Full Text MH-93-008


NIH Guide, Volume 22, Number 12, March 26, 1993

RFA:  MH-93-008

P.T. 04

  Behavioral/Social Studies/Service 
  Behavioral/Experimental Psychology 
  Emotional/Mental Health 
  Aerospace Biomedicine 

National Institute of Mental Health

Letter of Intent Receipt Date:  April 23, 1993
Application Receipt Date:  June 24, 1993


The National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) invites applications
for Centers for Behavioral Science Research (CBSR).  The purpose of
such a Center is to provide a unified, integrated research
environment in which to pursue novel and focused questions in basic
behavioral science related to mental health.  It is expected that
this mechanism will encourage investigators from a variety of
disciplines and approaches to contribute the full range of expertise
and advanced technologies available in the basic behavioral sciences.


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), NIMH Centers for Behavioral Science Research,
is related to the priority area of mental health and mental disorder.
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 public and private
organizations, such as universities, colleges, hospitals,
laboratories, units of State and local governments, and eligible
agencies of the Federal government.  Women and minority investigators
are encouraged to apply.


A CBSR will be supported by the Center grant mechanism (P50), which
provides funding for multidisciplinary and multi-investigator
approaches to the investigation of specific and complex research
problems requiring the application of diverse expertise and
methodologies.  Grants will be administered under PHS policies and

This RFA is a one-time solicitation.  Support may be requested for a
period of up to 5 years.  Future unsolicited competing continuation
applications will compete with all investigator-initiated
applications and be reviewed according to the customary peer review


Up to $1 million total costs will be available in fiscal year 1993 to
support one or two centers, with an anticipated average total cost of
approximately $500,000 per award.  However, the exact amount of
funding available will depend on appropriated funds, the quality of
applications, and program priorities at the time of award.



The basic behavioral sciences are comprised of a number of fields,
including psychology, sociology, anthropology, and linguistics; each
of these fields encompasses a number of sub-fields that, in turn, are
associated with a broad range of conceptual and methodological
strategies.  Current approaches for assessing behavioral processes
range from macro-social (e.g., social class, culture), to
interactional (e.g., interpersonal and group behavior), to individual
psychological processes and characteristics (e.g., cognition,
emotion, personality), and also include physiological processes that
influence and are influenced by behavioral phenomena.  Available
methods and technologies also cover a wide range, including
performance measures, subjective report, behavioral observation, and
detailed psychophysiological assessments.

The goal of the CBSR is to foster integration among the various
behavioral science approaches in order to provide a fuller
understanding of mental health.  In so doing, this program aims to
promote the scientific advances and opportunities that are made
possible by cross-disciplinary collaboration and the cross-
fertilization of approaches.

Center Characteristics

A CBSR is expected to address critical questions in basic behavioral
sciences research through multidisciplinary, integrative, and highly
focused research programs.  A CBSR is characterized as follows:

o  The Center should be conceptualized and organized according to a
broad multidisciplinary framework.  Expertise and technological
support must be available in the Center to address social,
psychological, and biobehavioral levels of analysis in the design and
execution of the research program.  It is not necessary for each
constituent research project to involve all three of these levels,
but they all must be represented in the Center as a whole, and the
overarching Center goal must be to foster their integration.

o  The research questions addressed must concern basic behavioral
processes and mechanisms that are important to understanding mental

o  The research must propose novel approaches and must not duplicate
work that is currently grant supported.

o  The CBSR Director must have a demonstrated capability to organize,
administer, and direct the Center.  This individual should be the
scientific leader of the Center and thus must also be the Principal
Investigator on at least one of the projects and have a minimum time
commitment of 30 percent to the Center.

o  A CBSR should be conceptualized and defined by its integrative,
multidisciplinary nature and need not be limited by geographical or
departmental boundaries.  A research team may consist of
investigators or institutions that are geographically distant, to the
extent that the research design requires and accommodates such

o  A CBSR should provide opportunities for new investigators who have
the potential for independent research careers to become skilled in
the strategies, approaches, and techniques of modern behavioral
science research.  In addition, there should be close coordination
between the Center and relevant predoctoral and/or postdoctoral
research training programs of the institution.

