Release Date:  February 5, 2001 

RFA:  RFA-CA-01-019 (see replacement RFA-CA-03-007)
National Cancer Institute
Letter of Intent Receipt Date:  June 14, 2001
Application Receipt Date:       July 11, 2001


This initiative is the centerpiece of the National Cancer Institute’s (NCI) 
Extraordinary Opportunity in Cancer Communications. The novelty and scope of 
this initiative reflects the NCI’s recognition that effective communications 
can and should be used to narrow the enormous gap between discovery and 
applications and to reduce health disparities among our citizens. The RFA uses 
the P50 centers award mechanism to invite applications for Centers of 
Excellence in Cancer Communications Research (CECCRs). The Centers must 
include three or more individual hypothesis-driven research projects, pilot or 
developmental research projects, shared resources and a plan for career 
development. To be effective, the Centers’ research should integrate cancer 
communications appropriately into one or more contexts of the cancer 
continuum--from prevention through treatment to survivorship and end-of-life 
research. Communications research also is needed about challenging topics such 
as cancer information seeking, decision making under uncertainty, and genetic 
testing. Centers’ research also should provide insight into mechanisms 
underlying how people process information. It is expected that the Centers’ 
interdisciplinary efforts will result in new and/or improved syntheses, 
theories, methods and interventions, including those for diverse populations. 
The centers will provide essential infrastructure to facilitate rapid advances 
in knowledge about cancer communications, translate theory and programs into 
practice, and train health communication scientists. Potential applicants are 
encouraged to consult the NCI’s Bypass Budget ( for 
background about the NCI’s goals and progress in cancer communications.



Healthy People 2010 defines health communication as the research-based 
crafting and delivery of messages and strategies to promote the health of 
individuals and communities. 

Communication is central to quality cancer care, from primary prevention to 
survivorship (Institute of Medicine (IOM), 1999).    There 
is a substantial literature that shows communication interventions can raise 
awareness of health problems and recommended actions, give people the 
information they need to make informed cancer-related decisions and motivate 
action (e.g., AHRQ, 2000; Skinner et al., 1999; O’Connor et al., 1999; Science 
Panel on Interactive Communication and Health, 1999). The framers of the 
National Cancer Act of 1971 (and the subsequent amendments to that Act) were 
acutely aware of the central importance of cancer communication. Thus, they 
mandated that the National Cancer Institute (NCI) provide a program to 
disseminate scientific and other information regarding the causes, prevention, 
detection and treatment of cancer. Pursuant to this mandate, and mindful of 
the dramatic changes in the technologies of both health care and information, 
the NCI has dramatically expanded its commitment to cancer communications to 
ensure that all Americans have access to the cancer information they need and 
are able to use it effectively. As articulated in the Fiscal Year 2001 and 
2002 NCI Bypass Budgets, the Institute is committed to improve knowledge 
about, tools for, access to, and use of high quality, evidence-based cancer 
communications regardless of race, ethnicity, health status, education, 
income, age, gender, culture, or geographic region. 

Health communication research is a vibrant field concerned with the powerful 
roles performed by human and mediated communication (Kreps, Bonaguro, & Query, 
1998). A wide range of scientists and communicators have been studying the 
process of effective communication and its impact on health for more than 25 
years and much has been learned. There are increasingly refined theories of 
information processing, health communication and health behavior, including 
those that focus on how people represent and process health information, 
respond to cancer-related risks and change cancer-related behaviors. 
Intervention research on effective health communications has contributed to 
increasing proportions of Americans eating at least five fruits and vegetables 
per day, obtaining breast and cervical cancer screening, as well as to 
declining rates of smoking among many groups.

