RELEASE DATE:  November 3, 2003
RFA Number:  RFA-RM-04-008 (formerly RFA-DK-04-003, see NOT-OD-04-008)
                           (see addendum NOT-RM-04-006)

Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS)
National Institutes of Health (NIH)

This RFA is developed as a NIH Roadmap initiative 
(  All NIH Institutes and Centers participate 
in roadmap initiatives.  The RFA will be administered by the National 
Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases on behalf of the NIH.

LETTER OF INTENT RECEIPT DATE:  January 14, 2004; January 14, 2005

APPLICATION RECEIPT DATE:  February 11, 2004; February 11, 2005

o Purpose of this RFA
o Research Objectives
o Mechanism(s) of Support 
o Funds Available
o Eligible Institutions
o Individuals Eligible to Become Principal Investigators
o Special Requirements 
o Where to Send Inquiries
o Letter of Intent
o Submitting an Application
o Supplementary Instructions
o Peer Review Process
o Review Criteria
o Receipt and Review Schedule
o Award Criteria
o Required Federal Citations


The National Institutes of Health recognizes that fusion of information, 
research practices, and technologies from multiple disciplines can foster 
creative approaches to previously intractable problems. The purpose of this 
RFA is to promote training in multiple disciplines so that this type of 
creative problem solving and fusion of disciplines into novel 
“interdisciplines” is more likely to occur. One example of an interdiscipline 
is bioengineering, in which individuals need to understand principles and 
methodologies of biology and engineering in order to pursue their research. 
Recognizing that interdisciplinary approaches are more likely to evolve if 
scientists are formally trained in multiple disciplines and that short, 
intensive training programs can be very effective at providing students with 
the fundamental aspects of a given discipline, this RFA seeks to promote the 
development of new short interdisciplinary training programs for scientists 
at all levels of their careers. These programs can involve varying ratios of 
didactic and research training, but should include both. The goal of all of 
the programs should be for the students to emerge with sufficient 
understanding of a new discipline(s) that they can meld it with their 
previous training to generate new interdisciplines with novel research 

The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is engaged in a series of activities 
collectively known as the “NIH Roadmap” whose goal, in keeping with the NIH 
mission of uncovering new knowledge about the prevention, detection, 
diagnosis, and treatment of disease and disability, is to accelerate both the 
pace of discovery in these key areas and the translation of therapies from 
bench to bedside.  In the course of developing the NIH Roadmap, it has become 
clear that increasingly, scientific advances are being made at the interfaces 
of traditional disciplines, and that approaches to science are becoming more 
integrative.  This requires a cooperative effort, typically in the form of 
investigators from diverse research backgrounds working collectively across 
traditional disciplinary boundaries to answer scientific questions and 
achieve specific endpoints.  This also requires a workforce capable of 
crossing disciplinary boundaries and leading and participating in integrative 
and team approaches to complex biomedical problems.  Building research teams 
for the future has therefore emerged as one of the major themes in Roadmap 
implementation.  (Additional information about the NIH Roadmap can be found 
on the NIH website at:
NIH is particularly interested in developing a new interdisciplinary research 
workforce.  An interdisciplinary approach is distinguished from a 
multidisciplinary approach in that a multidisciplinary approach brings 
experts from diverse disciplines to address collectively a common complex 
problem, each from his or her unique perspective.  By contrast, an 
interdisciplinary approach is what results from the melding of two or more 
disciplines to create a NEW (interdisciplinary) science.  Biophysics, 
biostatistics, bioinformatics, bioengineering, social neuroscience, and 
psychoneuroimmunology are just some examples of existing interdisciplinary 
sciences.  NIH recognizes the value and enormous contributions that existing 
interdisciplinary approaches have made and are making to our understanding of 
health, disease, and disability.  However, the Roadmap is focused on 
developing NEW interdisciplinary approaches and therefore the necessary 
interdisciplinary workforce.  

