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American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009

American Recovery and Reinvestment Act (ARRA) Logo

NIH Challenge Grants in Health and Science Research (RFA-OD-09-003)

National Eye Institute (NEI)

NIH has received new funds for Fiscal Years 2009 and 2010 as part of the American Recovery & Reinvestment Act of 2009 (Recovery Act), Pub. L. No. 111-5. The NIH has designated at least $200 million in FYs 2009 - 2010 for a new initiative called the NIH Challenge Grants in Health and Science Research.

This new program will support research on topic areas that address specific scientific and health research challenges in biomedical and behavioral research that would benefit from significant 2-year jumpstart funds.

The NIH has identified a range of Challenge Areas that focus on specific knowledge gaps, scientific opportunities, new technologies, data generation, or research methods that would benefit from an influx of funds to quickly advance the area in significant ways. Each NIH Institute, Center, and Office has selected specific Challenge Topics within the broad Challenge Areas related to its mission. The research in these Challenge Areas should have a high impact in biomedical or behavioral science and/or public health.

NIH anticipates funding 200 or more grants, each of up to $1 million in total costs, pending the number and quality of applications and availability of funds. In addition, Recovery Act funds allocated to NIH specifically for comparative effectiveness research (CER) may be available to support additional grants. Projects receiving these funds will need to meet this definition of CER: "a rigorous evaluation of the impact of different options that are available for treating a given medical condition for a particular set of patients. Such a study may compare similar treatments, such as competing drugs, or it may analyze very different approaches, such as surgery and drug therapy." Such research may include the development and use of clinical registries, clinical data networks, and other forms of electronic health data that can be used to generate or obtain outcomes data as they apply to CER.

The application due date is April 27, 2009.

See the full text of the NIH announcement

Broad Challenge Areas and Specific Challenge Topics

Note: Those marked with an asterisk (*) are the highest priority topics; however, applicants may apply to any of the topics.

For NEI, the Challenge Topics are:

(01) Behavior, Behavioral Change, and Prevention
For this RFA, there is no NEI-specific Challenge Topic in this Challenge Area.

(02) Bioethics
02-OD(OSP)-104* Ethical Issues in the Translation of Genetic Knowledge to Clinical Practice. Genetics and genomics have great promise for the development of personalized medicine, yet the ethical, legal and social implications of both the research and application of genetic and genomic knowledge and technology are far reaching. Studies are needed to better understand the factors that influence the translation of genetic information to improved human health and the associated ethical issues. Examples of studies include those to address ethical issues related to broad sharing and use of new genetic information and technologies for research to improve human health, human subjects protection in genetic and genomic research, the identifiability of genetic/genomic information and how our understanding of identifiability is evolving, return of research results and incidental findings to subjects, alternative models of informed consent for broad data sharing for research, and the impact of intellectual property (IP) issues on development of new technologies. OD(OSP) Contact: Abigail Rives, 301-594-1976, rivesa@od.nih.gov; NEI Contact: Dr. Grace Shen, 301-451-2020, sheng@mail.nih.gov

(03) Biomarker Discovery and Validation
03-EY-101* Role of immunity in identifying relevant markers in ocular diseases. Oxidative stress/injury and host immune response are postulated to be involved in many degenerative eye diseases such as age-related macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, uveitis, glaucoma, and keratoconus. Other disorders such as Sjogren's syndrome remain difficult to diagnose and treat. Characterizing the molecular events and the host immune response during disease progression, and the understanding of how genes and their products interplay between systemic inflammation, vascular disease and photoreceptor cell death will allow us to identify biomarkers for the diagnosis and treatment of these blinding diseases. Contact: Dr. Grace Shen, 301-451-2020, sheng@mail.nih.gov

(04) Clinical Research
For this RFA, there is no NEI-specific Challenge Topic in this Challenge Area.

(05) Comparative Effectiveness Research
05-EY-101* Treatment of Age Related Macular Degeneration and Diabetic Eye Diseases and Disorders. Age Related Macular Degeneration and Diabetic Eye Disease are leading causes of blindness among American adults. Commonly used treatment strategies include various combinations of drug and/or laser treatments but it is not clear how these agents or their combinations compare with each other for preventing visual loss, improving quality of life, and reducing health care costs. Projects that answer this challenge include studies that will compare agents to prevent the development and progression of age related macular degeneration or diabetic eye diseases and conditions. Contact: Dr. Don Everett, 301-451-2020, deverett@nei.nih.gov

05-EY-102* Treatment of Pediatric Eye Diseases and Disorders. There are a variety of eye diseases and disorders that lead to visual impairments and blindness among children. Eye Care Professionals can treat these disorders with certain medications, surgery, or optical instruments or devices. However, it is unclear how the strategies compare with each other for improving and maintaining vision, quality of life, and reducing health care costs. Projects that answer this challenge could include the planning and conducting of trials or analyses of existing data. Contact: Dr. Don Everett, 301-451-2020, deverett@nei.nih.gov

05-EY-103* Eye and Vision Systematic Reviews. There are a variety of eye diseases and disorders that lead to visual impairments and blindness. Eye Care Professionals are treating these disorders with certain medications, surgery, or optical instruments or devices. However, in many instances it is unclear how the strategies compare with each other for improving and maintaining vision, quality of life, and reducing health care costs. Projects that answer this challenge would help health care providers and patients make well-informed decisions about healthcare. Contact: Dr. Don Everett, 301-451-2020, deverett@nei.nih.gov

(06) Enabling Technologies
For this RFA, there is no NEI-specific Challenge Topic in this Challenge Area.

