EJustifications for Center Programs Used in Recent RFAs and PAs

Publication Details

1. The scientific opportunities and/or public health needs that the center program addresses have high priority.

Excellence in Partnerships for Community Outreach, Research on Disparities in Health and Training (Project EXPORT). Consistent with the goals of the trans-NIH Strategic Plan, EXPORT Centers will focus on research aimed at reducing and eliminating health disparities, improving research capacity, and providing outreach and education (RFA-MD-03-002).

Centers of Excellence in Chemical Methodologies and Library Development. Consistent with the stated mission of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), which is to support “basic biomedical research that is not targeted to specific diseases, but that increases understanding of life processes…,” the rationale behind this RFA is that advances in fundamental, enabling methodologies for diversity-oriented synthesis will produce lasting benefits for all of biomedical science, including biology and medicine (RFA-GM-01-006).

Centers for Oceans and Human Health. This RFA draws on the recommendations contained in the strategic plans of the Participating Agencies (NIEHS, 2000; NSF, 2000a, 2000b), those highlighted by the Ocean Studies Board of the National Research Council (NRC, 1999), and those discussed at a government-sponsored Roundtable on Oceans and Human Health held in Research Triangle Park, NC, December, 2001 (RFA-ES-03-003).

Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Centers. Five scientific priority areas have been developed after a series of workshops and meetings held on this topic attended by scientists, representatives from breast cancer advocacy groups, and health care practitioners (RFA-ES-03-001).

Regional Centers of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases Research. As identified by the recently convened National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) Blue Ribbon Panel on Bioterrorism and Its Implications for Biomedical Research, there is a critical need for the establishment of highly developed research and development infrastructure with strong translational research capacity to implement the Biodefense Research Agenda of NIAID (RFA-AI-02-031).

Centers for Population Health and Health Disparities. This RFA draws on the recommendations contained in the strategic plans of the sponsoring National Institutes of Health (NIH) institutes concerning health disparities, those submitted to NIH from the conference entitled “Toward Higher Levels of Analysis: Progress and Promise in Research on Social and Cultural Dimensions of Health,” and those highlighted by numerous recent National Academy of Sciences and Institute of Medicine Reports (RFA-ES-02-009).

Centers of Excellence in Cancer Communications Research. 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.…Potential applicants are encouraged to consult the NCI's Bypass Budget for background about the NCI's goals and progress in cancer communications (RFA-CA-01-019).

2. Centers would provide an organizational environment that facilitates activities that individual-investigator grants or other mechanisms of research support cannot easily provide.

These activities include:

• Multidisciplinary collaborations for problems that require diverse scientific backgrounds.

Centers of Excellence in Complex Biomedical Systems Research. NIGMS currently is committed to supporting the analysis of complex biological systems through investigator-initiated research project grants, using the R01, P01, R21, and other appropriate grant mechanisms. However, the resources needed to conduct the multifaceted, multidisciplinary projects that may be required to achieve significant advances in these complex areas may be beyond the scope of the typical R01 or P01 grant (RFA-GM-01-001).

Transdisciplinary Prevention Research Centers. It is expected that a transdisciplinary approach will bring diverse and multiple scientific perspectives to catalyze new thinking about prevention research questions. The scientific interactions and collaborations supported by this center model are intended to maximize scientific creativity and stimulate new developments in the field of drug abuse prevention research more rapidly than would be possible by depending on individual investigators working in relative isolation (RFA-DA-02-005).

Centers of Excellence in Chemical Methodologies and Library Development. The Chemical Methodologies and Library Development Centers will feature collaborations and team approaches that otherwise would not be established, including individuals from various subdisciplines within the field of chemistry and/or from cognate fields that will contribute toward the development of novel enabling methodologies (RFA-GM-01-006).

Centers for Oceans and Human Health (COHH). COHH are expected to create an environment conducive to interdisciplinary and reciprocally beneficial collaborations among biomedical scientists (e.g., epidemiologists, pharmacologists, toxicologists, microbiologists, cell and molecular biologists) and ocean scientists (e.g., biological and physical oceanographers, geochemists, and ecologists) with the common goal of improving our knowledge of the impacts of the ocean on human health (RFA-ES-03-003).

