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Frequently Asked Questions for RFA-AG-24-022

The frequently asked questions below are related to RFA-AG-24-022: Quantifying the Impact of Environmental Toxicants on Alzheimer’s Disease and Related Dementias Risk in Cohort Studies (U01 Clinical Trial Not Allowed).

Q: What is the purpose of the Funding Opportunity Announcement?

A: This Notice of Funding Opportunity (NOFO) invites applications that propose research focused on major toxicants observed to be associated with elevated Alzheimer's Disease (AD) and AD-related dementias (ADRD) risk, and health disparities in AD/ADRD-related pathologic and clinical outcomes. This NOFO aims to do the following:

  • Enrich existing longitudinal cohorts with measures of exposures to individual toxicants or combinations of toxicants and/or multi-omics molecular profiling that reflects the body’s response to exposure(s).
  • Support the development of multi-disciplinary teams needed for the rigorous measurement and assessment of environmental exposures at the population level. 
  • Create an environmental epidemiology consortium to facilitate rapid and broad data sharing, harmonization, and integration of complex exposure data across multiple studies to enhance the opportunity for data pooling and data integration for various meta-analyses and/or comparative analyses.

Q: What are the Companion Funding Opportunities?

A: This NOFO, in conjunction with its two companion NOFOs: RFA-AG-24-021 and RFA-AG-24-023, aims to establish a “Precision Environmental Health in AD/ADRD Tri-consortium” and lay the foundation for a precision environmental health approach to AD/ADRD risk reduction and disease prevention.

This initiative will operate under open-science principles: all data and analytical outputs will be shared rapidly and broadly via the NIA-supported AD Knowledge Portal. Investigators under the three companion NOFOs must participate in an annual Program Director/Principal Investigator (PD/PI) meeting. The annual meeting will provide a forum for investigators to discuss research updates, identify opportunities for synergy and collaboration across projects (e.g., data harmonization, protocol optimization), and identify pertinent research challenges and solutions.

Applicants should include funds to support travel to the meeting in their yearly budget.

Q: What is the U01 activity code?

A: Cooperative Agreement: A support mechanism used when there will be substantial Federal scientific or programmatic involvement. Substantial involvement means that, after award, NIH scientific or program staff will assist, guide, coordinate, or participate in project activities.

Q: When are the applications due?

A: There is a single receipt date for this NOFO: October 23, 2023.  No late applications will be accepted.  In general, investigators should try to submit their applications a few days prior to the deadline so that you can make changes if needed.

Q: What is the maximum budget and how many projects will be funded?

A: NIA intends to commit $11 million in fiscal year 2024 to fund 4 - 5 awards.  Application budgets are limited to $1.5 M in direct costs per year over 5 years. Application budgets need to reflect the actual needs of the proposed project.

Q: What are some examples of research areas of interest? 

A: This NOFO promotes collaborative research to support the addition of environmental exposure measures to well-phenotyped, longitudinal AD/ADRD cohorts, as well as the addition of AD outcome/biomarker measurements to non-AD/ADRD cohorts for which exposure data is already available. 

Research on minority or health disparate populations and other special populations (e.g., race/ethnic minorities, rural, veterans, first responders, etc.) is highly encouraged given that these populations suffer from a higher burden of adverse environmental exposures. Studies should also investigate differences in response to toxicants by sex if possible.

Environmental exposures of interest are environmental toxicants observed to be associated with AD/ADRD, including, but not limited to, the following:

  • Air pollution 
  • Polyaromatic hydrocarbons 
  • PFASs
  • Poly-halogenated or organo-phosphate flame retardants
  • Metabolites of organophosphate insecticides and pesticides or phthalates
  • Environmental phenols and parabens
  • Toxic metals and other trace elements
  • Industrial and commercial chemicals
  • Antimicrobials, and/or other well-characterized or emerging toxicants

Research questions of interest may include, but are not limited to, the following:

  • What persistent environmental toxicants in the environment affect risk for mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and/or AD/ADRD?
  • What are the classes of environmental toxicant exposures associated with higher risk for MCI and/or AD/ADRD?
  • How does the timing of environmental toxicant exposures or chronic low doses of exposures affect the development of MCI and/or AD/ADRD?
  • How do environmental toxicant exposures affect biological or molecular markers associated with increased risk for MCI and/or AD/ADRD?

Q: Which applications are considered non-responsive to this FOA?

A: The following types of applications will be considered non-responsive and will be withdrawn prior to review:

  • Applications that include non-human animals.
  • Applications that are focused on the measurement of other environmental exposures, such as psycho-social stress, micronutrients, or other lifestyle-related factors.
  • Applications that focus on built neighborhood or green space.
  • Applications that measure environmental samples, such as soil, dust, water, filters from air monitors, etc.

Please note that non-responsive applications will be withdrawn prior to review.

Q: What are additional resources I can reference while developing my application?

A: Some relevant resources that you can reference are:

Environmental Resources Supported by NIEHS

Health Disparities Resources

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