Release Date:  October 4, 2001

RFA:  RFA-NS-02-011

National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke

Letter of Intent Receipt Date:  December 17, 2001
Application Receipt Date:       January 18, 2002



The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) 
invites grant applications for the formation of cross-disciplinary 
networks of scientists interested in studying the neural mechanisms of 
cognition and other complex behaviors. These research networks will 
allow the formation of novel collaborations among cognitive scientists, 
neuroscientists, behavioral and computational neuroscientists, imaging 
specialists and clinical scientists in order to develop integrative and 
cutting edge research programs that advance our understanding of the 
circuits and pathways of cognitive function. The research plan for 
these networks must be driven by a cognitive neuroscience question 
(e.g., neural mechanisms of attention, emotion, language acquisition, 
memory, perception, sensorimotor integration in various model systems 
and in various clinical populations) and must combine imaging 
techniques with other psychophysiological methods. This RFA is intended 
to begin a process where scientists from various disciplines can 
overcome barriers to cross-disciplinary research agendas addressing the 
dynamic nature of underlying physiological and cognitive systems.



An NINDS workshop on dynamic neuroimaging and multimodal methodologies 
in Cognitive Neuroscience was held on the NIH campus on November 28–29, 
2000 to discuss the opportunities and needs for development of research 
programs in Cognitive Neuroscience that focus on the integration of 
multiple technologies in order to advance our understanding of the 
circuits and pathways of cognitive function. As a result of the 
recommendations from this workshop, this RFA is seeking applications 
that will foster this integration and create a forum for 
interdisciplinary research approaches.  

Cognitive Neuroscience, by its very nature, involves the interface of 
physiological, psychological, and computational approaches to 
understanding cognition. While brain imaging techniques have given us 
greater insight into many cognitive processes, current analyses have 
assumed a single brain state corresponding to a single pattern of 
activity. In order to progress beyond localization of activation, it is 
necessary to understand the interactions among brain areas. One 
promising approach is multimodal integration - the combination of 
imaging and electrophysiological recording techniques to increase the 
precision of temporal and spatial data beyond what is possible with the 
use of a single technique. This initiative will focus on the formation 
of cross-disciplinary networks of scientists interested in studying the 
neural circuits and pathways of cognitive function. These networks are 
intended to facilitate the use of dynamic neuroimaging that integrates 
methodologies such as electroencephalography, magnetoencephalography, 
evoked related potentials, transcranial magnetic stimulation, event 
related optical signals, diffusion tensor imaging (EEG, MEG, ERP, TMS, 
EROS, DTI). The goal of this RFA is to act as a catalyst for the 
formation of novel collaborations among cognitive scientists, 
neuroscientists, behavioral and computational neuroscientists, imaging 
specialists and clinical scientists. Applications received in response 
to this RFA must include a research plan for an integrative and cutting 
edge research program that advance our understanding of the circuits 
and pathways involved in any specified cognitive neuroscience question. 

Research Goals and Topics

Approaches that simultaneously employ fMRI or PET with noninvasive 
electrophysiological techniques provide increased spatial and temporal 
resolution and improve the interpretation of data on any given 
cognitive tasks. Electrophysiological measures have a temporal 
resolution in the millisecond time frame whereas the ultimate temporal 
resolution of fMRI techniques might be limited by the speed of the 
hemodynamic response (in the range of seconds), although the scan time 
for fast fMRI techniques (e.g., echo planar imaging) can be in the 
range of 100 ms or less. Moreover, important information about 
attributes of brain function can be gained from the relationship 
between brain areas in their temporal dynamics (temporal cross 
correlation; sharp rise time; stimulus decay; sustained activation). It 
is clear that innovative solutions for quantifying and analyzing 
cognitive neuroimaging data will require close collaborations among 
scientific teams centrally involving statistical, computational 
scientists, cognitive neuroscientists and biophysicists.  The Networks 
proposed under this RFA must present a creative and well-designed 
research plan that address cognitive neuroscience questions that 
benefit from integrative perspectives. Examples of potential research 
questions would include but not be limited to issues such as:

o  Functional and effective connectivity mapping by combining 
neuroimaging and psychophysical measures.

o  Studies of pathways of cognition with improved design in 
neuroimaging strategies such as event-related imaging, diffusion 
imaging, echo planar imaging, event-related optical signals.

o  Validation of neural and behavioral models using neuroimaging and 
multi-array recording.

o  Studies that compare and calibrate optical imaging data with direct 
electrical recordings.
o  Development of quantitative methods that facilitate integration and 
synthesis among modalities (fMRI, EEG, MEG, ERP, EROS, DTI,TMS etc..)

o  Development of computational modeling systems to provide theoretical 
integration of cognitive functioning and dynamic brain activity.

o  Development of more sophisticated statistical methods and parallel 
data processing algorithms to incorporate and integrate results from 
multiple methodologies. 
Funded network activities might include opportunities for training and 
hosting among network scientists at alternative laboratories or 
research settings to facilitate collaborative grant writing and/or 
pilot funding for collaborative feasibility studies. The purpose of 
these activities and meetings will be to refine conceptual frameworks 
for organizing cross-disciplinary research and identifying which 
specific questions and possible experiments show the greatest promise 
for advancement.