NIH is proposing a series of initiatives that aim to provide investigators 
with the training to effectively lead and engage in integrative and team 
approaches to complex biomedical problems.  These initiatives fall into three 
categories: programs for long-term interdisciplinary research training; 
short-term courses and research experiences; and curriculum development.  
Collectively, the initiatives provide opportunities for integration of 
disciplines at all stages of investigators’ careers, facilitate communication 
among the disciplines, and ensure the development of necessary infrastructure 
to accomplish the building of the workforce for the research teams for the 
future.  Common features of the proposed initiatives include having: 
comprehensive integrative approaches to solving complex biomedical problems; 
developing and implementing new curricula that integrate disparate 
disciplines; activities that promote cohesiveness among training program 
participants at all levels (faculty-student, student-student, and faculty-
faculty); inclusion of training in the personal and professional skills 
necessary to lead and participate in multidisciplinary teams; outreach to the 
under-represented minority community to ensure their participation; 
monitoring of student progress and outcome; and self-evaluation of the 
training program.  

Specific Objectives

This RFA seeks to promote the development and implementation of new short 
training programs that will provide students who are trained in one 
discipline with fundamental knowledge of one or more other disciplines. 
Recognizing the need for flexibility, the RFA will support 2 general types of 
programs: 1) Short Laboratory Courses (programs with a didactic emphasis on a 
particular discipline or complex biomedical and/or health research problem), 
and 2) Short-term Research Institutes (programs with a research emphasis on a 
particular discipline or complex biomedical and/or health research problem). 

1. The Short Laboratory Courses are expected to recruit students from a 
similar academic discipline so that faculty can build upon a given knowledge 
base in lectures and laboratory instruction. The faculty is expected to 
provide expertise in different aspects of a given discipline(s) or complex 
biomedical and/or health problem. Lectures will form a substantial part of 
the course (>10 hrs/week). Laboratory instruction will be designed to teach 
methodologies, research design, and interpretation rather than to pursue 
individual research projects. Depending on the particular requirements of 
various disciplines, these courses are expected to be 3-8 weeks long.

A considerable degree of flexibility in design of these courses is desirable, 
but the general purpose of these courses is to facilitate the fusion of the 
students’ discipline with that of the faculty. For example, a course could be 
designed to teach chemists enough about medicine to design novel tissue-
specific drugs or drug delivery systems. Faculty might be recruited to teach 
the essentials of immunology, histology, and pharmacology. Laboratory 
instruction might involve methods of microscopy and toxicology. Another 
example would be a course designed to teach mathematicians enough about 
biology to develop models of systems that impact human health. Faculty might 
be recruited from multiple biological disciplines, such as medicine, 
molecular/cell biology, and pharmacology. Lectures and laboratory instruction 
would involve the basics of these subjects as well as 
discussion/demonstration of mathematical models. It is expected that the 
faculty will know enough about the discipline in which their students have 
been trained to provide a vision of how this discipline can synergize with 
their own to result in new, interdisciplinary research opportunities.

2. The Short-term Research Institutes are expected to recruit students with 
either similar or diverse backgrounds, provide them with less than 10 
hours/week didactic training, and involve them in an individual research 
project for 30 or more hours/week. Because these programs emphasize the value 
of “in the lab” training, which often requires more time than didactic 
training, they are expected to be 8-10 weeks in duration. The design of these 
programs can be very flexible. They can be similar in purpose to the Short 
Courses, with a goal of training students of similar academic background in a 
new discipline(s). Alternatively, they may involve students and faculty from 
multiple disciplines whose work is relevant to a common complex biomedical 
and/or health problem. The lectures or seminars should also reflect this 

For example, a course organized around a theme of diabetes might recruit 
students and faculty from general biology, immunology, medicine, psychology, 
and chemistry. The course could involve lectures on metabolism and causes of 
diabetes, autoimmune mechanisms, diabetic pathologies, behavioral issues, and 
tissue engineering. A student would choose to work with a faculty member who 
would provide research training in a discipline outside of the student’s own.  
Faculty members would be expected to mentor the students and teach them how 
their own discipline might fuse with that of the student’s to provide novel 
research opportunities. By exposing the students to many disciplines that 
impinge on a common problem and by providing them with multi-week research 
training in one of these, it is expected that the students will think in 
broader terms about the problem and be able to design novel research 
strategies to solve it.