Changes in the role and accessibility of information are altering health care 
practices, patient-physician relationships and the way consumers and patients 
acquire and use information (Eng, et al., 1998; 1999; Patrick, 1999). 
Activated, empowered patients and direct-to-consumer advertising are changing 
the nature of doctor-patient communications, and there is an opportunity to 
examine the impact of these altered relationships.  Home computer and Internet 
use are on the rise, with a recent survey reporting that in the year 2000, 
personal computers were in 58 percent of all U.S. households, and 51 percent 
of all U.S. households had Internet access (PC Data Online, 2000).  
Approximately 70 million people searched for on-line health information in 
1999, and cancer information was one of the most sought-after topics (Cyber 
Dialogue, 2000; Harris Poll, 1999). Both consumers and professionals have, or 
will have, a host of new opportunities for creating, distributing and 
acquiring health information from the World Wide Web, individually-tailored 
print and multimedia materials, interactive computer games, interactive 
kiosks, wireless devices, and many other channels and sources. But empirical 
evidence is critically needed about the efficacy and effectiveness of health 
communications interventions using these modalities. Data especially are 
needed about how these strategies can be used to meet the needs of diverse 
populations. A number of groups and reports, including most recently, the 
National Survey of Attitudes About Clinical Trials (The Cancer Letter, October 
13, 2000), have emphasized the need for major new communication efforts about 
cancer clinical trials. With the rapid pace of discovery in the basic and 
clinical sciences, the aging of the U.S. population, the increasing population 
of cancer survivors, and the growing number of households in which someone is 
a caregiver for a person with cancer, the need and demand for high quality 
cancer information will continue to grow.

Patients are increasingly being asked to make decisions about health care 
choices, such as whether to get a prostate specific antigen (PSA) test or what 
treatment to choose for breast or prostate cancer (e.g., Entwistle et al., 
1998), and these decisions must be informed by effective communication. A 
significant proportion of patients are not satisfied with the communication 
component of their health care interactions, and want more information than 
they receive (e.g., Thorne, 1999). The development of effective interventions 
and tools for informed decision making should use the wealth of available 
evidence from fields such as education, instructional design, cognitive 
psychology, and human factors research. There is an evidence base that shows 
what can be achieved through decision aids, e.g., changes in knowledge and 
some other intermediate outcomes. More research is needed in these areas to 
develop interventions that can be extended beyond clinical settings as well as 
to additional, especially diverse, populations. 

The Science Panel on Interactive Communications and Health (Eng, 1999) 
concluded that few other health-related interventions have the potential of 
interactive health communications to simultaneously improve health outcomes, 
decrease health care costs and enhance consumer satisfaction. New information 
technologies, such as the Internet and World Wide Web, combine the attributes 
of both mass and interpersonal communication (Strecher, 1999). Yet, they 
should not replace older but effective strategies including mass media, one-
on-one counseling, and tailored print communication. Existing and new 
technologies should be integrated based on scientific knowledge to provide a 
menu of choices. 

The increasing complexity of every element of cancer communications, from the 
understanding of cancer itself, to the rapid evolution of new media, to the 
recognition of the manifold needs of diverse audiences, demands a broadly 
interdisciplinary approach.  Bringing people together from different 
disciplines can accelerate the speed with which discoveries are made, 
translated into researchable hypotheses and then developed into products that 
benefit people. A recent IOM report, Bridging Disciplines in the Brain, 
Behavioral and Clinical Sciences, stressed that "solutions to existing and 
future health problems will likely require drawing on a variety of disciplines 
and on approaches in which interdisciplinary efforts characterize not only the 
cutting edge of research, but also the utilization of knowledge" (IOM, 2000, 

Cancer communications will not be understood in a vacuum. Progress can be 
accelerated if clinicians work, for example, with psychologists, advocates, 
communication experts and patients to learn the best ways to engage patients 
in decision making or to talk about participation in clinical trials. 
Molecular biologists could collaborate with epidemiologists, psychologists, 
journalists, genetic counselors, computer scientists, high risk persons and 
others to determine how to communicate about genetic mutations that predispose 
to cancer risks. Mathematicians, decision scientists, and medical 
anthropologists might be engaged in research on cancer risk communication. In 
addition, research teams would benefit from people who understand how to 
communicate and market in compelling, engaging ways in order to transcend the 
deluge of competing media. The challenges of cancer communications will not be 
surmounted if disciplines work in isolation. (Applicants should note that 
these disciplines are provided as illustrative and are not prescriptive. The 
team needed for any project depends on the problem.)

A significant increase in the size of the cancer communications research 
enterprise is needed to develop the next generation of research and 
interventions. At the same time, the enterprise must be informed by a greater 
understanding of the mechanisms by which these communications work and a 
commitment to diffusion. The result should be both knowledge and practical 
strategies to enhance cancer communications and improve the control of cancer. 