Networks must include representation from multiple disciplines. For 
example, a network would include investigators with demonstrated 
expertise in fMRI, neurophysiology, statistics, signal processing and 
clinical neuroscience. Investigators are encouraged to participate in 
only one network, although exceptions can be made with appropriate 
scientific justifications.  


Principal investigators of grants resulting from this RFA will be asked 
to participate in yearly meetings to report progress, discuss problems, 
and share information related to the conduct of their networks.


This RFA will use the National Institutes of Health (NIH) R01 award 
mechanism.  Responsibility for the planning, direction, and execution 
of the proposed networks will be solely that of the applicant. The 
total project period for an application submitted in response to this 
RFA may not exceed three years.  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. The earliest award date is 
September 30, 2002.

Specific application instructions have been modified to reflect 
"MODULAR GRANT" and "JUST-IN-TIME" streamlining efforts that have been 
adopted by the NIH. Complete and detailed instructions and information 
on Modular Grant applications have been incorporated into the PHS 398 
(rev. 5/2001). Additional information on Modular Grants can be found at


The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke intend to 
commit $3,000,000 to fund approximately 6-8 new networks in response to 
this RFA ($1.5M in FY 2002 and $1.5M in FY 2003).  An applicant may 
request a project period of up to three years and a budget for direct 
costs of up to $250,000 per year (or up to $275,000 per year for 
network grants that include more than one institution to allow for 
facilities and administrative (F&A) costs on consortium arrangements), 
to support research funding for network projects, travel, meeting 
expenses, and cross-training of network scientists. All applications 
submitted in response to this RFA must follow modular grant procedures. 
Because the nature and scope of the research proposed may vary, it is 
anticipated that the size of each award will also vary.  Although the 
financial plans of the institute 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.  Applicants are strongly 
encouraged to discuss their applications with program staff listed 
under INQUIRIES prior to the submission.


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.  
Racial/ethnic minority individuals, women, and persons with 
disabilities are encouraged to apply as principal investigators.


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:

Emmeline Edwards, Ph.D.
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 2109
Bethesda, MD  20892-9521
Telephone:  (301) 496-9964
FAX:  (301) 402-2060

Direct inquiries regarding review issues to:

Lillian Pubols, Ph.D.
Chief, Scientific Review Branch
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 3208
Bethesda, MD  20892
Telephone: (301) 496-9223
FAX: (301) 402-0182

Direct inquiries regarding fiscal matters to:

Ken Bond
Grants Management Branch
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 3290
Bethesda, MD  20892
Telephone:  (301) 496-9231
FAX:  (301) 402-0219


Prospective applicants are asked to submit a letter of intent that 
includes a descriptive title of the proposed network, the name, 
address, and telephone number of the principal investigators 
participating in the proposed network, 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 NINDS staff to estimate the potential review 
workload and plan the review.

The letter of intent must be received by December 17, 2001 as listed in 
the heading of this RFA.  The letter of intent is to be sent to:

Emmeline Edwards, Ph.D.
Program Director
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 2109
Bethesda, MD  20892-9521
Telephone:  (301) 496-9964
FAX:  (301) 402-2060


Letter of Intent Receipt Date:    December 17, 2001
Application Receipt Date:         January 18, 2002
Peer Review Date:                 June 2002
Council Review:                   September 2002
Earliest Anticipated Start Date:  September 30, 2002

Some of the applications selected for funding under this RFA will be 
awarded in fiscal year 2002 (earliest start date of September 30, 
2002), and some will be awarded in fiscal year 2003 (earliest start 
date of December 1, 2002). While NINDS will attempt to accommodate the 
requested start date shown on the PHS 398 application face page, some 
applications will be funded in FY 2003. The start date will not affect 
the likelihood of funding. 


The PHS 398 research grant application instructions and forms (rev. 
5/2001)available at are to be used 
in applying for these grants. This version of the PHS 398 is available 
in an interactive format. For further assistance contact Grants Info, 
Telephone 301/710-0267, Email:


Requests for funds to support attendance at these meetings, to be held 
in the Washington, D.C. area, should be included as a part of the 
budget proposal. Funds may also be requested to support administrative 
costs for the Network Director, communication costs, travel expenses in 
order to attend and participate in the scheduled activities and 
meetings of the network, as well as the evaluation and analysis of 
pilot data by network members.  


For the purposes of this RFA, all applications must follow modular 
grant procedures. 

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 NIH staff. The research grant 
application form PHS 398 (rev. 5/2001) at is to be used 
in applying for these grants, with modular budget instructions provided 
in Section C of the application instructions.

