Release Date:  April 17, 2000

RFA:  MH-01-003

National Institute of Mental Health
National Institute on Aging

Letter of Intent Receipt Date:  August 18, 2000
Application Receipt Date:       September 18, 2000



A mass communications revolution is shaping the social norms, attitudes and 
behaviors in every aspect of social interactions for the new generation in this 
country and changing those of the older generation.  The purpose of this RFA is 
to solicit research applications to address communication issues in HIV/STD 
prevention research, develop models for communication that are appropriate for 
different developmental levels and at- risk groups, and develop preventive 
interventions by using the Internet, mass media, and other communication 
technologies for HIV/STD prevention research. 

Attention to mass communication is necessary to understand the public context 
within which those in the HIV/AIDS community provide public health information.  
In addition to their influence on community norms, the press and other mass 
media institutions may adopt editorial or other policies that make the 
acceptance of HIV-relevant interventions easier or harder and address issues of 
social stigma of HIV.  The communications industry is shifting from 
broadcasting, in which the target audience is largely passive, to interactive 
communication, in which the person who is receiving the information is shaping 
the form and coverage.  News media are connected by the Internet, an expanding 
web of networks, that is attracting a million new users monthly.  These myriad 
of mass communication technologies are valuable tools for contacting others and 
forming new relationships that would not be possible within a community. This 
explosion of communication technology has not been adequately studied in the 
context of public health and disease prevention.  


The Public Health Service (PHS) is committed to achieving the health promotion 
and disease prevention objectives of "Healthy People 2010," a PHS-led national 
activity for setting priority areas.  This Request for Applications (RFA), 
Communications and HIV/STD Prevention, is related to the priority areas of 
Mental Health and Mental Disorders, STDs, and HIV.  Potential applicants may 
obtain a copy of "Healthy People 2010" at


Applications may be submitted by domestic and foreign, for-profit and non-profit 
organizations, public and private, such as universities, colleges, hospitals, 
laboratories, units of State and local governments, and eligible agencies of the 
Federal government. Foreign institutions are not eligible for R03 grants.  
Racial/ethnic minority individuals, women, and persons with disabilities are 
encouraged to apply as Principal Investigators.


This RFA will use the National Institutes of Health (NIH) research project grant 
(R01) and the small grant (R03) award mechanisms. Responsibility for the 
planning, direction, and execution of the proposed project will be solely that 
of the applicant.  The total project period for an application submitted in 
response to this RFA may not exceed five years for an R01 award and two years 
for an R03 award.  This RFA is 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.  
The anticipated award date is April 3, 2001.

For all competing R03 applications and for R01 applications requesting up to 
$250,000 direct costs per year, specific application instructions have been 
modified to reflect “MODULAR GRANT” and “JUST-IN-TIME” streamlining efforts 
being undertaken at NIH.  More detailed information about modular grant 
applications, including a sample budget narrative justification pages and a 
sample biographical sketch, is available via the Internet at:  Applications that 
request more than $250,000 in any year must use the standard PHS 398 (rev. 4/98) 
application instructions.

Because the small grants have special eligibility requirements, application 
formats, and review criteria, applicants are strongly encouraged to consult with 
program staff (listed under INQUIRIES) and to obtain the appropriate additional 
announcements for those grant mechanisms.  Special instructions and information 
for the NIMH Small Grants Program is found at  R03 awards are 
limited to $50,000 direct cost for each of the two years and are not renewable.


The NIMH intends to commit approximately $1.2 million in FY 2001 to fund three 
to five new and/or competitive continuation grants in response to this RFA.  NIA 
is planning to commit approximately $200,000 in FY 2001 to fund two new and/or 
competitive continuation grants in response to this RFA.  An applicant may 
request a project period of up to five years for an R01 award and up to two 
years for an R03 award.  Because the nature and scope of the research proposed 
may vary, it is anticipated that the size of each award will also vary.  It is 
expected that direct costs will be awarded in modules of $25,000, however 
program and grants management adjustments may be necessary prior to award.  
Although the financial plans of the Institutes provide support for this program, 
awards pursuant to this RFA are contingent upon the availability of funds and 
the receipt of a sufficient number of applications of outstanding scientific and 
technical merit.  At this time, it is not known if competing renewal 
applications will be accepted and/or if this RFA will be reissued.



In the past people relied on health personnel and friends for health-related 
information.  Now the Internet and mass media provide a major alternative 
information resource.  Information about STDs and HIV can be accessed from 
communication sources throughout the world.  The purpose of this RFA is to 
solicit research applications to: (1) address communication issues in HIV/STD 
prevention research, (2) describe some major areas that provide opportunities 
for HIV/STD prevention research; and (3) develop mass communication models for 
HIV/STD preventions.

