NIH/NIA – High-Priority Behavioral and Social Research Networks in Alzheimer’s Disease and Alzheimer’s Disease Related Dementias (R24 Clinical Trial Not Allowed)

June 22, 2018 by School of Medicine Webmaster

This FOA invites applications to provide infrastructure support for advancing development of specific high-priority areas of behavioral and social research of relevance to Alzheimer’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease related dementias (AD/ADRD). The infrastructure support will facilitate research networks through meetings, conferences, small-scale pilots, short-term educational opportunities (such as intensive workshops, summer institutes, or visiting scholar programs), and dissemination to encourage growth and development of specified priority areas and build resources for advancing aging-relevant research in the field at large. Network applications are limited to the following areas: (1) AD/ADRD care and services research, and (2) the coordination of international studies conducting the Harmonized Cognitive Assessment Protocol (HCAP).

1. AD/ADRD Care and Services Research Network:

The Network would expand upon recommendations put forth during the October 2017 National Research Summit on Care, Services, and Supports for Persons with Dementia and Their Caregivers. The Network would focus on research to improve health care services and delivery and well-being for persons with dementia (PWD) and their informal and formal caregivers, within health care systems and beyond. The Network would be comprised of a standing group that would regularly assist NIA in advancing our dementia care research agenda.

Informed by the 2017 National Research Summit, research areas and activities of interest (e.g., meetings) include but are not limited to:

  • Impact of health care systems and long-term supports and services (LTSS) on outcomes for persons with dementia and their care providers; this includes how outcomes differ for people living alone.
  • Disparities in quality and access to dementia care. Examples include the mechanisms and risk factors that explain disparities in service access and quality for persons with dementia and their caregivers, as well as and how institutional and social contexts influence disparities in service access and quality.
  • Effectiveness of models and programs of non-residential and residential care for PWD, including home modifications and Dementia Friendly Communities in the U.S. and outside the U.S.
  • Causes and consequences of labor market availability and shortage of skilled individuals in the caregiving workforce; this includes factors that lead to effective workforce development and reduce precarious employment.
  • Impact of dementia diagnosis on individuals, caregivers, and families, to include individual responses and/or social impacts.
  • Health, financial, and social outcomes of the caregiver following the cessation of their caregiving role.
  • Development of methods for measuring person-centered outcomes, to include outcomes that matter to PWD (persons with dementia) and caregivers, including self-report measures across the disease severity spectrum and across care settings.

2. AD/ADRD Data Harmonization:

NIA supports a broad range of population studies to address questions related to the prevalence, predictors, outcomes and future trends in cognitive aging and AD/ADRD in the U.S. and internationally. NIA goals include providing the research community with comparable estimates of AD/ADRD and supporting epidemiological analysis of the etiology and impact of cognitive decline and AD/ADRD. To this end, the Network would support 1) harmonization of cognitive function and AD/ADRD protocols and different diagnostic algorithms across existing studies; 2) small-scale pilots on survey content or methodology; 3) coordination and enhancement of existing studies that implement harmonized dementia assessment protocols; 4) development of new studies that implement harmonized dementia protocols; 5) dissemination of data resources to the research community; and 6) development of a research agenda for cross-national comparative research.

NIA currently funds an R24 network for harmonizing the HRS family of studies involving 30+ countries across five continents that have designed surveys to be comparable with the HRS, many of which are not supported by NIH funding. To encourage harmonization and innovation, they actively participate in the current HRS Harmonization Network. For study descriptions of most of these, see “Gateway to Global Aging” at /surveys at a glance.

NIA now funds dementia assessment in the U.S. HRS plus six international HRS-family studies: ELSA (England), SHARE (Europe), LASI (India), MHAS (Mexico), HAALSI (Agincourt, South Africa) and CHARLS (China). The so-called Harmonized Cognitive Assessment Protocol – HCAP – provides the research community with new and rich data to study the prevalence, predictors, outcomes and future trends in cognitive functioning and dementia by producing comparable national estimates of the prevalence of dementia and supporting joint epidemiological analysis of the etiology and impact of cognitive decline.

Given that NIA is now funding the HCAP studies there is a need to fund a Network to focus on harmonization across the seven (plus) studies conducting the HCAP protocol.


The National Institute on Aging, Division of Behavioral and Social Research (BSR) supports basic social and behavioral research and research training on the processes of aging at both the individual and societal level. A summary of BSR research objectives is available on the NIA website and in the summary of the 2013 National Advisory Council on Aging Review of the BSR program. Though a significant fraction of research supported by BSR in pursuit of the NIA mission falls within a specific discipline or field, BSR encourages transdisciplinary approaches to behavioral and social research. BSR also supports data resources to support analyses that span disciplines.