The RFA label available in the PHS 398 application form must be affixed 
to the bottom of the face page of the application.  Type the RFA number 
on the label.  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 2 of the face page of the application form and 
the YES box must be marked. The RFA label is available at: 

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 to:

Lillian Pubols, Ph.D.
Chief, Scientific Review Branch
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke
6001 Executive Boulevard, Room 3208
Rockville, MD 20852 (for express/courier service)

Applications must be received by the application receipt date listed in 
the Heading of this RFA.  If an application is received after that 
date, it will be returned to the applicant without review. 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 


Upon receipt, applications will be reviewed for completeness by the CSR 
and responsiveness by NINDS staff.  Incomplete and/or non-responsive 
applications will be returned to the applicant without further 

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 NINDS 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 the applications under review, will be 
discussed, assigned a priority score, and receive a second level
review by the NINDS National Advisory Council.
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 field?

(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 
method? Are the aims original and innovative?  Does the project 
challenge existing paradigms or develop new methodologies or 

(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?

Additional criteria that are specific for applications received under 
this RFA include:

o  Scientific, technical, or medical significance of the goals that the 
network is designed to achieve. Is there evidence that the integrative 
approach proposed in the network application will address the dynamic 
nature of cognitive systems? 

o  Appropriateness and adequacy of the proposed network design and 
membership for achieving these goals through cross-disciplinary 

o  Feasibility of network participants successfully completing 
scheduled meetings and activities.

In addition to the above criteria, in accordance with NIH policy, all 
applications will also be reviewed with respect to the following:

O The adequacy of plans to include  both genders, minorities and their 
subgroups, and children as appropriate for the scientific goals of the 
research.  Plans for the recruitment and retention of subjects will 
also be evaluated.

O The reasonableness of the proposed budget and duration in relation to 
the proposed research.

O The adequacy of the proposed protection for humans, animals or the 
environment, to the extent they may be adversely affected by the 
project proposed in the application.

O The adequacies of the proposed plan to share data, if appropriate.


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

Only applications judged to have met the highest scientific standards 
of excellence will be considered for award.  Networks must demonstrate 
feasibility for integrated discussions among investigators in pursuit 
of cross-disciplinary research agendas.  Networks proposing themes that 
address high-risk experimental questions, but with high potential 
benefits, will be given careful consideration.


It is the policy of the NIH that women and members of minority groups 
and their sub-populations must be included in all NIH-supported 
biomedical and behavioral research projects involving human subjects, 
unless a clear and compelling rationale and justification are provided 
indicating 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 

All investigators proposing research involving human subjects should 
read the UPDATED "NIH Guidelines for Inclusion of Women and Minorities 
as Subjects in Clinical Research," published in the NIH Guide for 
Grants and Contracts on August 2, 2000 
a complete copy of the updated Guidelines are available at  
The revisions relate to NIH defined Phase III clinical trials and 
require: a) all applications or proposals and/or protocols to provide a 
description of plans to conduct analyses, as appropriate, to address 
differences by sex/gender and/or racial/ethnic groups, including 
subgroups if applicable; and b) all investigators to report accrual, 
and to conduct and report analyses, as appropriate, by sex/gender 
and/or racial/ethnic group differences.


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 address:

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.


All applications and proposals for NIH funding must be self-contained 
within specified page limitations.  Unless otherwise specified in an 
NIH solicitation, internet addresses (URLs) should not be used to 
provide information necessary to the review because reviewers are under 
no obligation to view the Internet sites.  Reviewers are cautioned that 
their anonymity may be compromised when they directly access an 
Internet site.


NIH policy requires education on the protection of human subject 
participants for all investigators submitting NIH proposals for 
research involving human subjects.  This policy announcement is found 
in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts Announcement dated June 5, 
2000, at the following website:


The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) Circular A-110 has been 
revised to provide public access to research data through the Freedom 
of Information Act (FOIA) under some circumstances.  Data that are (1) 
first produced in a project that is supported in whole or in part with 
Federal funds and (2) cited publicly and officially by a Federal agency 
in support of an action that has the force and effect of law (i.e., a 
regulation) may be accessed through FOIA.  It is important for 
applicants to understand the basic scope of this amendment.  NIH has 
provided guidance at:

Applicants may wish to place data collected under this RFA in a public 
archive, which can provide protections for the data and manage the 
distribution for an indefinite period of time.  If so, the application 
should include a description of the archiving plan in the study design 
and include information about this in the budget justification section 
of the application. In addition, applicants should think about how to 
structure informed consent statements and other human subjects 
procedures given the potential for wider use of data collected under 
this award.


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), Multimodal Integration Research Networks in 
Cognitive Neuroscience, is related to one or more of the priority 
areas.  Potential applicants may obtain a copy of "Healthy People 
2010" at


This program is described in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance 
No. 93.853.  Awards are made under authorization of Sections 301 and 
405 of the Public Health Service Act as amended (42 USC 241 and 284) 
and administered under NIH grants policies and Federal Regulations 42 
CFR 52 and 45 CFR Part 74 and 92.  This program is not subject to the 
intergovernmental review requirements of Executive Order 12372 or 
Health Systems Agency review.

The NIH Grants Policy Statement is available at  This document includes 
general information about the grant application and review process; 
information on the terms and conditions that apply to NIH grants and 
cooperative agreements; and a listing of pertinent offices and 
officials at the NIH.  

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 people.

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