinsic biology of aging requires a molecular/cellular
biology capability.  Therefore, this core may also provide
molecular/cellular research resources for on-going funded research
projects at the institution.  Examples of such core resources include,
but are not limited to:

o  Cell culture facility
o  DNA sequencing
o  Computing and statistical analysis
o  Cell sorting/flow cytometry
o  Monoclonal antibody production
o  Preparation of cloning vectors
o  Ultracentrifugation equipment
o  Analytical services, e.g., mass spectrometry, HPLC, GLC

Support may be requested both to purchase equipment and for personnel
to operate and maintain the equipment.  Any equipment or facility
supported in this core should involve sharing by at least three
independently supported research projects and must be justified in
terms of need to meet the goals of these projects.  Since this
component may consist of several cores, each may use a maximum of 10

Research Development Core (Optional)

The Research Development Core is to provide support for personnel,
equipment, and other resources that will enhance the quality of
currently supported research, support pilot study projects, and serve
as a resource for pursuing an exciting new finding beyond the limits
that current support allows.  Activities that focus resources from a
variety of disciplines on understanding biological processes of aging
are encouraged.

The focus of proposed core activities should conform with needs of
funded research projects at the institution.  Applicants should
describe concisely the currently supported projects that will use the
core facilities.  The description of the projects proposed should
include a rationale to show how the core will support the research
effort in a cost effective manner, and how they will enhance the
quality of research and/or provide a suitable environment for training
and career development of research fellows and junior faculty in basic
biology of aging.

This core may also provide temporary salary support, not to exceed 24
months, for one newly named principal investigator in specified areas
of research complementary to ongoing activities of the group.  No more
than three junior faculty may receive salary support through this core
at any one time and no individual may receive salary support for more
than three years.  It must be clearly described how any requested
salary support in this core will enhance the existing program.

The budget for each pilot project may not exceed $50,000 per year
(direct cost) and the total budget for pilot projects under this core
may not exceed $100,000 per year (direct cost).

Request for Research Development Core support must contain (1) a plan
for the selection of junior faculty to be supported, (2) a general plan
for the career development of individuals who will be selected for
these positions, (3) a plan for review and selection of pilot projects
to be pursued, and (4) a list of senior faculty who will participate in
research career development, along with their curriculum vitae and
current research support.  The institution must be able to demonstrate
adequate resources for the support of the research efforts of proposed
junior investigators and a plan for monitoring their progress and
development toward independence.

The research development core may also serve to encourage the career
development of other junior faculty (in addition to those receiving
salary support from this core) by coordinating the use of research core
resources by those whose salary support will be provided from other

Funds may also be requested for salary support for a director of the
research development core, who will be responsible for coordination of
all activities within said core. Narrative description of this core is
limited to 10 pages and description of individual pilot projects to one

Program Enrichment Core (Required)

This core is required in so far as it provides support for the
administrative management of the overall Center as well as support for
the required outside advisory panel.  The remaining elements of this
core, i.e., conferences, symposia, meeting travel, are optional.

The Center Director should be a scientist who can provide effective
administrative and scientific leadership.  The Administrator (if one is
used) will assist the Director in managing the Center, addressing
issues of fiscal management and compliance with institutional, PHS, NIH
and NIA policies.  In addition, each Center must have an advisory panel
of experts from outside the institution that will meet at least once a
year to review Center activities.  This panel should not be named until
after the review process is completed, but must be approved by NIA
prior to funding of awards.  This panel will provide a written
evaluation report on the progress of the Center which must be included
with each Center's annual progress report to NIA.  Funds may be
requested to permit travel by junior staff (whose travel is not
otherwise covered) to scientific meetings or by the Director and one
other senior staff to Bethesda for meetings with NIA staff and/or staff
of other Centers.  Narrative description of this core is limited to 10



It is the policy of the NIH that women and members of minority groups
and their subpopulations must be included in all NIH supported
biomedical and behavioral research projects involving human subjects,
unless a clear and compelling rationale and justification is provided
that inclusion is inappropriate with respect to the health of the
subjects or the purpose of the research.  This new policy results from
the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993 (Section 492B of Public Law 103-43)
and supersedes and strengthens the previous policies (Concerning the
Inclusion of Women in Study Populations, and Concerning the Inclusion
of Minorities in Study Populations), which have been in effect since
1990. The new policy contains some provisions that are substantially
different from the 1990 policies.

All investigators proposing research involving human subjects should
read the "NIH Guidelines For Inclusion of Women and Minorities as
Subjects in Clinical Research," which have been published in the
Federal Register of March 28, 1994 (FR 59 14508-14513) and reprinted in
the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, Volume 23, Number 11, March 18,

Investigators also may obtain copies of the policy from the program
staff listed under INQUIRIES.  Program staff may also provide
additional relevant information concerning the policy.


Potential applicants are asked to submit, by October 15, 1994, a letter
of intent that includes a descriptive title of the proposed research,
the name, address, and telephone number of the Principal Investigator,
the identities of other key personnel and participating institutions,
and the number and title of the RFA in response to which the
application may be submitted.  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 allows NIA
staff to estimate the potential review workload and to avoid conflict
of interest in the review.

The letter of intent is to be sent to Dr. Richard L Sprott at the
address listed under INQUIRIES.


