NIH – Autism Centers of Excellence: Networks (R01 Clinical Trial Optional)

September 3, 2021 by


The Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) and partnering Institutes invite applications for the Autism Centers of Excellence: Networks Program, hereafter termed “ACE Networks”. Each ACE Network will consist of a multi-site project focusing on a specific topic of research for R01 support through this FOA. Each ACE Network will submit one R01 application that includes sub-awards to the collaborating sites. A companion FOA (RFA-HD-22-008) invites applications for ACE Centers supported by the P50 mechanism.


Autism spectrum disorders (ASD), characterized by difficulties with social communication and stereotypic and repetitive patterns of behaviors, are complex and highly heterogeneous neurodevelopmental disorders with early childhood onset. ASD remains an urgent public health challenge. Data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) indicate that from 2002 to 2016 the prevalence of ASD in eight-year-olds rose from 1 in 150 to 1 in 54. For the first time, the CDC released a prevalence estimate for ASD in adults aged 18 years and older in the United States at 2.21%. These disorders, for which there are presently only limited therapies, generally have lifelong effects.

The NIH historically has supported a vast array of projects in autism research. Beginning in 1997, the Collaborative Programs of Excellence in Autism (CPEA) focused on research related to the possible causes of autism, including genetic, immunological, and environmental factors. Both NICHD and NIDCD sponsored the CPEA program. After the establishment of the CPEA Centers program, Congress enacted the Children’s Health Act of 2000. This legislation mandated the establishment of a new autism research program. In response, the five Institutes of the NIH Autism Coordinating Committee (NIH-ACC; represented by NICHD, NIDCD, NIEHS, NIMH, and NINDS) implemented the STAART (Studies to Advance Autism Research and Treatment) program in 2002. Each of the eight STAART centers contributed to the autism research base in the areas of causes, diagnosis, early detection, prevention, and treatment. In 2007, consolidation of funding from the CPEA and STAART programs resulted in autism centers and networks collectively called the Autism Centers of Excellence or ACE program. The ACE program was renewed in 2012 and again in 2017. Now in its 13th year of funding, the ACE program continues to make significant progress in key areas of ASD research. Ongoing projects are examining, for example, how ADHD may affect the diagnosis and treatment of ASD, evaluating if early developmental screening lowers the average age of ASD diagnosis and leads to earlier interventions and improved outcomes, adopting community implementation strategies and innovative tools to bridge the research-to-practice gap in underserved communities, investigating how ASD differs among girls and boys, particularly during the transition from adolescence into adulthood, and developing interventions appropriate for different subtypes of children with ASD.

Key Dates:

Open Date (Earliest Submission Date): October 09, 2021
Letter of Intent Due Date(s): 30 days prior to the application due date of November 10.

URL for more information:


Filed Under: Funding Opportunities