Exploratory Center Grants for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research. … NIGMS hosted a workshop on the Basic Biology of Mammalian Stem Cells…The workshop report summarizes many fascinating opportunities to use HESC [human embryonic stem cells] to study important biological problems and identifies activities that need to be addressed in order to stimulate and facilitate the use of HESC as a model system. These activities include: continued interdisciplinary collaborations and discussions between stem cell researchers and basic biologists … (RFA-HL-03-003).

Network for Translational Research: Optical Imaging. It is anticipated that translational research will require broad, multidisciplinary teams. They should include representatives of fields necessary for successful completion of the proposed basic research and translational projects, and might include molecular biologists, chemists, physicists, optical and computer engineers, imaging scientists and physicians, among others (RFA-CA-03-002).

Regional Centers of Excellence (RCE) for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases Research. The intent of the RCE Program is to support any substantial range of research, training, and development activities as long as the plan involves vibrant, multidisciplinary approaches that transcend customary thinking and organizational structures to address critical questions related to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Category A-C Agents from very basic to clinical (RFA-AI-02-031).

Centers for Population Health and Health Disparities (CPHHD). CPHHD are expected to create an environment conducive to interdisciplinary and reciprocally beneficial collaborations among biomedical scientists, social scientists, and affected communities with the common goal of improving population health and reducing health disparities (RFA-ES-02-009).

Centers of Excellence in Cancer Communications Research (CECCR). 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.…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 (RFA-CA-01-019).

Institutional Center Core Grants to Support Neuroscience Research. Center Core Grants will foster a cooperative and interactive research environment through which multidisciplinary approaches to neuroscience problems and joint research efforts will be stimulated (PAR-02-059).

Fragile X Research Centers. The supplement within a P30 Center is designed to encourage and support broadly based multidisciplinary research programs that have a well-defined central research focus or objective in fragile X syndrome research. This supplement, the Fragile X Research Center, is based on a unique and new concept for the purposes of this RFA: a “Center within a Center.” … An important feature of this new “Center within a Center” concept is that the interrelationships among the individual projects and Cores proposed for the Fragile X Research Center will result in a greater contribution to the overall MRDDRC [Mental Retardation and Developmental Disabilities Research Centers] goals than if each project was pursued independently (RFA-HD-02-009).

• Multi-investigator teams capable of a scope of activities not possible with other funding mechanisms.

Centers of Excellence in Complex Biomedical Systems Research. The Center Grant mechanism (P50), together with the Planning Grant mechanism (P20), will support the development of multi-investigator teams capable of engaging biomedical complexity with a scope of activities not possible with other funding mechanisms (RFA-GM-01-001).

Centers of Excellence in Chemical Methodologies and Library Development (CMLD). It is clear that innovations in one aspect of library methodology research will permit or even require complementary advances in others.…Thus, for maximum impact, Centers should feature broadly diversified research teams. While chemists from any subdiscipline may participate in a CMLD Center, collaborations that cross traditional subdisciplinary boundaries (e.g., organic, inorganic, analytical, physical, computational, and polymer chemistry) and that feature complementary (i.e., nonredundant) skills are particularly encouraged (RFA-GM-01-006).

Research Core Centers for Advanced Neuroinformatics Research. The aim is to assemble teams of peer reviewed, federally funded, basic and clinical neuroscience investigators from diverse institutions by providing additional excellent shared computer sciences research resources and facilities (e.g., for hardware and software development, and/or computer facilities, data processing and analysis) for their coordinated, collaborative activities (PAR-03-037).

Centers for Population Health and Health Disparities. Projects will bring together the skills of basic, clinical, and public health intervention research scientists with other population research scientists, such as anthropologists, demographers, economists, epidemiologists, psychologists, sociologists, historians, and political scientists to support multiple levels of analysis within and/or across research projects supported by Center funding (RFA-ES-02-009).