In accordance with the National Cancer Institute’s Extraordinary Opportunity in 
Cancer Communications (see, the NCI invites 
grant applications for Centers of Excellence in Cancer Communications Research 
(CECCR).  CECCRs are expected to conduct research that will lead to major 
scientific advances in knowledge about cancer communications and their 
translation into practice. There are several over-arching goals.  
o  Increase the number of investigators from relevant disciplines who focus on 
the study of cancer communications as part of interdisciplinary teams. 
o   Increase the number of peer-reviewed publications in the area of 
communication processes. 
o  Generate basic research evidence to improve understanding of the processes 
underlying effective cancer communication. 
o  Produce evidence-based communication interventions that can be used to modify 
cancer risk behaviors and improve informed decision-making and quality of life.
o  Support novel interdisciplinary research to inform medical and public 
health practitioners about how best to communicate to the public, patients, 
and cancer survivors. 
o  Increase the number of evidence-based interventions in under-studied areas, 
e.g., diagnosis, treatment, survivorship and end-of-life, and on understudied 
o  Train interdisciplinary investigators capable of conducting cutting-edge 
communications research directly relevant to the context of cancer prevention, 
detection, treatment, control, or survivorship.

The focus can include, but is not limited to, cancer risk communication, 
evidence-based interventions to enhance cancer communication, communication 
methods for diverse and under-served populations, innovative communication 
strategies to increase informed decision making and participation in clinical 
trials, communication about genetic testing, survivorship and end of life issues, 
as well as communication interventions to improve cancer prevention and early 
detection behaviors.  We also invite research to elucidate the psychological 
mechanisms underlying the cancer communication process, understand how people use 
cancer information, test innovative strategies to overcome the digital divide in 
access to cancer-related information, and develop and evaluate methods to enhance 
the dissemination of evidence-based cancer communication interventions. 
Researchers are encouraged to examine the ethical issues associated with cancer 
communications as well as the cost-effectiveness of evidence-based interventions. 
Messages and the way messages and information are developed, designed, displayed 
and communicated should be based on scientific evidence. Yet, there is little 
research on the usability of available cancer communications. Centers can conduct 
basic, intervention and diffusion research in a variety of settings, including 
laboratories, clinical and community settings. They do not have to cover all 
aspects of the cancer continuum; focus is expected. However, there should be a 
focus on translatability – from basic to intervention research to dissemination 
and sometimes back again (Hiatt and Rimer, 1999).

Where possible, evidence-based research products should be put quickly into 
the public domain through Web-based access using open source tools. CECCRs 
investigators will be encouraged to share tools not only among themselves but 
also with the larger community. Software and other tools, such as Common 
Gateway Interface (CGI) scripts and interactive data-gathering tools, should 
be thoroughly documented for purposes of replication and dissemination. 
Investigators must provide evidence that they have a mechanism in place by 
which to disseminate evidence-based products and interventions that emerge 
from this research. Reliance on or production of proprietary technologies that 
would inhibit dissemination and replication is discouraged.

Applicants are encouraged to collaborate with other organizations. These may 
include any of the following, but the Centers are not required to do so nor are 
they limited to them: NCI-designated Comprehensive Cancer Centers, Cancer 
Information Service, Special Populations Networks, and other NCI-funded research 
projects, such as the Cancer Family Registries, Cancer Genetics Networks, 
Transdisciplinary Tobacco Use Research Centers (TTURCs) and other SPORES as well 
as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the American Cancer Society 
and other voluntary health associations, the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, 
National Science Foundation grantees, and industry. In addition, collaborations 
should be considered with universities, including Schools of Public Health, 
Historically Black Colleges and Universities, public health agencies, community 
technology centers and other organizations. The active participation of advocacy 
groups and appropriate community organizations is encouraged. Relevant 
collaborations with NIH intramural programs can be included as well. 



Investigators should represent a broad range of disciplines working together 
to increase knowledge about cancer communications. Some centers might be 
virtual centers or collaboratories* where the expertise is drawn from multiple 
locations.  Studies can focus on one-to-one communication, interpersonal 
methods, such as small groups, mass media, print and electronic 
communications, new media or combinations thereof. Since communication 
strategies do not exist in a vacuum, it is likely that applications that focus 
on only one communications strategy will be less competitive. 

To answer some questions, it may be appropriate to generate preliminary data 
via laboratory-based research and smaller-scale studies which permit highly 
controlled manipulation of the components of interventions before launching 
large-scale field trials crucial for determining effectiveness.

