Full Text HD-94-017


NIH GUIDE, Volume 23, Number 12, March 25, 1994

RFA:  HD-94-017



National Institute of Child Health and Human Development

Letter of Intent Receipt Date:  May 31, 1994
Application Receipt Date:  July 27, 1994


The National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD)
invites research grant applications for the support of basic and
applied research to evaluate the affect of intravaginal products,
treatments, and spermicides on vaginal immunology.  An important part
of the mission of the NICHD is to gain new knowledge about human
reproduction, especially those that may lead to new approaches to
contraception.  This Request for Applications (RFA) is intended to
address that charge.


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 RFA,
Vaginal Immunology:  Interaction with Intravaginal Products, is
related to the priority area of primary prevention of sexual spread
of HIV infection with the use of topical microbicides and
contraceptives.  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 20402-9352 (telephone 202-783-3238).


Applications may be submitted by domestic non-profit and for-profit
organizations, public and private.  Foreign institutions are not
eligible for First Independent Research Support and Transition
(FIRST) (R29) awards.  Minority individuals, persons with
disabilities, and women are encouraged to apply.


This RFA will use the NIH individual research project grant (R01) and
FIRST (R29) award as the support 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 the present RFA may not exceed
five years.  The expected award date is March 1, 1995.

This RFA is a one-time solicitation.  Future unsolicited competing
continuation applications will compete with all
investigator-initiated applications and be reviewed according to the
customary peer review procedures.  Because the nature and scope of
the research proposed in response to this RFA may vary, it is
anticipated that the size of an award will also vary.


It is expected that up to five new applications will be funded,
within the total cost limit of $1,000,000 available for the first
year.  This level of support is dependent on the receipt of
sufficient number of applications of high scientific merit.  Although
this program is provided for in the financial plans of the NICHD,
awards pursuant to this RFA are contingent upon the availability of
funds for this purpose.



Very little information exists about the immune responses of the
human vagina and cervix.  Human immunodeficiency virus (HIV), the
causative agent of AIDS, is transmitted most commonly to women from
the semen of infected men.  However, the mechanism by which
HIV-infected semen, deposited in the vagina during intercourse,
causes infection is not known.  Furthermore, it is unknown what
regulates viral shedding from genital tract mucosa of HIV-infected
women as it pertains either to sexual or mother-to-child
transmission.  Furthermore, transmission of HIV from women may be
clarified if the immune response in the vagina and cervix are better

Detergent-based spermicides can disrupt cell membrane integrity,
including integrity of the vaginal epithelium and can cause
inflammation severe enough to be visible or symptomatic in a
significant number of users.  This direct effect of nonoxynol-9 on
the vaginal epithelium has lead some to hypothesize that the dose and
frequency or duration of exposure may impact on vaginal barrier use
on HIV risk.

Our knowledge of the interaction between intravaginal products and
vaginal immune responses is very limited.  Little is known about the
effect of intermittent or chronic use of these intravaginal products
on the vaginal immune response or ecosystem including the vaginal
epithelium, cervical mucosa, secretions, cervical mucus, normal
flora, vaginal pH, and mucosal immunity.

Basic and applied research are needed on the effects of intravaginal
therapy on vaginal immunology in order to develop safe, effective
intravaginal products to prevent pregnancy and STD transmission.


For the purpose of this RFA, research subject areas would include,
but not be limited to, the following:

o  Delineate how endocrinologic and biological factors such as
exogenous hormones (oral contraceptives, time of the menstrual cycle,
pregnancy, and menopause affect the mucosal immune response in the
reproductive tract and alter an HIV-negative woman's susceptibility
to HIV infection or an HIV-positive woman's infectiousness.

o  Delineate characteristics influencing the concentration and
activation of lymphoid cells in the vagina when exposed to semen.

o  Assess the effect of artificial colonization with bacteria such as
lactobacilli on the local immune responses as a mechanism to resist

o  Determine how and whether spermicides, douches, and topical agents
(antibiotics, antifungals etc) affect the vaginal/cervical secretory
or cell-mediated immune responses.

o  Determine what characteristics are desirable in a formulation of a
topical drug to maintain or enhance mucosal cell-mediated or
secretory immune responses.

NOTE:  The use of STDs as a model to understand vaginal physiology is
outside the scope of this RFA.



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 9, 1994 (FR 59 11146-11151) and reprinted
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.

(NOTE:  When the proposed study or studies in the RFA or PA involves
a gender specific study or a single or limited number of minority
population groups, this should also be stated to inform potential
applicants and reviewers.)


Prospective applicants are strongly encouraged, but not required, to
submit, by May 31, 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

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 NICHD staff to estimate the potential review
workload and to avoid conflict of interest circumstances in the
review process.