The applicant is to submit the application using PHS 398 (rev. 9/91).
Application kits containing this form and the necessary instructions
are available in most institutional offices of sponsored research and
may be obtained from the Office of Grants Information, Division of
Research Grants, National Institutes of Health, 5333 Westbard Avenue,
Room 449, Bethesda, MD 20892, telephone 301/710-0267.  Applicants are
urged to obtain from the NIA Scientific Review Office, guidelines for
preparing multicomponent applications, which contain information not
found in the standard PHS 398 kit.  NIA program staff are available to
provide guidance, in relation to both scientific and administrative
issues, in the development of the application.

The RFA label available in the PHS 398 application form must be affixed
to the bottom of the face page of the application.  Failure to use this
label could result in delayed processing of the application such that
it may not reach the review committee in time for review.  In addition,
the RFA title and number must be typed in line 2a of the face page of
the application form and the YES box must be marked.  Send or deliver
the original, signed application and three legible complete photocopies

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

Send two additional copies of the application to:

Michael Oxman, Ph.D.
Scientific Review Office
National Institute on Aging
Gateway Building, Room 2C212
7201 Wisconsin Avenue
Bethesda, MD  20892
Telephone:  (301) 496-9666
FAX:  (301) 402-0066

It is important to send these two copies at the same time as the
original and three copies are sent to the Division of Research Grants.

Any application received after the receipt date will be returned to the
applicant without review.


Applications must be received by November 29, 1994.  Upon receipt,
applications will be reviewed for completeness and responsiveness by
NIA staff.  To be complete, an application must be approved, as
appropriate, by an applicant institution's IRB and IACUC.  Incomplete
applications will be returned to the applicant without further
consideration.  If NIA staff find that the application is not
responsive to the RFA, or if the first year budget request exceeds
$325,000 in direct costs, exclusive of indirect costs requested for
consortiums, it will be returned without further consideration.

Applications that are complete and responsive to the RFA will be
evaluated for scientific and technical merit by an appropriate peer
review group convened by the NIA in accordance with the review criteria
stated below.  As part of the initial merit review, a process (triage)
may be used by the initial review group in which applications will be
determined to be competitive or non-competitive based on their
scientific merit relative to other applications received in response to
the RFA.  Applications judged to be competitive will be discussed and,
if found to have significant and substantial merit, will be assigned a
priority score.  Applications determined to be non-competitive will be
withdrawn from further consideration and the principal
investigator/program director and the official signing for the
applicant organization will be promptly notified.  Because a site visit
is not currently anticipated, each application must be thorough and
complete enough to stand on its own merits.  The second-level review
will be made by the National Advisory Council on Aging at its May 1995
meeting, for funding beginning in July 1995.

The primary criterion for review by the NIA review committee in
evaluating each grant application will be the potential of the proposed
center to enhance research programs on basic mechanisms of aging.  Not
all additional criteria are applicable to every application, depending
on number and extent of proposed cores.  Specific review criteria are:

1.  Contribution of cores to enhancement of ongoing research at the
proposed Center to better understand basic mechanisms of aging.

2.  Extent to which cores would provide opportunities for research
experience for fellows and junior faculty.

3.  Leadership ability and scientific stature of the program director
and his/her ability to meet the program's demands of time and effort.

4.  Qualifications, experience, and commitment of the investigators
responsible for core units and their ability to devote the required
time and effort to the program.

5.  Presence of an administrative and organizational structure
conducive to attaining the objectives of the proposed program.

6.  Arrangements for internal quality control of ongoing research, the
allocation of funds, day-to-day management, contractual agreements, and
the internal communication and cooperation among investigators in the

7.  Resource-related expenses on existing research project grants which
can be transferred to the budget for this center to achieve greater
efficiency and promote collaboration.

8.  Quality of proposed external review process.

9.  Appropriateness of the total budget and budgetary requests for the
cores and new program development projects.

10.  Academic and physical environment as it bears on space and
equipment and on the potential for interaction among scientists within
the center and with scientists from other departments, and/or

11.  Institutional commitment to the requirements of the program.

12.  The adequacy of the means for protecting against risks to human
subjects, vertebrate animals and/or the environment.


The anticipated date of the first year award will be July 1995.
Funding criteria will be scientific merit (based on the review criteria
listed above), availability of funds, and programmatic priorities.


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

Direct inquiries regarding programmatic issues and address the letter
of intent to:

Richard L. Sprott, Ph.D.
Biology of Aging Program
National Institute on Aging
Gateway Building, Room 2C231
7201 Wisconsin Avenue
Bethesda, MD  20892
Telephone:  (301) 496-4996
FAX:  (301) 402-0010

Direct inquiries regarding fiscal issues to:

Robert Pike
Grants and Contracts Management Office
National Institute on Aging
Gateway Building, Room 2N212
7201 Wisconsin Avenue
Bethesda, MD  20892
Telephone:  (301) 496-1472
FAX:  (301) 402-3672


This program is described in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance
No. 93.866.  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 or Health Systems Agency review.

The Public Health Service (PHS) strongly encourages all grant
recipients to provide a smoke-free workplace and promote the non-use of
all tobacco products.  This is consistent with the PHS mission to
protect and advance the physical and mental health of the American


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