This research initiative is intended to be broad and is based on the classical 
definition of communication:  who transmits what to whom, when, how, in what 
context, and with what effect.  To recognize the more interactive quality of 
communication in this electronic age, search is also added.

Below are some of the research questions that could be addressed under this RFA. 
These examples are not intended to limit investigator-initiated topics that 
relate to the purpose of this RFA.

Phase I:  Exploratory Studies

o  WHO:  Who is using the Internet to learn new material or make new 
acquaintances?  Who is using it for other purposes?  Who is viewed as a credible 
source of information about HIV/STD prevention in the media (e.g., doctors, 
nurses, HIV+ persons, peers, family, and counselors)?

o  WHAT: What are the content and structure of the HIV/STD information being 
exchanged on Internet or being circulated in mass media messages? What are the 
characteristics of the messages (frequency, repetition, dose response, framing - 
loss or gain)?  What is the type of appeal (fear arousal, information 
provision)?  What is the purpose of the message (increase knowledge, change 
attitudes, change perceived norms, increase self-efficacy or social support, 
change behavior, meet new people)?

o  WHOM:  What are the audience/participant characteristics (intelligence level, 
gender, ethnicity, age, religiosity)?

o  WHEN:  What is the appropriate developmental level (e.g., pre-teen, 
adolescent, young adult, adult, older adult) to communicate about sexual 
behavior and/or drugs?  Is different information communicated at different times 
of day (e.g., during the family hour) and in different formats (e.g., sitcoms, 
chat rooms for teens, etc.)

o  HOW:  What channels of communication are used to spread information about 
HIV/STD risk and prevention?  Are these channels amenable to an intervention to 
stop the spread of HIV/STDs?

o  CONTEXT:  What is the setting in which transfer of HIV/STD-prevention 
information occurs?  Is the information received at home, school, work, theatre, 
or in the car? Is the receiver alone or with others?  Is it a private or a 
public place?

o  EFFECT:  Was the information received, i.e., can people recall the message?  
How was the message interpreted?  Did it change knowledge, attitudes, behaviors 
related to HIV/STD prevention?  Did it influence decision-making about partners 
and risky behavior?  Did it generate new options for behavior?

o  SEARCH:  How do people decide that they need information on a health related 
topic?  How do they decide to go to Internet or pay attention to a media message 
about HIV/STD prevention?  What search strategies do people use for such diverse 
searches as finding partners or learning about health-related risks or 
treatments?  How do people decide when they have enough information?  How does 
the Internet compare to other information-search strategies?

Phase II and III Studies: Efficacy Studies of Prevention Strategies

The intent of these studies is to:

o  Develop prevention strategies that could be used to stop the spread of 
inaccurate information or messages that encourage risky HIV/STD-related 
information on the Internet.

o  Develop interventions to prevent young people from becoming involved with 
inappropriate people (e.g., those who are significantly older or are engaging in 
high risk HIV/STD-related behaviors) through chat rooms, bulletin boards, etc.

o  Develop interventions that use mass-media to change community norms about 
HIV/STD prevention, AIDS stigma, persons living with AIDS, etc.

o  Apply knowledge about how middle-aged and older people perceive risk and 
respond to messages about HIV/AIDS in order to develop communication 
interventions that will be effective in reducing HIV/AIDS risks in this 

Ethical and Methodological Studies

These studies will address the following issues:

o  Identification of the ethical issues associated with conducting research on 
the internet (e.g., achieving informed consent, confidentiality, privacy, etc.).

o  Develop innovative methodology to study the impact of the internet and mass 
media on HIV/STD risk-related behaviors.


The Institutes would like to convene in the Washington, D.C. area an annual 
meeting of grantees supported under this RFA in order to network grantees and 
exchange research models and developments.  Provision for participation in this 
meeting should be included in the budget.


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 was published in the Federal Register of March 28, 1994 (FR 59 
14508-14513) and in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, Vol. 23, No. 11, 
March 18, 1994, available on the web at:


It is the policy of NIH that children (i.e., individuals under the age of 21) 
must be included in all human subjects research, conducted or supported by the 
NIH, unless there are scientific and ethical reasons not to include them.  This 
policy applies to all initial (Type 1) applications submitted for receipt dates 
after October 1, 1998.

All investigators proposing research involving human subjects should read the 
"NIH Policy and Guidelines on the Inclusion of Children as Participants in 
Research Involving Human Subjects" that was published in the NIH Guide for 
Grants and Contracts, March 6, 1998, and is available at the following URL 

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.