The level of specialization in different aspects of cancer communications 
research will vary from center to center, e.g., topics, points on the cancer 
continuum, populations, levels of analysis and types of research. However, the 
centers should focus thematically on areas in which there are significant gaps 
in knowledge and critical needs--where focused, collective, interdisciplinary 
efforts could make a difference. It is incumbent upon investigators to 
articulate the gap areas. It is expected that the CECCRs will catalyze problem 
solving and lead to more rapid advances in knowledge than would be possible by 
depending on individual investigators working in relative isolation. CECCRs 
should contribute to understanding what works and what does not work and why. 
In most cases, the studies will require a recognition of the cognitive, 
psychological, and sociocultural influences on health behaviors. The “sine qua 
non” of the Centers consists of at least 3 research projects with an 
integrative theme, cores and plans for career development and use of 
developmental funds. Investigators are encouraged to include research projects 
that bridge basic and intervention research. 

Potential Research Topics

Note that these are examples only and will not constitute evaluation criteria. 

Elucidate Basic Mechanisms in Cancer Communications

o Answer questions about the mechanisms by which cancer messages exert their 
impact, including mediators of cancer risk communication.

o Clarify how people seek, process and use health information and develop a 
greater understanding of how cognitive and emotional factors affect processing 
(Croyle, Sun, and Hart, 1997).

Explain the Communication Process

o Increase understanding of how people search for, use and respond to cancer 
information within the changing information environment and how this is 
affected by individual factors such as age, ethnicity, income, culture and 

Improve Decision Making

o Improve understanding of how patients process complex information about the 
benefits and risks of different medical options and make decisions in the face 
of considerable uncertainty (Croyle and Lerman, 1999).

o Examine the impact of interventions to improve cancer-related decision 
making and the impact of activated patients upon patient-physician 
communication and family communication.

Improve Risk Communication

o A number of important topics in risk communication research were identified 
as high priorities by experts who attended an NCI-sponsored meeting on cancer 
risk communication (December 1998). The papers from the meeting were published 
in a September, 1999 supplement to the Journal of the National Cancer 
Institute and include many potential topics.

Improve Communication for Diverse Audiences

o Promote knowledge about, access to and use of cancer information for low 
literacy and other diverse audiences as well as children and adolescents 
affected by cancer.

Design More Effective Interventions

o Conduct research that contributes to an effective menu of communication 
choices for different audiences, including traditional communication methods, 
such as mass media, one-on-one and small group education strategies, print and 
telephone communication strategies; proactive strategies, such as telephone 
counseling and tailored print communications; and interactive technologies, 
such as the Internet, kiosks and CD-ROMs. What is the optimal mix of 
communication strategies? How do presentation and format interact to affect 
message impact? How can interventions be combined to maximize their impact?

o Conduct research on the relative contribution to improved outcomes of 
varying amounts of message intensity, complexity, burden on receivers, and 
development costs. Evaluate stepped-care approaches to communications. 
Outcomes include not only behaviors but also health care costs, health care 
utilization, and quality-adjusted life years saved. 

o Examine the impact of integrated communications systems that include 
multiple channels of communication, including interpersonal, intrapersonal, 
mass media and new media to give people the information they want, how they 
want it, when and where they want it.  

Use of the New Media

o Wired for Health ( and the 
recent IOM report Networking for Health ( 
make a number of suggestions for research on the new media. Applicants 
interested in new media research are encouraged to consult these sources. 

Improve Interpersonal Communication

o Examine the role of interpersonal, including physician and/or nurse and 
patient communication and group communication in promoting informed decision 
making, psychosocial adjustment, personal adaptation, and social support for 
individuals confronting cancer. 

Understand and Improve Diffusion of Best Practices

o Identify the fundamental mechanisms that enhance diffusion to populations in 
contrast to the basic mechanisms underlying individual change over time 
(Abrams et al., 1999).

Restrictions on Applications

The NCI now funds many studies that compare tailored print interventions to 
usual care interventions or “kitchen sink” interventions to usual care. 
However, when these studies have not been successful in achieving significant 
impact, it usually has not been possible to identify the reasons. Research 
funded under this initiative should not be limited to studies that focus only 
on outcomes. Rather, the studies should represent a major advance in terms of 
innovation, theory testing, intervention strategy and methodology. A major 
emphasis should be to understand what works, what does not work and why, in 
order to identify generalizable principles and processes of communication.

Research exclusively focused on health professionals is not appropriate. 
Proposals that are exclusively focused on outreach or service delivery also 
are not acceptable. 


The Centers must include three or more individual research projects, which 
reflect hypothesis-driven research, pilot or developmental research projects, 
shared resources and career development. Centers must provide evidence of an 
interdisciplinary focus, including an explanation of how the projects fit 
together across disciplines to promote synergy and syntheses. Evidence of 
plans and mechanisms for dissemination of research findings and products, 
including evidence-based tools and interventions must be stated.