(07) Enhancing Clinical Trials
07-EY-101* Cost Effectiveness/Quality of Life: Tools to assess the impact of interventions on quality-of-life and cost effectiveness of ophthalmic treatments. Fostering interdisciplinary collaboration with specialties such as health outcomes, economics, genetics, statistics, and clinical and bench science is needed to develop and improve instruments that measure the effect of ophthalmic treatments on the patient's quality-of-life and cost-effectiveness. Such teams could be used develop tools to evaluate and influence patient adherence with effective treatments in order to improve outcomes. Contact: Dr. Natalie Kurinij, 301-451-2020,

(08) Genomics
08-EY-101* Genomics of complex eye diseases. Opportunities exist to make scientific inroads into complex, but common eye diseases such as cataract, diabetic retinopathy, macular degeneration and primary open angle glaucoma. One approach would be to use comprehensive genomic profiling of ocular cell types in normal and disease states by using high throughput expression analysis methods (e.g., sequencing and exon arrays, methylation sequencing) Contact: Dr. Hemin Chin, 301-451-2020, chinh@mail.nih.gov

(09) Health Disparities
For this RFA, there is no NEI-specific Challenge Topic in this Challenge Area.

(10) Information Technology for Processing Health Care Data for Research
For this RFA, there is no NEI-specific Challenge Topic in this Challenge Area.

(11) Regenerative Medicine
For this RFA, there is no NEI-specific Challenge Topic in this Challenge Area.

(12) Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM) Education
For this RFA, there is no NEI-specific Challenge Topic in this Challenge Area.

(13) Smart Biomaterials - Theranostics
For this RFA, there is no NEI-specific Challenge Topic in this Challenge Area.

(14) Stem Cells
14-EY-101* Development of stem cell treatment for degenerative diseases of the eye. The restorative properties of stem cells hold the promise in the treatment of degenerative eye diseases such as macular degeneration, diabetic retinopathy, retinitis pigmentosa and glaucoma, and diseases of the ocular surfaces. There is a need for the identification of biomarkers that can define stem cells and the end-stage cells, as well as reproducible protocols for the generation and purification of viable terminally differentiated cells. Contact: Dr. Grace Shen, 301-451-2020, sheng@mail.nih.gov

(15) Translational Science
15-EY-101* Protein misfolding in degenerative diseases of the eye. A number of ocular genetic diseases occur due to misfolding/aggregation of proteins, for example the visual pigment protein, rhodopsin in retinitis pigmentosa, crystallins in age-related cataracts, and myocillin in glaucoma. Identifying therapeutic pharmacological agents/drugs, that prevent the misfolding/aggregation of proteins could provide new tools for treating these diseases. Contact: Dr. Neeraj Agarwal, 301-451-2020, agarwalnee@mail.nih.gov

15-EY-102 Determining the structure of membrane proteins involved in phototransduction and the visual cycle to develop therapeutic agents and to understand the mechanisms of action. The paucity of knowledge of the small conformation changes of proteins involved in phototransduction and retinoid cycle during their activation cycles and formation of transient complexes is a limiting factor in the development of new therapeutic agents. Pharmacologically, the most important membrane proteins are those involved in signal transduction including G protein coupled receptors (GPCRs) of which rhodopsin is the prototypical type. As many as 40% of currently marketed drugs interact with GPCRs yet these target only about 50 GPCRs out of more than 800 encoded in the human genome and are not sufficiently selective for one particular receptor subtype resulting in possible adverse effects, drug interactions, and less than optimal dosing. Contact: Dr. Andrew Mariani, 301-451-2020, mariania@mail.nih.gov

For general information on NEI's implementation of NIH Challenge Grants, contact:

Dr. Grace L. Shen
Group Leader, Corneal Diseases and
Ocular Immunology, Inflammation, & Infection
Suite 1300
5635 Fishers Lane, MSC 9300
Bethesda, MD 20892-9300
(Courier services use: Rockville, MD 20852)
301-451-2020
sheng@mail.nih.gov

For Financial or Grants Management questions, contact:
Mr. William W. Darby
Chief, Grants Management Branch
Suite 1300
5635 Fishers Lane, MSC 9300
Bethesda, MD 20892-9300
(Courier services use: Rockville, MD 20852)
301-451-2020
darbyw@mail.nih.gov



Department of Health and Human Services NIH, the National Institutes of Health USA.gov