Release Date:  June 17, 1999

RFA:  AG-99-008

National Institute on Aging

Letter of Intent Receipt Date:  August 2, 1999
Application Receipt Date:  September 22, 1999


The National Institute on Aging (NIA) invites applications for support of
centers, known as Nathan Shock Centers of Excellence in Basic Biology of
Aging.  These Centers will provide support for: 1) an administrative core to
support Center activities; 2) two or more research resource cores such as
specialized animal colonies, biometric services, gene expression microarray
technology, molecular/cell biology services, or shared equipment; and 3) a
research development core.  This Center grant will provide funding for both
core facilities and associated staff to:  enhance the quality of research in
the basic biology of aging; facilitate the planning and coordination of
research on aging activities; establish potential regional or national
technological and/or intellectual resources in gerontology; and provide a
suitable environment for junior faculty and other investigators new to aging
research to acquire research skills and experience at institutions that have
demonstrated commitment to, and expertise in, research on basic biology of


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" by calling 202/512-1800, or from the


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 15
peer-reviewed, externally funded research projects on aging.  In the case of
currently funded program projects (P01s), or similar multi-project research
grants, each research project will be deemed to be a separate project.  Core
components do not qualify.  Minority individuals, women, and persons with
disabilities from qualifying institutions are encouraged to apply.

Institutions without a substantial ongoing program of basic research on aging
are not eligible for this award.  Applications from such institutions will be
considered non-responsive, and will be returned.


The Nathan Shock Centers will be supported through the NIH Core Center Grant
(P30) mechanism.  The P30 mechanism is 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,
R03, R21, R37), program projects (P01), or other Federal or non-Federal peer-
reviewed extramurally-funded grants.  In this respect, the P30 mechanism
builds upon an established base of research excellence that emphasizes common
themes or foci.


The application must request and be recommended for five years to be
considered for funding.  The direct costs requested for the first year may not
exceed $750,000, exclusive of consortium indirect costs, but awards may be
made at levels well below this, depending upon funds available.  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 three percent.  Plans are to make up to 5
awards in fiscal year 2000, depending upon availability of funds and the
receipt of high quality applications.  The anticipated award date is July 1,


Objective and Scope

The goal of this program is to enhance the ability of institutions with well-
developed research programs in basic research on aging to utilize state-of-
the-art research resources to provide the strongest environment for the
conduct of research on aging. Thus, this Request for Applications is intended
to enhance the quality of research in the basic biology of aging, facilitate
the planning and coordination of aging research activities, provide support
and a suitable environment for investigators new to aging research to acquire
research skills and experience at institutions that have demonstrated
commitment to, and expertise in, basic biology of aging research, and to
develop potential regional and/or national resource centers.  Thus, each
application must include:  1) a core to support administrative functions,
advisory committee expenses and staff travel; 2) at least two research core
activities such as animal facilities, biometric support, molecular/cell
biology and/or equipment, etc. which must be utilized by three or more
projects on aging research that are already funded; and 3) a research
development core to support pilot/feasibility projects, and provide temporary
salary support for investigators just entering the research on aging arena to
a point where they can compete for independent support.

Principal Investigator

Responsibility for the planning, direction, and execution of the proposed
project will be solely that of the principal investigator (PI).  The principal
investigator is responsible for overall direction of the Center, and should be
a scientist who can provide effective administrative and scientific
leadership.  The PI may, but need not be, the director of one or more of the
individual cores.  Each core proposed must be directed by an appropriately
qualified scientist.

Administrative/Program Enrichment Core

This core is required for the administrative management of the overall Center,
as well as support for the required outside advisory panel.

The Administrator (if one is used) will assist the Principal Investigator
(Director) in managing the Center, addressing issues of fiscal management and
compliance with institutional, HHS, 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, nor should potential members be contacted, until after
the review process is completed.  However, the panel must be submitted to NIA
prior to funding of awards.  This panel will provide a written evaluation
report to the PI on the progress of the Center, and this report must be
included with each Center's annual progress report to the NIA.

Funds should be requested to permit travel by the Director and one other
senior staff to Bethesda, or elsewhere, for meetings with NIA staff and/or
staff of other Centers.

The remaining elements of this core, i.e., seminar program, conferences, and
staff travel to meetings, are optional.

Narrative description of this core is limited to 5 pages.

