This Funding Opportunity Announcement solicits grant applications to provide support for the maintenance of existing environmental epidemiology cohorts and their associated biorepositories; for the collection or development of additional measures; to facilitate follow-up of study participants especially during key windows of susceptibility, and to provide a structure to facilitate broader sharing of data and resources with the scientific community. The scope of the application must address a critical research need and strategic interest that aligns with the mission of the NIEHS. Investigators are encouraged to visit the NIEHS website for additional information about the mission and research priorities of the NIEHS http://www.niehs.nih.gov/about/strategicplan/.
The NIEHS has a considerable investment in supporting observational population studies in which groups of people with a set of characteristics or exposures are followed systematically over time to discern the relationships between environmental exposures and health outcomes during different life stages. These studies will be referred to as Environmental Epidemiology cohorts (EEC) and include cohort and case-control design. These studies have helped advance fundamental insights into key environmental, lifestyle, and genetic determinants of environmentally related health outcomes. NIEHS recognizes that EECs are a valuable resource that benefit the entire environmental health community.
The goal of this program is to provide stability to existing EECs by supporting the necessary infrastructure to retain trained field personnel essential to continue ongoing longitudinal data collection, to follow-up study participants, and to preserve the integrity and quality of specimen collection. By creating stable funding for EEC maintenance and to provide an opportunity for data preparation and a structure to facilitate and ensure data sharing, the research community will have greater freedom to pursue new and interesting research directions through other mechanisms.
Scope of the FOA
Each resource grant can focus on two categories of activities: (1) maintenance and resource infrastructure enrichment for existing EECs and (2) enrichment of EEC data management and sharing as appropriate and consistent with achieving the goals of the program. Examples of activities that can be supported under this FOA include, but are not limited to the following:
(1) Maintenance and resource infrastructure enrichment for existing EECs:
Cohort maintenance and related activities:
- Ongoing recruitment and retention of the target study population.
- Expansion of recruitment to enroll special populations to enhance the breadth of the science or power of the cohort.
- Re-consenting of participants for broad data sharing as appropriate and consistent with achieving the goals of the program.
- Continuation and enhancement of sample collection and management of existing biorepositories and environmental sample repositories.
- Continuation and enhancement of community engagement and outreach activities.
Enrichment of resource infrastructure within the cohort:
- Development and implementation of biospecimen collection, processing and preservation methods to enhance efficiency, yield, reproducibility and stability.
- Validation of exposure and or health outcome data to improve exposure disease classification. For example, assessing the comparability of self-reported data versus medical record or biomarker information, or the assessment of how well a biomarker measured through non-invasive means compares to gold standard or other target tissue or other standards. This also may include an opportunity to integrate or validate emerging exposure or exposure response technologies.
- Development and testing of new methods to improve/enhance exposure classification to short-lived chemicals, multiple chemicals, nonchemical stressors, cumulative exposures or exposure to mixtures. For example, repeated urinary sampling to improve assessment of short-lived compounds, testing other biological or questionnaire assessments to enhance measures of stress such as cortisol or teleomere length.
(2) Enrichment of EEC data management and sharing:
Development of infrastructure to support broad sharing of data, including activities related to making data findable, accessible, interoperable and reusable such as:
- Implementation of an improved quality assurance and quality control plan across the full data lifecycle, including the identification and handling of potentially erroneous or missing values.
- Enabling data discovery and integration through development and utilization of standard, unambiguous terminology. This includes creation or enhancement of data dictionaries and ontologies. The use of descriptive terms from existing biomedical ontologies (e.g. NCBO BioPortal, https://bioportal.bioontology.org) is highly encouraged.
- Development and application of methodologies to support interoperability of EEC data with other relevant data sets, including implementation of common data and metadata standards and evaluation of their utility to support data integration.
- Formatting and depositing individual-level de-identified data in an existing repository.
- Development and implementation of a searchable web-based platform for data sharing and integration.
- Linkage and integration of multiple data sets from different sources such as health records and environmental data sources.
- Development or implementation of techniques for data visualization and/or big data analytics.
Applicants are encouraged to bring in new expertise in areas including data architecture, database administration, information science, data science, and data engineering.
Deadlines: November 6, 2018; October 10, 2019; October 9, 2020 (letters of intent due 30 days before the deadline)
Filed Under: Funding Opportunities