Prospective applicants are asked to submit 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 a subsequent 
application, the information that it contains allows Institute staff to estimate 
the potential review workload and avoid conflict of interest in the review.

The letter of intent is to be sent to Dr. Willo Pequegnat, listed under 
INQUIRIES, by August 18, 2000.


The research grant application form PHS 398 (rev. 4/98) is to be used in 
applying for these grants.  These forms are available at most institutional 
offices of sponsored research and 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:  The application is also available at


The modular grant concept establishes specific modules in which direct costs may 
be requested as well as a maximum level for requested budgets. Only limited 
budgetary information is required under this approach.  The just-in-time concept 
allows applicants to submit certain information only when there is a possibility 
for an award.  It is anticipated that these changes will reduce the 
administrative burden for the applicants, reviewers and Institute staff.  The 
research grant application form PHS 398 (rev. 4/98) is to be used in applying 
for these grants, with the modifications noted below.


Modular Grant applications will request direct costs in $25,000 modules, up to a 
total direct cost request of $250,000 per year.  (Applications that request more 
than $250,000 direct costs in any year must follow the traditional PHS 398 
application instructions.)  The total direct costs must be requested in 
accordance with the program guidelines and the modifications made to the 
standard PHS 398 application instructions described below:

PHS 398

FACE PAGE: Items 7a and 7b should be completed, indicating Direct Costs (in 
$25,000 increments) and Total Costs [Modular Total Direct plus Facilities and 
Administrative (F&A) costs] for the initial budget period.  Items 8a and 8b 
should be completed indicating the Direct and Total Costs for the entire 
proposed period of support.

the PHS 398 (rev 4/98).  It is not required nor will it be accepted at the time 
of application.

categorical budget tables on page 5 of the PHS 398 (rev. 4/98) Form.  It is not 
required nor will it be accepted at the time of application.

o  NARRATIVE BUDGET JUSTIFICATION - Prepare a Modular Grant Budget Narrative 
page. (See for sample 
pages.) At the top of the page, enter the total direct costs requested for each 
year.  This is not a Form page.

o  Under Personnel, list key project personnel, including their names, percent 
of effort, and roles on the project.  No individual salary information should be 
provided.  However, the applicant should use the NIH appropriation language 
salary cap and the NIH policy for graduate student compensation in developing 
the budget request.

For Consortium/Contractual costs, provide an estimate of total costs (direct 
plus facilities and administrative) for each year, each rounded to the nearest 
$1,000.  List the individuals/organizations with whom consortium or contractual 
arrangements have been made, the percent effort of key personnel, and the role 
on the project.  Indicate whether the collaborating institution is foreign or 
domestic.  The total cost for a consortium/contractual arrangement is included 
in the overall requested modular direct cost amount.  Include the Letter of 
Intent to establish a consortium.

Provide an additional narrative budget justification for any variation in the 
number of modules requested.

o  BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH - The Biographical Sketch provides information used by  
reviewers in the assessment of each individual's qualifications for a specific 
role in the proposed project, as well as to evaluate the overall qualifications 
of the research team.  A biographical sketch is required for all key personnel, 
following the instructions below.  No more than three pages may be used for each 
person.  A sample biographical sketch may be viewed at: 

- Complete the educational block at the top of the form page;
- List position(s) and any honors;
- Provide information, including overall goals and responsibilities, on research 
projects ongoing or completed during the last three years.
- List selected peer-reviewed publications, with full citations;

o  CHECKLIST - This page should be completed and submitted with the application.  
If the F&A rate agreement has been established, indicate the type of agreement 
and the date.  All appropriate exclusions must be applied in the calculation of 
the F&A costs for the initial budget period and all future budget years.

o  The applicant should provide the name and phone number of the individual to 
contact concerning fiscal and administrative issues if additional information is 
necessary following the initial review.

The RFA label available in the PHS 398 (rev. 4/98) application form must be 
affixed to the bottom of the face page of the application and must display the 
RFA number MH-01-003. A sample modified mailing label is available at:  Please note this is 
in pdf format.  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, Communications and HIV/STD 
Prevention (MH-01-003), must be typed on line 2 of the face page of the 
application form and the YES box must be marked. 

The sample RFA label available at: has been modified to 
allow for this change.  Please note this is in pdf format.