Both the Short-term Research Institutes and the Short Laboratory Courses are 
expected to be designed for one of three target groups: 1) undergraduate 
students, 2) advanced predoctoral or postdoctoral students, or 3) senior 
scientists. The programs can be designed to train non-life scientists in life 
science disciplines; to train life scientists in non-life science 
disciplines; or to train life scientists of one discipline in one or more new 
life science disciplines if this training will lead to the creation of a new 
interdisciplinary science.  NIH is particularly interested in programs that 
encourage the integration of mathematical, physical, behavioral, and social 
sciences with the traditional biomedical sciences.  Acquisition of new 
knowledge and new laboratory skills that will lead to the creation of a new 
discipline are of fundamental importance to both types of programs. 

This RFA will use the NIH R13 award mechanism. Although R13 applications 
require specific programmatic approval prior to submission, this RFA 
constitutes the necessary prior approval for responsive applications. As an 
applicant you will be solely responsible for planning, directing, and 
executing the proposed project. The anticipated award dates are September 30, 
2004 and September 30, 2005. Applications that are not funded in the 
competition described in this RFA may be resubmitted as NEW investigator-
initiated applications using the standard receipt dates for NEW applications 
described in the instructions to the PHS 398 application. Future unsolicited, 
competing-continuation applications based on this project will compete with 
all investigator-initiated applications and will be reviewed according to the 
customary peer review procedures.  

This RFA uses just-in-time concepts.  It also uses the modular budgeting 
format. (see   
Specifically, if you are submitting an application with direct costs in each 
year of $250,000 or less, use the modular budget format.  This program does 
not require cost sharing as defined in the current NIH Grants Policy 
Statement at  

This RFA will use the R13 award mechanism and has two application receipt 
dates: February 11, 2004 and February 11, 2005. The anticipated award dates 
are September 30, 2004 and September 30, 2005. The NIH plans to commit 
$5,200,000, over three years to support 6-8 new grants in 2004 and 3-4 
additional grants in 2005. An applicant may request a project period of up to 
three years for the 2004 receipt date and up to two years for the 2005 
receipt date. Applicants may request a budget for direct costs of up to 
$200,000 per year. Because the nature and scope of the proposed research will 
vary from application to application, it is anticipated that the size and 
duration of each award will also vary. Although the financial plans of the 
Roadmap 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 meritorious applications.  
You may submit (an) application(s) if your institution has any of the 
following characteristics: 
o For-profit or non-profit organizations 
o Public or private institutions, such as universities, colleges,             
hospitals, and laboratories 
o Eligible agencies of the Federal government  
o Domestic or foreign institutions/organizations


Any individual with the skills, knowledge, and resources necessary to develop 
and implement the proposed programs is invited to work with their institution 
to develop an application for support. The faculty participating in the 
programs are expected to participate as key personnel or co-investigators. 
Individuals from under-represented racial and ethnic groups as well as 
individuals with disabilities are always encouraged to apply for NIH 

The NIH recognizes that individual institutions will be positioned to respond 
in different ways to the opportunities presented in this RFA.  However, all 
programs are expected to provide substantive interdisciplinary didactic and 
research training experiences for the students and will therefore involve 
faculty that cross department, school, or institution boundaries. Students 
supported by these programs are expected to receive instruction and conduct 
research in fields outside of their own.  All applications should address the 
challenges of melding two or more different fields and their associated 
cultures.  Successful programs will have addressed the following: 

Faculty Involvement: The faculty are expected to be experts in their own 
discipline as well as knowledgeable of the discipline(s) of the student pool. 
The effort of the faculty should be consistent with time required for 
lecturing and mentoring during the course of the program.

Student Recruitment: Students in the targeted disciplines should be clearly 
identified. The application should include recruitment and outreach plans, 
particularly with respect to efforts to increase the depth and ethnic 
diversity of the student pool.

Institutional commitment: For the Short Laboratory Courses, laboratory 
training space should be identified and committed by the Institution. This 
may be indicated via a letter from a high-ranking institutional official. 

Program self evaluation: The program should determine its baseline with 
respect to interdisciplinary student training, set measurable goals for 
itself, and establish milestones and measures of success for achieving them. 

Student/Faculty Interaction: Interactions among students and between students 
and faculty will be crucial in establishing long term relationships and 
collaborations that are essential for the establishment of new disciplines. 
Applications should address how these interactions will be fostered. Examples 
of mechanisms fostering program cohesiveness include journal clubs and social 

Leadership and teambuilding skills: These skills will be critical to the 
future success of the students produced by these programs.  Plans should be 
developed and put in place to help students and interested faculty develop 
the leadership skills and understanding of the challenges of group dynamics 
necessary to establish and maintain a genuinely integrated research program.  