Research Resource Cores

These cores will provide support for personnel, equipment, supplies and
limited renovation costs needed to develop new, or improve existing resources,
that foster shared use and collaborative research.  Because a supply of
appropriate animal models that are free of disease is essential for research
on biological aging, support may be requested for the development and
maintenance of animal resources to meet this need.  Support may also be
requested for animal model development costs and animal purchase costs for the
operation of a quality animal facility.  Personnel and equipment costs for
biometrics may also be requested.  To gain insight into the mechanisms of
aging through understanding the underlying intrinsic biology requires a
molecular/cellular biology capability.  Therefore, this core may also request
support for various molecular/cellular research resources for on-going funded
research projects at the institution.  Examples of these and other possible
cores to support at least 3 basic research projects are listed below; these
include, but are not limited to:

o  Animal colonies
o  Cell culture facility
o  Tissue bank:  animal and/or human
o  DNA cloning and sequencing
o  Computing and statistical analysis
o  Cell sorting/flow cytometry
o  Imaging technology
o  Gene expression microarray technology
o  Preparation of biological tools, such as monoclonal antibodies, gene
expression vectors
o  Analytical services, e.g., mass spectrometry, HPLC, GLC

Centers are encouraged to develop resources which will also be available for
collaborative research projects with investigators from other institutions.  A
plan must be presented to describe how such access to Center resources will be
managed, so as not to overwhelm the personnel and resources of the Center. 
The requirement that resources support at least three basic research projects
may be partially met by projects at institutions other than the grantee

The description of each core is limited to 5 pages.

Research Development Core

The Research Development Core will provide support for career development of
junior faculty and other investigators who wish to change career direction
towards aging research in the form of pilot projects.  It may also serve as a
resource for pursuing an exciting new finding beyond the limits that existing
support allows.  Activities that focus resources from a variety of disciplines
on understanding biological processes of aging are encouraged.

The request for Research Development Core support must contain 1) a plan for
the selection of 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 budget for each pilot project, including salary for the investigator, 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).

This core may also provide temporary salary support, not to exceed 24 months,
and research supplies for faculty in specified areas of research complementary
to ongoing activities of the group.  No more than three faculty may receive
salary support through this core at any one time, including salary on pilot
projects.  It must be clearly described how any requested salary support in
this core will enhance the existing program. Funds may also be requested for
salary support for the director of the Research Development Core, who will be
responsible for coordination of all activities within said core.

The Research Development Core may also be used to encourage the career
development of other faculty through the use of research core resources, even
though their salary support is provided from other sources.  This may include
investigators from other institutions, including, but not limited to,
investigators from other Shock Centers.

Finally, this core may include a specific plan for support of research and
training of minority students or faculty, or both.

Narrative description of this core is limited to a total of 10 pages,
excluding the required CV's and list of current research support.  The
description of individual pilot projects is limited to 1 page each.

Other Required Information

A list of all peer-reviewed, externally funded research projects on aging at
the applicant institution should be included with the application.  This
information should include:  name of PI, title of the project, awarding
agency, identifying number if applicable, average annual direct cost, and
approved funding period, and may be supplied in tabular form.


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 policy results from the NIH Revitalization Act of 1993
(Section 492B of Public Law 103-43).

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 in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, Volume 23,
Number 11, March 18, 1994.

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 encouraged to submit, by August 2, 1999, a letter of
intent that includes a descriptive title of the proposed research, the name,
address, telephone number, and email address of the Principal Investigator,
the identities of other key personnel and participating institutions, and the
number and title of this RFA.  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 may be sent by email to Dr. Warner at the address listed under


The applicant is to submit the application using PHS 398 (rev. 4/98).  The PHS
398 forms are available at, or in most
institutional offices of sponsored research, or may be obtained from the
Division of Extramural Outreach and Information Resources, National Institutes
of Health, 6701 Rockledge Drive, MSC 7910, Bethesda, MD 20892-7910, telephone
301/710-0267, email  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 and line 2 of the application should both indicate 
the RFA number.  The RFA label must be affixed to the bottom of the face page. 
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.  The sample RFA label available at: has been modified to
allow for this change.  Please note this is in pdf format.