Interactions among CECCRs are an important part of this initiative. Centers 
must identify creative strategies to foster formal and informal intra- and 
inter-center collaborations to identify and address overarching scientific and 
methodological issues. This may be in the form of research collaborations, 
participation in Web-based communication exchanges by scientists on a visiting 
basis, exchange of resources and materials, and other mechanisms. 

A requirement for all CECCR Principal Investigators and selected project 
investigators is participation in two meetings per year in the Washington, DC 
metropolitan area or other mutually convenient location. At least three 
project staff should be budgeted per meeting. Support for this travel should 
be included in the budget. The purpose of these meetings is to share 
scientific information, assess scientific progress, solve problems, identify 
new research opportunities, and establish priorities that will accelerate the 
translation of basic research findings to applied settings in patients and 
populations. Novel opportunities to facilitate collaboration also will be 

Centers must include certification that meets the new requirement for 
education in human subject protections.


Support of this program will be through the specialized center (P50) grant 
mechanism.  Although this RFA uses a P50 mechanism, it is not a SPORE 
(Specialized Programs of Research Excellence).  This mechanism supports the 
full range of research and development from basic to clinical and intervention 
studies.  The spectrum of activities comprises a multidisciplinary approach on 
a specific disease entity or biomedical problem.  These grants differ from 
traditional program project grants in that they are more complex and flexible 
in terms of the activities that can be supported.  In addition to support for 
interdisciplinary research projects, support is also provided for pilot 
research projects, specialized resources, career development programs, and 
shared core facilities.  Applicants will be responsible for the planning, 
direction, and execution of the proposed CECCR program.  Awards will be 
administered under NIH grants policy as stated in the NIH Grants Policy 

The total project period for applications submitted in response to the present 
RFA may not exceed 5 years.  The earliest anticipated award date is March 

Because the nature and scope of the research proposed in response to this RFA 
may vary, it is anticipated that the size of awards will vary also. 

The NCI intends to commit approximately $10 million in FY 2002 to fund 4 to 5 
new grants in response to this RFA.  An applicant may request a project period 
of up to 5 years and a budget for direct costs of up to $1,500,000 per year, 
excluding Facility and Administrative costs on consortium arrangements. 
Because the nature and scope of the research proposed might vary, it is 
anticipated that the size of each award will also vary. Although the financial 
plans of the National Cancer 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 meritorious applications. At this time, 
it is not known if competing renewal applications will be accepted and/or if 
this RFA will be reissued.


Applications may be submitted by domestic 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. Domestic 
applications with foreign components are permitted.

To be considered, applicant organizations must have: (1) an established 
investigator as a Principal Investigator (PI) who can oversee and conduct 
planning activities, provide direction to the CECCR, ensure an 
interdisciplinary research emphasis, and build a career development program; 
and (2) full institutional commitment from the applicant institution. Clearly 
delineated and formally confirmed subcontracted, collaborative scientific 
arrangements with scientists from other institutions, including foreign 
institutions, may be included.

Written and telephone inquiries concerning this RFA are encouraged.  The 
opportunity to clarify  any issues or questions from potential applicants is 
Direct inquiries regarding programmatic issues to:

Gary L. Kreps, Ph.D., Chief
Health Communication and Informatics Research Branch
Behavioral Research Program
Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences
National Cancer Institute
6130 Executive Blvd, MSC 7365, EPN Room 4084
Rockville, MD  20892-7365
Telephone:  (301) 496-7984
FAX:  (301) 480-2087
Direct inquiries regarding review issues to:

Ms. Toby Friedberg 
Referral Officer 
Division of Extramural Activities 
National Cancer Institute 
6116 Executive Blvd., Room 8109, MSC-8329
Rockville, MD 20852 (express courier)
Bethesda MD 20892-8329
Telephone (301) 496-3428
Fax: (301) 402-0275

Direct inquiries regarding fiscal matters to: 
Crystal Wolfrey 
Grants Administration Branch
National Cancer Institute
6120 Executive Boulevard, Suite 243
Bethesda, MD  20892-7340
Rockville, MD 20852 (for express/courier service)
Telephone:  (301) 496-8634


Prospective applicants are asked to submit, by June 14, 2001, a letter of 
intent that includes a descriptive title of the proposed research, the name, 
address, telephone and FAX numbers, and email address of the Principal 
Investigator, 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, 
it allows NCI staff to estimate the potential review workload and plan the 

The letter of intent is to be sent to Dr. Gary Kreps listed under INQURIES, by 
June 14, 2001, the letter of intent receipt date.