Autism Research Centers of Excellence: The STAART Program. What distinguishes a research program that is appropriate for STAART [Studies to Advance Autism Research and Treatment] support from a research program that is better supported through a series of R01 grants? …Meaningful and committed interactions among the disciplines must be evident.…Results of one subproject may well affect the understanding and interpretation of data from another project and thereby influence the nature of the research being performed in one or more of the other subprojects. The feasibility of the research proposed on any subproject might be significantly diminished if that subproject were submitted as a traditional individual research grant (R01) application…the STAART Centers Program will represent a substantial increase in the scope of the scientific enterprise related to this disorder, particularly as it provides a specific emphasis on and direct funding for treatment research (RFA-MH-02-001).

• Translation of basic research to clinical practice.

Transdisciplinary Prevention Research Centers (TPRC). Transdisciplinary collaborations in these TPRCs should: (1) stimulate the translation of basic science discoveries (from both preclinical and human laboratory-based or field investigation) into the design of novel preventive interventions, and (2) capitalize on opportunities from drug abuse prevention research to inform the design of basic science investigations on vulnerability to drug abuse and addiction (RFA-DA-02-005).

Breast Cancer and the Environment Research Centers. The National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences and NCI invite applications to create a network of research centers in which multidisciplinary teams of scientists, clinicians, and breast cancer advocates work collaboratively on a unique set of scientific questions that focus on how chemical, physical, biological, and social factors in the environment work together with genetic factors to cause breast cancer. Answering these questions will allow the translation of such findings into information that can be applied to increase awareness of the causes of breast cancer (RFA-ES-03-001).

Muscular Dystrophy Cooperative Research Centers. In May 2002, NIAMS, NINDS, and NICHD brought together a Muscular Dystrophy Research Task Force to identify ways to increase the level of understanding of muscular dystrophies and improve diagnosis and treatment approaches….Among other suggestions, the Task Force recommended support for research centers to promote the exchange of ideas and information between basic and clinical investigators. Such centers should have a broad approach…and plans to move new knowledge to a clinical setting….The close interaction between basic researchers and clinicians will accelerate the translation of fundamental advances to the clinic and the utilization of patient materials for basic research (RFA-AR-03-002).

Cooperative Centers for Translational Research on Human Immunology and Biodefense. This program is expected to substantially support the biodefense effort by providing stable funding for immunology Centers focused on the translation from animal to human research (RFA-AI-02-042).

Centers of Excellence in Cancer Communications Research. 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…there should be a focus on translatability—from basic to intervention research to dissemination and sometimes back again (RFA-CA-01-019).

• Complement existing and stimulate new investigator-initiated applications for research project grants.

Network for Translational Research: Optical Imaging. Developments that successfully translate to clinically feasible or research-oriented instruments and methods are expected to stimulate investigator-initiated applications for clinical and basic research grants under other support mechanisms, such as the R01, R21, R21/R33, R33, R41, R42, R43, and R44 (RFA-CA-03-002).

Muscular Dystrophy Cooperative Research Centers (MDCRCs). It is desirable for MDCRC-supported research to complement other funded research related to muscular dystrophy taking place at the applicant institution, including activities supported by R01, P01, and other mechanisms. It is anticipated that resources and projects that are in place with funding from sources other than the MDCRC Program will synergistically interact with MDCRC infrastructure, cores, and projects. The application should explain how MDCRC support would facilitate the development and progress of related projects that may not be an integral component of the MDCRC itself (RFA-AR-03-002).

• Cross-disciplinary or translational research training of graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, and other health professionals.

Centers of Excellence in Complex Biomedical Systems Research. One reason for the current lack of adequately qualified personnel is that there are too few appropriate environments available to support this kind of training. The establishment of Centers under this program is intended to help alleviate this shortage by serving as an academic focus for systems approaches. To maximize their impact, Centers should integrate the training of young investigators and broaden the training of established investigators. Graduate students and postdoctoral fellows should participate in the research (RFA-GM-01-001).

Transdisciplinary Prevention Research Centers (TPRCs). Because it is intended that the these prevention research centers will provide ideal settings for training future generations of drug abuse prevention researchers in transdisciplinary sciences and translational perspectives, TPRC applications must have strong career development objectives (RFA-DA-02-005).

Muscular Dystrophy Cooperative Research Centers. Further, the [center] environment should promote cross-disciplinary research training (RFA-AR-03-002).