Research Areas

The following are examples of broad behavioral science research areas
related to the NIMH research mission that could be supported by this
program.  The list is not comprehensive.

o  Sensation and perception
o  Motor control and skill
o  Learning and memory
o  Reasoning; problem-solving; decision-making; planning
o  Language and communication
o  Interpersonal interactions and processes, e.g., conflict, status
o  Marital and family relationships
o  Attitudes, persuasion, stereotyping
o  Group identity and behavior, including multi-ethnic and minority
o  Societal and cultural influences on behavior
o  Emotion and mood states
o  Personality/individual differences; gender differences
o  Stress, coping, and adaptation
o  Sleep and circadian rhythms
o  Sexual and reproductive behavior

In keeping with the integrative, multidisciplinary emphasis of the
CBSR, it is very important that attention be given to connections
across these various domains and processes, e.g., links between
emotion and learning or memory, between interpersonal interactions
and physiological reactivity, or between group identity and decision-

In addition to human studies, primate and rodent models are
appropriate.  Also appropriate are theoretical and mathematical
modeling approaches.

Activities Supported

To provide a suitable structure for achieving objectives of this
program, a Center may request funds, in addition to support for the
research projects, as follows:

o  Institutional Environment and Resources:  Funds may be requested
for "core" support.  Core support may include salaries, research
resources to be shared across projects, equipment needed to conduct
the proposed research, and incidental alteration and renovation of
facilities consistent with Public Health Service policy.  Depending
upon the geographical and administrative boundaries of the Center
components, there may be one or more "cores."  Funds provided through
Center grants may not be used for support of trainee stipends, fees,
or other expenses directly related to training activities.

o  Essential Scientific Expertise:  To provide the most effective
combination of scientific knowledge and skills, applicants may
request funds to recruit scientists to augment or strengthen the
skills, expertise, and capabilities of existing staff.  Although
recruitment may take place after the award has been made, the
expertise required, the role in Center activities, and the time to be
devoted to the Center should be provided in the application.  It
should be emphasized, however, that after the award is made, such
individuals may not be recruited to serve as a substitute for a
Project Principal Investigator.



Applications for grants and cooperative agreements involving human
subjects are required to include both women and minorities in study
populations for basic and clinical research, unless compelling
scientific or other justification for not including either women or
minorities is provided.  This requirement is intended to ensure that
research findings will be of benefit to all persons at risk of the
disease, disorder, or condition under study.  For the purpose of
these policies, minorities include U.S. racial/ethnic minority
populations (specifically:  American Indians or Alaskan Natives,
Asian/Pacific Islanders, Blacks, and Hispanics).

It is recognized that it may not be feasible or appropriate in all
basic and clinical research projects to include representation of the
full array of U.S. racial/ethnic minority populations.  However,
applicants are urged to assess carefully the feasibility of including
the broadest possible representation of minority groups in the
project as a whole.  Applications should include a description of the
composition of the proposed study population by gender and
racial/ethnic group, and the rationale for the numbers and kinds of
people selected to participate.  This information should be included
in the form PHS 398 in Sections 1-4 of the Research Plan AND
summarized in Section 5, Human Subjects.

Applications should incorporate in their study design gender and/or
minority representation appropriate to the scientific objectives of
the work proposed.  If representation of women or minorities in
sufficient numbers to permit assessment of differential effects is
not feasible or is not appropriate, the reasons for this must be
explained and justified.  The rationale may relate to the purpose of
the research, the health of the subjects, or other compelling
circumstances (e.g., if in the only study population available there
is a disproportionate representation in terms of age distribution,
risk factors, incidence/prevalence, etc., of one gender or
minority/majority group).

If the required information is not contained within the application,
the review will be deferred until it is complete.  Peer reviewers
will address specifically whether the research plan in the
application conforms to these policies.  If gender and/or minority
representation/justification are judged to be inadequate, reviewers
will consider this as a deficiency in assigning the priority score to
the application.