Letter of Intent Receipt:         June 14, 2001
Application Receipt Date:         July 11, 2001
Peer Review Date:                 September/October 2001
Review by NCAB Advisory Board:    February 2002
Earliest Anticipated Start Date:  March 2002

The research grant application form PHS 398 (rev. 4/98) is to be used in 
applying for these grants.  Applications kits are available at most 
institutional offices of sponsored research and may be obtained 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, E-mail:  For those applicants with Internet 
access, the 398 kit may be found at  

Additional instructions for preparing a CECCR grant application are available 
from the program staff listed under INQUIRIES and can also be found at the 
following url link:  The 
instructions must be requested and used in preparing a CECCR application.

CECCR Program Requirements

The following information must be provided in the application:

1. A minimum of three fully developed RO1-type research projects; 
2. Evidence of an interdisciplinary focus, including an explanation of how 
the projects fit together across disciplines to promote synergy and 
3. Shared administrative, technical, statistical, and other resources that 
can be justified; 
4. A strong commitment to career development, with a plan included as part of 
the application. This may include new investigators or established 
investigators who wish to change research directions. Recruitment must 
include qualified women and minorities. To this end, each applicant should 
propose a clear policy and plan for recruitment of career development 
candidates. The CECCR application indicate potential mentors who are 
already in place at the proposed CECCR, briefly describe their research 
programs, and describe complementary activities that contribute to the 
interdisciplinary environment for career development (e.g., existing 
training grants, other career development mechanisms and relevant 
5. A proposal to promote developmental and pilot research to facilitate new 
collaborations and the opportunity to pursue challenging new ideas. It is 
important that CECCRs use pilot funds to stimulate projects that take 
maximum advantage of new research opportunities. Such projects may be 
collaborative among scientists within one or more CECCRs, or with 
scientists outside the CECCR environment. The CECCR application should 
propose an institutional review process that selects pilot projects for 
center funding that represent the most innovative and interdisciplinary 
ideas. The NCI is especially interested in opportunities to engage arts 
and sciences university faculties and schools of public health in 
collaboration with medical schools and/or cancer center faculty;
6. Creative strategies to foster formal and informal intra- and inter-center 
collaborations to identify and address overarching scientific and 
methodological issues.
7. Evidence of plans and mechanisms for dissemination of research findings 
and products, including evidence-based tools and interventions.
8. Certification that meets the new requirement for education in human 
subject protections.

All clinical trials supported or performed by NCI require some form of 
monitoring. The method and degree of monitoring should be commensurate with 
the degree of risk involved in participation and the size and complexity of 
the clinical trial.  Monitoring exists on a continuum from monitoring by the 
principal investigator/project manager or NCI program staff to a Data and 
Safety Monitoring Board (DSMB). These monitoring activities are distinct from 
the requirement for study review and approval by an Institutional Review Board 
(IRB). For details about the Policy of the NCI for Data Safety Monitoring of 
Clinical Trials see

Application Preparation/Submission

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. 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 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:

Center for Scientific Review
National Institutes of Health
6701 Rockledge Drive
Room 1040 - MSC 7710
Bethesda, MD  20892-7710
(20817 for express service)
At the time of submission, two additional copies of the application must also 
be sent to:

Ms. Toby Friedberg 
Referral Officer 
Division of Extramural Activities 
National Cancer Institute 
6116 Executive Blvd., Room 8109, MSC-8329 
Rockville, MD 20852 (express courier)
Bethesda, MD 20892-8329

Applications must be received by July 11, 2001.  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 announcement 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 a 
substantial revision of an application already reviewed, but such an 
application must follow the guidance in the PHS Form 398 application 
instructions for the preparation of revised applications, including an 
introduction addressing the previous critique.

Upon receipt, applications will be reviewed for completeness by CSR and 
responsiveness by the National Cancer Institute.  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 
the Division of Extramural Activities of the National Cancer Institute 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 
National Cancer Advisory Board. It is a requirement for funding that at least 
three of the research proposals be approved by peer review.