Cooperative Reproductive Science Research Centers at Minority Institutions. It is envisioned that each center will ultimately become a training and mentoring resource for developing and strengthening the research capacity of the nation by expanding opportunities for minority scientists, particularly those underrepresented within the scientific workforce (RFA-HD-00-019).

• Attraction of experienced researchers into a new area of research.

Centers of Excellence in Complex Biomedical Systems Research. In addition to research contributions, successful Centers will provide their home institutions with the means to implement organizational and professional changes that will make interdisciplinary research in complex biological systems and bioinformatics attractive career options for both established and entry-level investigators (RFA-GM-01-001).

Comprehensive Centers on Health Disparities at RCMI-Eligible Institutions. Support will be provided to recruit established clinical researchers with an active research laboratory and independent research support. They will serve as mentors to junior researchers in basic or clinical research. These new faculty will receive support to establish their research laboratories, acquire specialized equipment, and hire postdoctoral fellows and technical assistants. It is anticipated that they will serve as magnet investigators for the recruitment of other research faculty who will complement the thematic focus of the application (RFA-RR-03-004).

Centers of Excellence in Chemical Methodologies and Library Development (CMLD). … it is evident that reliance on current techniques for producing and evaluating chemical libraries will limit the ability to capitalize on the plethora of new targets that will become evident through research in proteomics and functional genomics. The goal of the CMLD initiative is to address these limitations by attracting the best academic chemists to the development of a wide range of versatile, dependable library-related methodologies (RFA-GM-01-006).

Network for Translational Research: Optical Imaging. Involvement of basic and clinical scientists who may not have a specific research record in cancer research, but who have the potential to provide experience crucial for the success of this network are considered important (RFA-CA-03-002).

Autism Research Centers of Excellence: The STAART Program. It is also anticipated that STAART Centers will attract outstanding investigators who have not have been part of the autism field (RFA-MH-02-001).

• Existence of a network of coordinated research activities with greater capacity than any single center, for example, in recruiting larger numbers of patients into common research protocols, pooling patient data and biological specimens on the scale necessary to identify biomarkers for disease risk, disease activity and severity, and clinical outcome, and improving methods and technologies.

Rare Disease Clinical Research Network. The purpose of this cooperative research network is to facilitate clinical research in rare diseases through support for (1) collaborative clinical research in rare diseases, including longitudinal studies of individuals with rare diseases, clinical studies, phase one and two trials, and/or pilot and demonstration projects…. (RFA-RR-03-008)

Network for Translational Research: Optical Imaging. The goal of this Request for Applications is to organize a consortium with flexibility in scope, funding, and incentives to encourage inter- and intrateam collaborations on translational cancer research … by developing a consensus process to improve methods for system integration, optimization and validation of next-generation in vivo optical imaging and/or spectroscopy methods and technologies, including contrast agents (RFA-CA-03-002).

Cooperative Centers for Translational Research on Human Immunology and Biodefense. Synergistic interaction is a key feature of this program. Each Center will provide unique and complementary strengths in terms of technical potential and specific areas of immunological investigation, and all Centers will share responsibility for program development and resource coordination via a Centers Steering Committee (RFA-AI-02-042).

Autoimmunity Centers of Excellence. Because all these diseases will be increasingly approached with immunologic interventions, a cooperative group with the capability to evaluate a new agent in any of a number of diseases offers considerable advantages. Increased interaction of clinical specialists in planning, performance, and evaluation of trials/studies should lead to a more coordinated approach to development of new immune-based therapies for all autoimmune diseases (RFA-AI-98-010).

Autism Research Centers of Excellence: The STAART Program. In addition to these issues that are focused on individual centers, a major goal of the STAART Centers Program is to establish a major research network that, as a whole, will be capable of implementing large treatment, diagnostic, genetic, neuroscientific and other studies, which are not currently feasible (RFA-MH-02-001).

3. The center program would provide critical research resources needed for productive research that are difficult or too expensive to develop in most individual laboratories.

Neuroproteomics Research Centers. Current technology requires a significant financial and educational investment to obtain, manage and interpret high-quality data. Thus, it is not feasible or practical for individual investigators to establish such a resource for use by their laboratory alone (RFA-DA-04-004).

