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Pre-Application Information for RFA-AG-20-016 and RFA-AG-20-017: Lucidity in Dementia

RFA-AG-20-016 (R21) and RFA-AG-20-017 (R21/R33) are open with a receipt date of February 3, 2020.

Pre-Application Webinar

A pre-application webinar was held on June 20, 2019 to provide an overview of the funding opportunity announcements, highlight important scientific and technical aspects, and answer participants’ questions about applying. View an archived version of the webinar here. Or, you can download the slides used in the webinar presentation (PDF, 632K).

Additional Resources

A variety of resources are available to support studies of lucidity in dementia. The following non-exhaustive list of resources may be useful:


NIA sponsored a workshop in June 2018 to discuss the state of knowledge about lucidity in dementia and identify important research questions. An article based on this workshop, along with a perspective from NIA, are published in the August 2019 issue of Alzheimer’s & Dementia.

Studies and cohorts

Research Centers and Networks

Frequently Asked Questions

Please check this site periodically, as additional questions and answers may be posted.

Should applications focus only on Alzheimer’s dementia?

Not necessarily. We want to understand lucid episodes across a variety of dementia subtypes including Alzheimer’s, vascular, Lewy body, and frontotemporal dementias.

In addition, anecdotal evidence suggests that unexpected lucidity may occur in individuals without dementia but who have other neurological or psychiatric conditions. Inclusion of such populations is permissible for comparison as long as dementia remains a major focus of the application.

Should applications focus only on late-stage dementia?

The main purpose of these RFAs is to understand lucid episodes in individuals with dementia when such episodes occur unexpectedly. Thus, late-stage dementia should be the main focus of applications. However, earlier stages of dementia may also be included for comparison to investigate the breadth of fluctuating lucidity.

Are animal studies to explore potential mechanisms within the scope of these RFAs?

Probably not. These RFAs are intended to support an initial set of studies focusing on lucidity in humans with dementia. If successful, such studies could pave the way for subsequent mechanistic studies in animal models in the future.

If you are unsure about the suitability of a potential project, please contact us.

How should I decide whether to apply for an R21 or an R21/R33?

The R21/R33 mechanism is used to allow for a timely transition from the exploratory/development phase of the project to an expanded or implementation phase. For example, the R21 phase may be used to conduct qualitative or mixed-methods studies leading to development of a preliminary lucidity assessment tool, which could then be refined further and validated in larger populations during the R33 phase. Similarly, the R21 phase may be used to develop procedures for audio/video recording and analysis of individuals with dementia, which could then be tested in larger populations across different settings to capture lucid episodes. These are, of course, just two examples of many different projects that could be proposed.

The R21 version would be appropriate when plans for an expanded or implementation phase are not clear at the time of application. As both R21 and R33 phases will be reviewed together and a single impact score will be given to the entire application, applicants who have a promising idea for an exploratory/developmental project but are uncertain about subsequent steps should consider applying for the R21 version.

I am thinking about applying for the R21/R33 version, but how should I write the R33 aims if I do not know what I will find in the R21 phase?

The aims of the R33 portion of the application should be based on an expectation that the aims of the R21 phase will be achieved. As noted in the RFA, achievement of the R21 aims should be reflected by specific milestones, and NIA program staff will determine whether the milestones have been achieved sufficiently to allow transition to the R33 phase.

What budget format should be used for an R21/R33 application?

A full budget format (i.e., not modular) should be used for both phases of an R21/R33 application.

The RFAs indicate that applicants should budget for travel to one or two grantee meetings in the R21 or R21/R33 versions, respectively. In which award year(s) should we budget for the meeting(s)?

We are planning for yearly grantee meetings, some of which will be in-person and others of which will be virtual. Applicants should budget for one in-person grantee meeting in the first year of the R21 award period and, if applicable, again in the first year of the R33 award period. The actual dates of the in-person meetings will be determined after awards are made. If an in-person grantee meeting occurs later in the award period, awardees can rebudget accordingly.

Can unspent funds from the R21 phase carry over into the R33 phase?

No, the R21 and R33 phases are two separate awards. All funds from the R21 should be spent down before the R33 phase begins.

As an R21/R33 awardee, what happens if I do not complete the R21 phase before the scheduled end of the award period?

Awardees are encouraged to complete each phase during its expected award period. In certain cases, delays may cause a project to extend beyond the award period. Remedies are often available in such cases, and awardees can work with program staff to resolve the issues.