All applications for research submitted to the National Institutes of
Health (NIH) are required to address these policies.  NIH funding
components will not award grants that do not comply with these


Applicants are encouraged to submit, by April 23, 1993, a letter of
intent.  The letter should include a descriptive title of the
proposed Center, the name, address, and telephone number of the
Center Director, names of other key personnel, and participating

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 is helpful in planning for the review of the
applications.  The letter should be submitted to the NIMH program
contact listed below.


A major requirement for a CBSR is the conduct of multidisciplinary,
integrative behavioral research on focused questions that have
implications for mental health; the nature of these implications must
be stated clearly in the application.  The application must describe
the hypotheses to be tested and the goals and approaches for the
CBSR.  In addition, the application should clearly articulate the
reasons a Center approach is needed for the proposed work as well as
the unique benefits that will accrue from a Center.

General Description of the Center (Not to exceed 10 pages):

An overview should be provided of the entire proposed Center
describing the central theme and goals, and how the Center will
achieve its major objectives.  The proposed contribution of each of
the projects and cores in achieving the objectives of the Center
should be explained.  Furthermore, the administrative arrangements
and support necessary to effect the research should be carefully
described.  In particular, when more than one institutional site is
involved, a detailed statement and supporting documentation for the
cooperative administrative arrangements is required and should be
submitted with the application.  In addition, detailed information
should be provided on collaborations, recruitment, facilities and

Cores (Not to exceed 5 pages for any one core):

The applicant should describe how the core will contribute to the
overall goals of the Center as well as how each specific project will
draw upon a particular core.  The description of each core should
clearly indicate the facilities, resources, services and professional
skills that the facility will provide.

Individual Projects (Not to exceed 10 pages for any one project):

The major research objectives and goals of each project, its
integration with the other projects, and its relationships to the
overall Center should be described.  In addition, detailed
descriptions should be provided on the following:

o  Research Plan:  The questions to be addressed and the hypotheses
to be tested by the proposed research should be highly focused and
fully explained.  Full discussion is required on the status of
current research efforts (both within the Center and elsewhere)
addressing this issue, the limitations of existing approaches, and
why the research necessitates a multidisciplinary, integrative

o  Method:  The application does not require extensive details for
individual projects.  The description of the design, methodology, and
data analysis plan should outline the strategies proposed to
accomplish the specific aims of the project, and should include a
discussion of the innovative aspects of the approach.  However, the
experimental procedures need not be spelled out in great detail if
those procedures have already been extensively published and widely
accepted by the scientific community.  Nevertheless, any new
methodology and its advantage over existing methodologies should be
fully described.  Furthermore, the feasibility of the proposed
studies, the potential pitfalls, relevant alternative approaches
should changes become necessary, and their relevance to the goals of
the Center should be fully discussed.  The methods to be used should
be cited and referenced.  It should be emphasized that this
necessitates the inclusion of investigators that are considered to be
leaders in their fields and whose studies are widely published and
accepted by the scientific community.

o  Operational Plan:  A description of the resources and working
arrangements required to implement the research plan should be fully
elaborated.  A detailed description should be given of all research
components.  A distinction must be made between those resources that
already are in place (including staff) and those resources that must
be added to complete the proposed research.

The research grant application form PHS 398 (rev. 9/91) is to be used
in preparing an application for support.  However, the applicants
should follow the page limitations as outlined in this RFA.  The form
PHS 398 application kit is available the applicant institution's
office of sponsored research; from the Office of Grant Inquiries,
Division of Research Grant, National Institutes of Health, 5333
Westbard Avenue, Room 449, Bethesda, MD  20892, telephone 301/496-
7441; and from the NIMH program contact listed below.  Item 2a on
page 1 of the application must read:  "MH-93-08:  NIMH CENTERS FOR

A signed original and four exact copies of the application must be
sent directly to:

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

For planning purposes, an additional copy of the application must be
sent to:

Salvatore N. Cianci, Ph.D.
Division of Extramural Activities
National Institute of Mental Health
5600 Fishers Lane, Room 9-95
Rockville, MD  20857


Review Process

After initial assignment to NIMH, applications submitted in response
to this RFA will be reviewed by NIMH staff to determine if they
satisfy the objectives and requirements of a CBSR as outlined in this
RFA (excluding scientific or technical merit).  Applications that do
not meet these objectives and requirements will not be accepted and
will be returned to the applicant.