The letter of intent is to be sent to Dr. Pamela Stratton at the
address listed under INQUIRIES.


The research grant application form PHS 398 (rev. 9/91) is to be used
in applying for these grants.  These forms are available at most
institutional offices of sponsored research; and from the Office of
Grants Information, Division of Research Grants, National Institutes
of Health, Westwood Building, Room 449, Bethesda, MD 20892, telephone
(301) 496-7441.

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 on
line 2a of the face page of the application form and the YES box must
be marked.

Applications for the FIRST Award (R29) must include at least three
sealed letters of reference attached to the face page of the original
application.  FIRST Award (R29) applications submitted without the
required number of reference letters will be considered incomplete
and will be returned without review.

Applicants from institutions that have a General Clinical Research
Center (GCRC) funded by the NIH National Center for Research
Resources may wish to identify the GCRC as a resource for conducting
the proposed research.  If so, a letter of agreement from either the
GCRC program director or principal investigator could be included
with the application.

Submit a signed, typewritten original of the application, including
the Checklist, and three signed photocopies, in one package to:

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

At the time of submission, two additional copies of the application
must be sent to:

Susan Streufert, Ph.D.
Division of Scientific Review
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Building 6100, Room 5E03
6100 Executive Boulevard, Room 5E03
Bethesda, MD  20892

Applications must be received by July 27, 1994.  If an application is
received after that date, it will be returned to the applicant.  The
Division of Research Grants (DRG) will not accept any application in
response to this announcement that is essentially the same as one
currently pending initial review, unless the applicant withdraws the
pending application.  The DRG will not accept any application that is
essentially the same as one already reviewed.  This does not preclude
the submission of substantial revisions of applications already
reviewed, but such applications must include an introduction
addressing the previous critique.


Upon receipt, applications will be reviewed by NIH staff for
completeness and responsiveness.  Incomplete applications will be
returned to the applicant without further consideration.  If the
application is not responsive to the RFA, it will be returned to the
applicant, who may then submit it to DRG for review in competition
with unsolicited applications at the next available review cycle.

Responsive applications may be triaged by a peer review group to
determine their relative competitiveness.  The NIH will withdraw from
further competition those applications judged to be non-competitive
for award and notify the applicant Principal Investigator and
institutional official.  Those applicant judged to be competitive
will undergo further evaluation for scientific merit in accordance
with the criteria stated below for scientific/technical merit by an
appropriate peer review group convened by the National Advisory Child
Health and Human Development (NACHHD) Council.

Review criteria for RFAs are generally the same as those for
unsolicited research grant applications, including:

o  scientific, technical, or medical significance and originality of
proposed research;

o  appropriateness and adequacy of the experimental approach and
methodology proposed to carry out the research;

o  qualifications and research experience of the Principal
Investigator and staff, and of collaborators, if applicable;

o  adequacy of time and effort dedicated to the project;

o  availability of the resources necessary to perform the research;

o  appropriateness of the proposed budget and duration in relation to
the proposed research;

o  for studies in HIV-infected women, documented collaboration with
ongoing epidemiologic studies of HIV-infected women, including but
not limited to the Women and Infants Transmission Study (WITS), the
Women's Interagency HIV Study, and the HIV Epidemiologic Research
Study (HERS).

o  for studies of any other cohort of women, documented collaboration
with gynecologists or other clinicians who have access to the number
and type of women who are proposed to be studied.


The earliest anticipated date of award is February 1, 1995.   Funding
decisions will be based on peer review and NACHHD Council
recommendation, program relevance, and availability of funds.  In
some cases, if the proposed research has relevance to other
Institutes of the National Institutes of Health, such as the National
Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the application may be
dually assigned to, and considered for funding by, the other
institute.  Any such assignment will be made independently of peer
review procedures.


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

Direct inquiries regarding scientific issues and address the letter
intent to:

Pamela Stratton, M.D.
Contraceptive Development Branch
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Building 6100, Room 8B13
Bethesda, MD  20892
Telephone:  (301) 496-1661
FAX:  (301) 496-0962

Direct inquiries regarding fiscal matters to:

Melinda Nelson
Office of Grants and Contracts
National Institute of Child Health and Human Development
Building 6100, Room 8A17
Bethesda, MD  20892
Telephone:  (301) 496-5481


This program is described in the Catalog of Federal Domestic
Assistance No. 93.864, Population Research.  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 CRF 52 and 45 CFR Part 74.  This program is not
subject to the intergovernmental review requirements of Executive
Order 12374 or health Systems Agency review.

The Public Health Service 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 people.


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