In addition, the RFA title and number must be typed in line 2 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 to:

BETHESDA, MD 20892-7710
BETHESDA, MD  20817 (for express/courier service)

Send two additional copies of the application to:

Mary Nekola, Ph.D., Chief
Scientific Review Office
National Institute on Aging
7201 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 2C212
Bethesda, MD 20892
Telephone:  301/496-9666
FAX:  301/402-0066

It is important to send these two copies to Dr. Nekola at the same time as the
original and three copies are sent to the Center for Scientific Review.  Any
application received after the receipt date will be returned to the applicant
without review.

Applications must be received by September 22, 1999.


Upon receipt, applications will be reviewed for completeness by the Center for
Scientific Review 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 $750,000 in
direct costs, 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, all applications will receive a written critique and
undergo a process in which only those applications deemed to have the highest
scientific merit, generally the top half of applications under review, will be
discussed, assigned a priority score, and receive a second level review by the
National Advisory Council on Aging.  Because a site visit review is not
currently anticipated, each application must be thorough and complete enough
to stand on its own merits.

The primary criterion for review by the NIA review committee in evaluating
each 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:

Principal Investigator

o  Leadership ability, scientific stature, and commitment to aging of the PI.
o  Ability of the PI to meet the program's demands of time and effort.
o  Evidence of ability to work with others both within and outside of the
applicant institution.

Administrative Core

o  Qualifications, experience and commitment of core director.
o  Presence of an administrative and organizational structure conducive to
attaining the objectives of the proposed program.
o  Evidence that the academic and physical environment is suitable for good
interaction among scientists within the Center and with scientists from other
departments, and/or institutions.
o  Institutional commitment to the requirements of the program, including
provision of space, infrastructure support, and other functions essential for
successful operation of a center.
o  Plan for use of the external advisory committee.

Program Enrichment {optional}

o  Plans for use of staff travel, seminar program and conference funds, if

Research Resources Core

o  Qualifications, experience, and commitment of core director.
o  Potential of each core to establish or promote development of resources for
shared use and collaborative research on aging.
o  Potential of each core to promote basic aging research within the grantee
o  Potential of each core to become a regional or national resource for
investigators outside of the awardee institutions.
o  Management plan for collaborative use of each core by outside
o  For competitive renewal applications, the impact of the Center on
furthering gerontology research locally and nationally during the previous 5-
year funding period should be documented.

Research Development Core

o  Qualifications, experience, and commitment of core director.
o  Extent to which cores would provide opportunities for aging research
experience for junior faculty and investigators new to aging research.
o  Applications for competitive renewal should document how the Research
Development Core led to research publications and successful grant
applications during the previous 5-year funding period.
o  Plan for review and selection of pilot projects.
o  Plan for monitoring progress of investigators supported on pilot projects.
o  Plan for support of minority research and training, if relevant.


o  Appropriateness of the total budget and budgetary requests for the cores
and pilot projects.
o  Quality of proposed external review process.
o  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 1, 2000.  Funding
criteria include scientific merit, uniqueness of research cores, and potential
for scientific impact beyond the grantee institution (based on the review
criteria listed above).  Also important will be program balance and
priorities, and availability of funds.


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

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

Huber R. Warner, Ph.D.
Biology of Aging Program
National Institute on Aging
Gateway Building, Suite 2C231
Bethesda, MD 20892
Telephone:  301/496-6402
FAX:  301/402-0010

Direct inquiries regarding fiscal issues to:

Robert Pike
Grants and Contracts Management Office
National Institute on Aging
Gateway Building, Suite 2N212
Bethesda, MD 20892
Telephone:  301/496-1472
FAX:  401/402-3672


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 PHS strongly encourages all grant and contract recipients to provide a
smoke-free workplace and promote the non-use of all tobacco products.  In
addition, Public Law 103-227, the Pro-Children Act of 1994, prohibits smoking
in certain facilities (or in some cases, any portion of a facility) in which
regular or routine education, library, day care, health care or early
childhood development services are provided to children.  This is consistent
with the PHS mission to protect and advance the physical and mental health of
the American people.

Return to Volume Index

Return to NIH Guide Main Index

Office of Extramural Research (OER) - Home Page Office of Extramural
Research (OER)
  National Institutes of Health (NIH) - Home Page National Institutes of Health (NIH)
9000 Rockville Pike
Bethesda, Maryland 20892
  Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) - Home Page Department of Health
and Human Services (HHS) - Government Made Easy

Note: For help accessing PDF, RTF, MS Word, Excel, PowerPoint, Audio or Video files, see Help Downloading Files.