Accepted applications will be reviewed for scientific and technical
merit by a special review committee (SRC), composed primarily of non-
Federal scientists, and by the National Advisory Mental Health

Summaries of SRC recommendations will be sent to applicants as soon
as possible after the meeting of the SRC.

Review Criteria

Criteria for review of CBSR applications will include the following:

o  Intrinsic merit:  The overall quality, scientific merit, and
innovativeness of the research to be done; the likelihood that the
work will lead to fundamental advances within the field, to new
discoveries, and/or to new technological developments.  In addition,
the research conducted must center around a highly focused and well-
defined research problem.

o  Appropriateness of the Center approach:  The need for and
suitability of the Center approach; whether or not a Center approach
will add significantly to what could be accomplished through other
modes of research support.  In this respect, the integration of
component projects is of utmost significance and should be described

o  Research competence:  The qualifications and scientific
credentials of the Center Director and constituent project directors
will be considered.  It is expected that these individuals will be
regarded by their peers as leaders in their respective fields.

o  Center director credentials:  Ability of the Center Director to
organize, direct, and administer the Center and, in addition, be the
Principal Investigator on at least one of the proposed projects.  It
is expected that this individual will devote a minimum of 30 percent
time to the Center.  Thus, the Director must by necessity be the
scientific leader of the Center.

o  Institutional commitment:  The nature and level of resource
commitments and resources available from the home institution and
from other participant institutions; and plans for interactions with
the rest of the sponsoring institution.

o  Appropriateness of management plans and arrangements:  The
feasibility and adequacy of the organizational and administrative
plans; the appropriateness of the budget; and the mechanisms to
evaluate the Center's progress.

o  Quality and appropriateness of the research career development
components of the Center's activities:  The effectiveness of
approaches used to attract and involve young investigators and
students who show potential for significant contributions and
independent research careers.

o  Human and animal subjects:  Adequacy of the Center's plans for the
protection of human and animal subjects.

o  Gender and minority concerns:  Adequacy of the Center's plans to
address gender and minority issues in the proposed research.

Recommendations of the SRC will be for the application in its
entirety.  Under some circumstances, it may be appropriate for the
SRC to recommend that one or more constituent project(s) not be


o  Scientific merit of the research program as determined by peer
o  Responsiveness to the objectives outlined in this RFA
o  Availability of research funds and the competing demands of other
research funding requirements

Receipt and Review Schedule

Letter of Intent Receipt Date:  April 23, 1993
Application Receipt Date:       June 24, 1993
Administrative Review:          June/July 1993
SRC Review:                     July/August 1993
Advisory Council Review:        September 13-14, 1993
Anticipated Start Date:         September 30, 1993


Inquiries from potential applicants are strongly encouraged.  The
opportunity to clarify any issues or questions from potential
applicants is welcome.  Direct the letter of intent and inquiries
regarding programmatic issues to:

Mary Ellen Oliveri, Ph.D.
Division of Neuroscience and Behavioral Science
National Institute of Mental Health
5600 Fishers Lane, Room 11C-10
Rockville, MD  20857
Telephone:  (301) 443-3942
FAX:  (301) 443-4822

Direct inquiries regarding fiscal matters to:

Diana Trunnell
Grants Management Branch
National Institute of Mental Health
5600 Fishers Lane, Room 7C-23
Rockville, MD  20857
Telephone:  (301) 443-3065


This program is described in the Catalog of Federal Domestic
Assistance No. 93.242.  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 as implemented through
Department of Health and Human Services regulations at 45 CFR part
100 or Health Systems Agency review.


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