Research Core Centers for Advanced Neuroinformatics Research. This Research Core Center PA is an institutional award…to support centralized resources and facilities shared by two or more investigators with existing funded research projects. Its goal is to encourage integrative, collaborative, interdisciplinary research approaches to more effectively and efficiently solve significant questions in basic and clinical neuroscience, that cross institutional and disciplinary boundaries (PAR-03-037).

Exploratory Center Grants for Human Embryonic Stem Cell Research. Exploratory Center Grants will be expected to: 1) establish and support institutional core facilities that can be used for the growth and maintenance of HESC, for the further characterization of HESC properties, and for development of reagents and tools that will enhance the use of HESC as a model system…. (RFA-HL-03-003)

4. Development of research infrastructure.

  • Institutional development of a field of research (nursing, population research)
  • State-of-the-art biomedical and behavioral research at minority-serving institutions or institutions in regions with little NIH research funding
  • Community education and outreach

Excellence in Partnerships for Community Outreach, Research on Disparities in Health, and Training (Project EXPORT). These center grants will provide a mechanism to strengthen the infrastructure for minority health and other health disparities research and training as well as provide resources for the development of innovative partnership models (RFA-MD-03-002).

Comprehensive Centers on Health Disparities at RCMI-Eligible Institutions. In the long range, it is anticipated that this program will facilitate the development of the institution's clinical research capacity.… This RFA is one way that the NIH identifies and supports biomedical and clinical researchers at eligible institutions to conduct and report the meritorious research that will foster successful competition for traditional research project grants (e.g., R-series and P-series) (RFA-RR-03-004).

Centers of Excellence for Research on Complementary and Alternative Medicine (CAM). Currently the Centers Program consists of three individual activities, each designed to meet a different need.…The Developmental Centers for Research on Complementary and Alternative Medicine are intended to promote development of CAM research expertise and infrastructure, support enhanced communication and partnership-building between CAM and conventional institutions/investigators and to support developmental research projects. The International Centers for Research on CAM are designed to establish partnerships and cross-cultural exchange through which foreign and U.S. institutions and investigators can collaborate to design and implement research on CAM/traditional indigenous medical systems or components thereof in the cultures and/or environments in which they originated. The Centers of Excellence for Research on CAM, described in this announcement, are designed to provide a vehicle for highly skilled and accomplished researchers to apply their expertise in addressing CAM research questions, with an emphasis on elucidating the mechanisms of action of CAM therapies and approaches (PAS-03-038).

Regional Centers of Excellence for Biodefense and Emerging Infectious Diseases Research. The overall goal of the RCE Program is to develop and maintain strong infrastructure and multifaceted research and development activities that will provide the scientific information and translational research capacity to make the next generation of therapeutics, vaccines and diagnostics against the CDC Category A-C Agents, with particular emphasis on Category A (RFA-AI-02-031).

Cooperative Reproductive Science Research Centers at Minority Institutions. The low level of involvement of minority institutions in reproductive science and the lack of sufficient training opportunities for minority scientists represent two major obstacles to developing an effective research effort aimed at addressing significant health disparities. This initiative will support the development of an enhanced research infrastructure in reproductive science at these institutions. Creating collaborations among minority institutions and other ongoing NICHD reproductive science research programs would integrate and take advantage of their respective expertise and experience (RFA-HD-00-019).


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  2. NRC (National Research Council) From Monsoons to Microbes: Understanding the Ocean's Role in Human Health. Washington, DC: National Academy Press; 1999. [PubMed: 25101424]
  3. NSF (National Science Foundation) Environmental Science and Engineering for the 21st Century: The Role of the National Science Foundation. 2000a. [accessed December 15, 2003]. NSB 00-22. [Online]. Available at: http://www​.nsf.gov/pubs​/2000/nsb0022/start.htm.
  4. NSF. Geosciences Beyond 2000: Understanding and Predicting Earth's Environment and Habitability. 2000b. [accessed December 15, 2003]. [Online]. Available: http://www​.geo.nsf.gov​/adgeo/geo2000/geo_2000_full_report​.htm.