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

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

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

Willo Pequegnat, Ph.D.
Center for Mental Health Research on AIDS
Division of Mental Disorders, Behavioral Research and AIDS
National Institute of Mental Health
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 6209, MSC 9619
Bethesda, MD 20892-9619

Applications must be received by September 18, 2000.  If an application is 
received after that date, it will be returned to the applicant without review. 
However, an application received after the deadline may be acceptable if it 
carries a legible proof-of-mailing date assigned by the carrier and the proof-
of-mailing is not later than one week prior to the deadline date (See NIH Guide 
for Grants and Contracts, November 29, 1996).  The Center for Scientific Review 
(CSR) will not accept any application in response to this RFA that is 
essentially the same as one currently pending initial review, unless the 
applicant withdraws the pending application.  The CSR 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 for completeness by the CSR and 
responsiveness by the NIMH staff.  Incomplete and/or non-responsive applications 
will be returned to the applicant 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 
NIMH in accordance with the review criteria stated below.  As part of the 
initial merit review, a process will 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 be 
assigned a priority score.  Applications determined to be non-competitive will 
be withdrawn from further consideration and the Principal Investigator and the 
official signing for the applicant organization will be notified.

Review Criteria  

The goals of NIH-supported research are to advance our understanding of 
biological systems, improve the control of disease, and enhance health.  In the 
written comments reviewers will be asked to discuss the following aspects of the 
application in order to judge the likelihood that the proposed research will 
have a substantial impact on the pursuit of these goals.  Each of these criteria 
will be addressed and considered in assigning the overall score, weighting them 
as appropriate for each application.  Note that the application does not need to 
be strong in all categories to be judged likely to have major scientific impact 
and thus deserve a high priority score.  For example, an investigator may 
propose to carry out important work that by its nature is not innovative but is 
essential to move a field forward.

(1) Significance:  Does this study address an important problem?  If the aims of 
the application are achieved, how will scientific knowledge be advanced?  What 
will be the effect of these studies on the concepts or methods that drive this 

(2) Approach:  Are the conceptual framework, design, methods, and analyses 
adequately developed, well integrated, and appropriate to the aims of the 
project?  Does the applicant acknowledge potential problem areas and consider 
alternative tactics?

(3) Innovation:  Does the project employ novel concepts, approaches or methods?  
Are the aims original and innovative?  Does the project challenge existing 
paradigms or develop new methodologies or technologies?

(4) Investigator:  Is the investigator appropriately trained and well suited to 
carry out this work?  Is the work proposed appropriate to the experience level 
of the principal investigator and other researchers (if any)?

(5) Environment:  Does the scientific environment in which the work will be done 
contribute to the probability of success?  Do the proposed experiments take 
advantage of unique features of the scientific environment or employ useful 
collaborative arrangements?  Is there evidence of institutional support?

The initial review group will also examine: the appropriateness of proposed 
project budget and duration; the adequacy of plans to include both genders, 
minorities and their subgroups, and children as appropriate for the scientific 
goals of the research and plans for the recruitment and retention of subjects; 
the provisions for the protection of human and animal subjects; and the safety 
of the research environment.


Letter of Intent Receipt Date:    August 18, 2000
Application Receipt Date:         September 18, 2000
Peer Review Date:                 November 2000
Council Review:                   January 2001
Earliest Anticipated Start Date:  April 3, 2001


Award criteria that will be used to make award decisions include:

o  scientific merit (as determined by peer review)
o  availability of funds
o  programmatic priorities.


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

Direct inquiries regarding programmatic issues to:

Willo Pequegnat, Ph.D.
Center for Mental Health Research on AIDS
Division of Mental Disorders, Behavioral Research and AIDS
National Institute of Mental Health
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 6209, MSC 9619
Bethesda, MD 20892-9619
Telephone:  (301) 443-6100
FAX:  (301) 443-9719

Dr. Marcia G. Ory
Behavioral and Social Research
National Institute on Aging
Gateway Building, Room 533
7201 Wisconsin Avenue MSC 9205
Bethesda, MD 20892-9205
Telephone: (301) 402-4156
Fax: (301) 402-0051

Direct inquiries regarding fiscal matters to:

Diana S. Trunnell
Grants Management Branch
National Institute of Mental Health
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 6115, MSC 9605
Bethesda, MD 20892-9605
Telephone: (301) 443-2805
FAX:  (301) 443-6885

Mr. Bob Pike
Grants and Contracts Management Office
National Institute on Aging
7201 Wisconsin Avenue, Suite 2N212, MSC 9205
Bethesda, MD 20892-9205
Telephone: (301) 496-1472
Fax: (301) 402-3672


This program is described in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance No. 
93.242 (NIMH) and 93.866 (NIA).  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 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 

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