The criteria to be used in the evaluation of grant applications are listed 

a.  Research Projects:

The Centers must include three or more individual research projects, which 
reflect hypothesis-driven research, pilot or developmental research projects, 
shared resources and career development. It is critical that there be evidence 
of the potential for a meaningful center with a real theme and identity. The 
application must represent more than an interesting collection of projects. 
Within the concept of translational research, reviewers will evaluate each 
research project using the criteria listed below.  Each criterion will be 
addressed and considered by the reviewers in assigning the overall score 
project merit:

a.1.  Significance.  The importance of the research objective to human cancer 
communication and its likelihood of completion within the project period. Does 
the research reflect a continuum from basic research to intervention or 
intervention to dissemination? Or, is there a strong potential for 

a.2.  Approach.  The adequacy of the experimental design and methods to 
achieve the research objectives; clear evidence of co-leadership by a basic 
and more applied scientist in the conception, design and proposed 
implementation of the project. Are the conceptual research 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 interdisciplinary approaches? 

a.3.  Innovation.  Originality and novelty of the experimental design as it 
relates to cancer communication research. Does the project develop new 
methodologies or technologies in cancer communication? Does the research 
design reflect sufficient originality, novelty, and innovation to make it 
highly relevant to the overall goals and objectives of the CECCR?

a.4.  Investigators.  The qualifications of co-investigators to conduct the 
proposed research and the appropriateness of the time commitments of each co-
investigator to the conduct of the project. Are the investigators 
appropriately qualified with demonstrated competence to conduct the proposed 
research? Is the proposed work appropriate to the experience level of the 
principal investigator and project researchers? Are the proposed time 
commitments for all key laboratory and clinical researchers reasonable and 
adequately associated with the project?

a.5.  Environment. The scientific environment in which the research work will 
be done, and the unique features, if any, of the environment to support the 
proposed work. Does the scientific environment in which the work will be done 
contribute to the probability of success? Do the proposed projects take 
advantage of unique and interdisciplinary features in the scientific 
environment and reach out to useful collaborative arrangements? Is there 
evidence of adequate institutional support? Is the project interactive with 
other components of the CECCR, conceptually, experimentally, and 

a.6. Interdisciplinary Collaboration. Is there evidence of significant 
interdisciplinary basic, clinical and public health interactions in the 
conception, design, and proposed implementation of the project?

The initial review group will also examine: the appropriateness of proposed 
project budget and duration; the adequacy of plans to include both genders and 
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.

b. Shared Resources 

b.1. adequacy of the justification for specialized resources relative to its 
essential need for the conduct of CECCR research or pilot projects and CECCR 
collaborative projects;

b.2. adequacy of qualifications and performance (if applicable) of managers of 
resources to conduct high quality, reliable resource operations;

b.3. appropriateness of the requested budgets to conduct each resource 

b.4. adequacy of plans for oversight of resources and the prioritization of 

c.  Career Development 

c.1. adequacy of the process and/or track record for selecting candidates for 
career development who demonstrate potential for independent research careers 
in interdisciplinary cancer communication-related research or who are 
established investigators and are changing the direction of their research 
careers; cross-disciplinary training should enable scientists to bridge 
scientific domains in health communication research, to foster important 
integrative scientific inquiry

c.2. adequacy of the procedures and/or track record to seek out and include 
qualified minorities, women, and persons with disabilities in the career 
development program; 

c.3. adequacy of the individuals available in the program to serve as possible 
mentors of career development candidates; the current availability and 
adequacy of projects for career development candidates

c.4. appropriateness of the budget relative to the proposed plans for 
sustaining a significant activity in career development. Stipends and trainee 
costs are not allowable. However, salary support for career development 
candidates may be required.

c.5. complementary activities that contribute to the environment for career 

c.6. capacity of the overall program to absorb career development candidates 
and prepare them for independent interdisciplinary cancer communication-
related research careers

d.  Developmental Research Program

d.1. adequacy of the process and/or track record for attracting new ideas for 
pilot studies within the CECCR.

d.2. adequacy of the proposed process and/or track record for continuously 
reviewing and funding a spectrum of pilot projects (e.g., research, technology 
development, resources) for their quality, innovativeness, interdisciplinary 
nature and importance to translational research that will have an impact on 
enhancing cancer communication efforts and developing innovative new cancer 
communication programs.