We encourage inquiries concerning this RFA and welcome the opportunity to 
answer questions from potential applicants.  Inquiries may fall into three 
areas:  scientific/research, peer review, and financial or grants management 

o Direct your questions about scientific/programmatic issues to:

Betsy Wilder, Ph.D.
Division of Kidney, Urologic, and Hematologic Diseases
National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Diseases/NIH
6707 Democracy Boulevard, Room 623
Bethesda, MD  20892
Telephone:  (301) 594-7717
FAX: (301) 480-3510

o Direct your questions about peer review issues to:

Francisco O. Calvo, Ph.D.
Chief, Review Branch
National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases
6707 Democracy Boulevard, Room 752 
Bethesda, MD  20892-5456
Telephone:  (301) 594-8897
FAX:  (301) 480-3505

o Direct your questions about financial or grants management matters to:

Ms. Carolyn Kofa
Grants Management Branch
National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Diseases/NIH
6707 Democracy Boulevard, Room 727
Bethesda, MD  20892
Telephone:  (301) 594-7687
FAX: (301) 480-4237
Prospective applicants are asked to submit a letter of intent that includes 
the following information:

o Descriptive title of the proposed program
o Name, address, and telephone number of the Principal Investigator
o Names of other key personnel 
o Participating institutions
o 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 a subsequent application, the information that it 
contains allows IC staff to estimate the potential review workload and plan 
the review.
The letter of intent is to be sent by the date listed at the beginning of 
this document.  The letter of intent should be sent to:

Chief, Review Branch 
Division of Extramural Activities, NIDDK
6707 Democracy Boulevard, Rm. 752 MSC 5452
Bethesda, MD  20892-5452
(for express/courier service: Bethesda, MD  20817)
Telephone:  (301) 594-8885
FAX:  (301) 480-3505


Applications must be prepared using the PHS 398 research grant application 
instructions and forms (rev. 5/2001). Applications must have a DUN and 
Bradstreet (D&B) Data Universal Numbering System (DUNS) number as the 
Universal Identifier when applying for Federal grants or cooperative 
agreements. The DUNS number can be obtained by calling (866) 705-5711 or 
through the web site at The DUNS number 
should be entered on line 11 of the face page of the PHS 398 form. The PHS 
398 document is available at in an interactive 
format.  For further assistance contact GrantsInfo, Telephone (301) 710-0267, 
USING THE RFA LABEL: The RFA label available in the PHS 398 (rev. 5/2001) 
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 also available at:
SENDING AN APPLICATION TO THE NIH: Submit a signed, typewritten original of 
the application, including the Checklist, and three signed, photocopies, in 
one package to:
Center For Scientific Review
National Institutes Of Health
6701 Rockledge Drive, Room 1040, MSC 7710
Bethesda, MD  20892-7710
Bethesda, MD  20817 (for express/courier service) 
At the time of submission, two additional copies of the application and all 
copies of the appendix material must be sent to:
Chief, Review Branch 
Division of Extramural Activities, NIDDK
6707 Democracy Boulevard, Rm. 752 MSC 5452
Bethesda, MD  20892-5452
(for express/courier service: Bethesda, MD  20817)
APPLICATION PROCESSING: Applications must be received on or before 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. 

Although there is no immediate acknowledgement of the receipt of an 
application, applicants are generally notified of the review and funding 
assignment within 8 weeks.
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.  
However, when a previously unfunded application, originally submitted as an 
investigator-initiated application, is to be submitted in response to an RFA, 
it is to be prepared as a NEW application.  That is, the application for the 
RFA must not include an Introduction describing the changes and improvements 
made, and the text must not be marked to indicate the changes from the 
previous unfunded version of the application.  

Upon receipt, applications will be reviewed for completeness and 
responsiveness by the NIH. Incomplete and/or nonresponsive applications will 
not be reviewed.
Applications that are complete and responsive to the RFA will be evaluated 
for scientific and technical merit by an appropriate peer review group in 
accordance with the review criteria stated below.  As a part of the initial 
merit review, all applications will:

o 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 and assigned a priority score
o Receive a written critique
o Receive a second level review by an appropriate National Diabetes, and 
Digestive, and Kidney Disease Advisory Council.