BSR supports a range of initiatives to seed integrative and transdisciplinary research that exploits new methodologies and knowledge as well as infrastructure development in emerging and high priority areas of behavioral and social science related to aging. These areas are typically developing rapidly and require ongoing flexible dynamic infrastructure support to advance the production of high quality research and facilitate collaborations between scientists whose diverse areas of expertise are essential for actualizing innovative research in the field. They also require training new investigators and recruiting the best scientists to aging research to ensure continued growth in these fields.

Background information on currently supported BSR networks can be found here.

Reports and publications from many of the scientific workshops that have informed the selection of priority emerging areas can be found here.

Frequently asked questions about this FOA are addressed here.


This FOA is designed to address the network development needs of researchers interested in advancing transdisciplinary AD/ADRD-relevant research agendas in the social and behavioral sciences. The goal is to produce resources that will serve the field at large. Applications must propose efforts to advance one of the above-listed high priority aging-relevant research areas in the behavioral and social sciences. Applications should prepare plans for new high impact activities that are not feasible with existing resources.  For the purposes of this FOA, AD/ADRD-relevant research is that which addresses issues of importance to the well-being and health of either mid-life or older adults and can include data spanning the entire life course. Applicants need not have a prior history of conducting research in aging.

Network support includes all activities designed to bring together leading scientists across disciplines and institutions to develop an emerging priority area. This program is intended to be flexible and support the creation of innovative networks that will propose activities and bring unique resources necessary to advance a set of well-articulated research goals. The application should be designed to have a substantial impact on the progress and quality of behavioral and social research of relevance to aging by virtue of the proposed activities. Networks are intended to serve the broader community of behavioral and social researchers engaged in aging-relevant research in the designated scientific area and are consequently unlikely to be limited to a single institution. Applications should propose activities designed to advance a field to the point of no longer requiring network support to sustain growth. Applicants should articulate criteria for assessing this progress.

Examples of network support activities include, but are not limited to:

  • Meetings, both large and small, to develop novel research areas and interact on the development of infrastructure.
  • Small-scale pilots to obtain data, theoretical frameworks, empirical methods, or support the development of novel or high-risk approaches requiring interdisciplinary collaboration.
  • Dissemination and outreach activities to draw researchers from relevant disciplines into the field.
  • Educational activities such as intensive summer institutes, series of workshops and related network activities, advanced seminars on methodology, or short-term residential opportunities.

The networking, education, and infrastructure-building activities required for these efforts are rarely covered under an individual grant, and often do not fit the timelines for typical support mechanisms. In many instances the researchers that can support a successful network in an emerging area span multiple disciplines and are rarely located at a single institution. Therefore, this FOA is designed to provide research resources that create opportunities to shape the direction of an emerging field by addressing the network and infrastructure development needs required.

A goal of Network projects is to disseminate network resources to the field at large. These resources can include (but are not limited to) meeting papers/summaries; scientific publications; web resources; tools or guides to support research or data enhancement; data sets ranging from public-access “user-friendly” research data to meta-data, macro data or other aggregations of data to support research; and harmonized versions of existing data or instruments.

Networks may propose to support small-scale pilot projects. Network funding for pilot projects should either advance broad network goals or support preliminary studies with potential to form the basis for independent research applications consistent with network goals. Projects proposing small-scale pilot programs must propose how pilot projects will be solicited and reviewed in the Approach section of the Research Plan.

NOTE: Applicants are strongly encouraged to limit the number of key personnel on Network applications, to avoid establishing conflicts of interest throughout the emerging field. Participation in network activities, including presentation at workshops, or serving as faculty on summer institutes, or receiving pilot funding, will not constitute formal collaboration from the perspective of NIH, with the exception of those key personnel listed on the application. Network activities are intended to advance the field at large. An important consideration in developing a network is the potential to grow the field substantially through recruitment of new investigators rather than sustaining only the original team.

For network activities that span multiple institutions, applicants are encouraged to propose how those activities will be coordinated across institutions, and how the proposed activities will effectively engage with other relevant activities at participating institutions. Projects must propose a plan for dissemination of network products to the field at large.

The NIA encourages potential applicants to contact Scientific/Research staff listed in Section VII to discuss potential network development programs prior to submission of an application. The NIA encourages network applicants to support activities that will foster diversity of the scientific workforce.

Deadline:  January 1, 2019 (letters of intent); February 1, 2019 (full proposals)


Filed Under: Funding Opportunities