d.3. general quality of the pilot projects provided by the CECCR to 
demonstrate the effectiveness of the process and/or track record of funding 
pilot projects;

d.4. appropriateness of the budget relative to the needs and demonstrated 
capabilities of the SPORE and potential of the program to generate innovative 
pilot projects on a consistent basis

d.5. degree to which developmental funds will be used to stimulate pilot 
projects with interdisciplinary interactions and/or collaborative interactions 
with other scientists within or outside of the parent institution, and 
especially with other NCI-funded centers and large-scale programs

e.  Overall Program Organization and Capability

e.1. scientific qualifications and involvement of the Principal Investigator, 
as well as his/her demonstrated scientific and administrative leadership 
capabilities; adequacy of the time commitment of the Principal Investigator;

e.2. interdisciplinary nature of the proposed research activities, integration 
of the projects around an overarching theme, and plans to effectively pursue 
interdisciplinary research objectives;

e.3. adequacy of access to patients and populations for conducting current and 
projected research;

e.4. adequacy of the procedures, processes, and plans for promoting 
interdisciplinary interactions, including coordination, interaction, 
collaboration and synthesis;

e.4. facilitation of technology transfer; management of the intellectual 
property rights of the CECCR under the requirements of the Bayh-Dole Act and 
NIH funding agreements;

e.5. written assurance that CECCR interactions with commercial entities will 
uphold the principles of academic freedom, including the ability of CECCR 
investigators to collaborate freely, and to send and receive biomedical 
research materials without restriction to other scientific researchers.

e.6. evidence of full protection of human subjects for clinical research 
components, and appropriate mechanisms for the rigorous management and 
verification of research data;

e.7. plans for the recruitment and retention of research subjects and patients 
and adequacy of  those plans to include both genders, minorities and their 
subgroups, and children as appropriate to meet the scientific goals of the 

e.8. adequacy of plans for dissemination of evidence-based interventions.

f. Interactions with Other CECCRs funded in response to this RFA

f.1. adequacy of plans to promote and maintain communication and integration 
of scientific projects of mutual interest with other CECCRs;

f.2. willingness to interact with other CECCRs and with the NCI in sharing 
information, in assessing scientific progress, in identifying new research 
opportunities and in establishing  scientific priorities.

g. Institutional Commitment

g.1. Adequacy of facilities, equipment and space to promote interdisciplinary 
and translational research objectives;

g.2. Adequacy of institutional procedures and plans for monitoring, 
evaluating, and assuming accountability for the general success of the CECCR; 

g.3. Adequacy of the institutional infrastructure for assessing progress and 


A single numerical priority score will be assigned to the CECCR application as 
a whole after discussing all of the review elements listed above.  The score 
will be based on the overall quality of the research projects, the career 
development program and the developmental research program, the overall 
effectiveness and adequacy of shared resources, the overall program 
organization and capability, and the plans for interactions with other CECCRs. 

Although primary emphasis will be placed on scientific merit, significant 
consideration will also be given to interdisciplinary interactions, potential 
for impacting on the disease, inter-Center collaborations and institutional 

Applications recommended by the National Cancer Advisory Board will be 
considered for award based upon (a) scientific and technical merit reflected 
in the priority score; (b) program balance, including in this instance, 
sufficient compatibility of features to make a successful collaborative 
program a reasonable likelihood; and (c) availability of funds. 

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 is 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 103-43). 

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 is 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 clear and compelling 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 may also obtain copies of these policies from the program staff 
listed under INQUIRIES.  Program staff may also provide additional relevant 
information concerning the policy.


All investigators proposing research involving human subjects should read the 
policy that was published in the NIH Guide for Grants and Contracts, June 5, 
2000 (Revised August 25, 2000), available at the following URL address:


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.


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, Centers of Excellence in Cancer 
Communications Research, is related to priority area of cancer prevention and 
control. NCI’s commitment to cancer communications is consistent with the 
Department of Health and Human Service’s expanded health communication effort 
for "Healthy People 2010." Healthy People 2010 defines health communication as 
the research-based crafting and delivery of messages and strategies to promote 
the health of individuals and communities. It is as important to prevention as 
to treatment and as relevant to research as to the NCI’s public service 
functions. This effort will permeate all NCI Divisions. Potential applicants 
may obtain a copy of "Healthy People 2010" at

This program is described in the Catalog of Federal Domestic Assistance No. 
93.399 and 93.393. 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 Parts 74 and 92. 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 

*Originally coined by the National Science Foundation by combining 
"collaboration" and "laboratory," collaboratories are secure, user-
configurable, virtual project spaces. Geared towards fostering inter-
organizational teamwork, they contain rich tools and services for research and 
development projects that span organizations, geographic regions, and time 


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