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 evaluate the application in 
order to judge the likelihood that the proposed research will have a 
substantial impact on the pursuit of these goals. In addition, the scientific 
review group will address and consider each of the following criteria in 
assigning the application’s overall score, weighting them as appropriate for 
each application. 

Program Goals: 
o goals of the program and how they will foster the formation of new 

Program direction: 
o Research and training leadership and experience of the PI
o Adequacy of the program administration. 

Participating faculty members:
o Composition of the faculty (by rank and distribution in different fields 
and departments)
o Mechanism and criteria for inclusion of the faculty in the program
o Publication records 
o Nature and breadth of research in areas pertinent to this announcement
o Evidence of collaboration and cooperation
o Experience in the supervision of research training

Training program: 
o Goals of program and rationale for program organization
o Mechanism for the selection and recruitment of students
o Mechanism to monitor and guide the students
o Nature and extent of research opportunities and courses in targeted 
scientific areas
o Provisions/activities to promote cohesiveness in the program
o Opportunities for collaboration 
o Integration of the targeted disciplines or adequacy of plans for 
o Flexibility for students to choose course or laboratory work in targeted 
scientific areas
o Provision of leadership/team building training

Student pool: 
o Availability of highly qualified candidates (scientific background, 
academic credentials)
o Caliber of potential students and others identified with the program

Research and training environment: 
o Institutional support for the training program
o Adequacy of plans for student/faculty housing and support during the 
training period
o Facilities and resources available to the program

Program Self Evaluation:
o Assessment of baseline: Methods of determining the level of 
interdisciplinary training students may have prior to beginning the program
o Goals and milestones: Reasonableness of goals. Appropriateness of the 
milestones in achieving the goals.

description of a program to provide formal or informal instruction in 
scientific integrity or the responsible conduct of research. Applications 
without plans for instruction in the responsible conduct of research will be 
considered incomplete and will be returned to the applicant without review. 
The appropriateness of topics, format, amount, and nature of faculty 
participation, and the frequency and duration of instruction.  All 
individuals supported by these grants must receive instruction in the 
responsible conduct of research.  For more information on this provision, see 
the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, Volume 21, Number 43, November 27, 
1992, see .  

subjects and protections from research risk relating to their participation 
in the proposed research will be assessed. (See criteria included in the 
section on Federal Citations, below).
plans to include subjects from both genders, all racial and ethnic groups 
(and subgroups), and children as appropriate for the scientific goals of the 
research.  Plans for the recruitment and retention of subjects will also be 
evaluated. (See Inclusion Criteria in the sections on Federal Citations, 

be used in the project, the five items described under Section f of the PHS 
398 research grant application instructions (rev. 5/2001) will be assessed.  
BUDGET:  The reasonableness of the proposed budget and the requested period 
of support in relation to the proposed research.
Allowable expenses:
o Laboratory supplies
o Student and faculty housing
o Student stipends
o Faculty salary support


Letter of Intent Receipt Date:    January 14, 2004     January 14, 2005
Application Receipt Date:         February 11, 2004    February 11, 2005
Peer Review Date:                 June/July 20004      June/July 2005
Council Review:                   September 2004       September 2005
Earliest Anticipated Start Date:  September 30, 2004   September 30, 2005


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.

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 PA 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.

URLs IN NIH GRANT APPLICATIONS OR APPENDICES: 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.   Furthermore, 
we caution reviewers that their anonymity may be compromised when they 
directly access an Internet site.

HEALTHY PEOPLE 2010: 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 RFA is 
related to one or more of the priority areas. Potential applicants may obtain 
a copy of "Healthy People 2010" at

AUTHORITY AND REGULATIONS: This program is described in the Catalog of 
Federal Domestic Assistance at and is not subject to the 
intergovernmental review requirements of Executive Order 12372 or Health 
Systems Agency review.  Awards are made under the authorization of Sections 
301 and 405 of the Public Health Service Act as amended (42 USC 241 and 284) 
and under Federal Regulations 42 CFR 52 and 45 CFR Parts 74 and 92 . All 
awards are subject to the terms and conditions, cost principles, and other 
considerations described in the NIH Grants Policy Statement.  The NIH Grants 
Policy Statement can be found at 

The PHS strongly encourages all grant recipients to provide a smoke-free 
workplace and discourage the 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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