Notice of Intent to Publish a Funding Opportunity Announcement for "Research Planning Infrastructure to Develop Therapeutic Target-ID Strategies Based on Favorable Genetic Variants of Human Longevity or Health Span (U24)"

Notice Number: NOT-AG-14-020

Key Dates
Release Date: July 10, 2014

Estimated Publication Date of Announcement: August 2014
First Estimated Application Due Date: November 2014 
Earliest Estimated Award Date: June 2015 
Earliest Estimated Start Date: July 2015

Related Announcements
RFA-AG-14-003

Issued by
National Institute on Aging (NIA)

Purpose

The National Institute on Aging (NIA) intends to issue a Funding Opportunity Announcement (FOA) to solicit cooperative agreement applications (U24) for the development of research-planning infrastructure by multidisciplinary collaborative teams to develop target-identification (ID) strategies for translation of potential therapeutic target(s) based on genetic factors reliably associated with increased human lifespan and/or health span. The phrase "target-ID strategy" refers to a concerted set of applied research approaches (e.g., additional analyses, the required types of and sequence of studies/experiments and methodologies) leading to the identification of genetic factors, pathways or molecules by which activities could be favorably modified.

This Notice is being provided to allow potential applicants sufficient time to assemble a multidisciplinary team, possible approaches for developing research planning infrastructure, meaningful collaborations, and responsive projects.

The FOA is expected to be published in August 2014 with an expected application due date in November 2014.

NIA expects to make one award from the applications submitted in response to this FOA.

This FOA will utilize the U24 activity code. Details of the planned FOA are provided below.

Research Initiative Details

Extant research has identified both human-genetic variants and variants associated with protection against age-related chronic diseases that favorably influence both longevity and risk of age. Additional evaluation of relations of specific lifespan and health-span related variants to a variety of other phenotypes would be helpful in the identification of biological pathways that may be associated with the variant for identifying novel therapeutic targets associated with human longevity or health-span. Effective, coordinated use of approaches in target-ID strategies based on genetic findings related to human longevity requires collaboration among several diverse research fields that historically have rarely interacted. To date, no such team or collaboration exists to develop target-ID strategies based on human longevity-related genomic findings.

The anticipated FOA will request applications for a team that will conduct the planning activities (described in the following section) necessary for the development of target-ID strategies. The U24 research-planning infrastructure is expected to be multidisciplinary and collaborative in nature with sufficient breadth of scientific expertise, staff-time commitment, organizational structure, and operational procedures for leveraging relevant cohort-genetic data and performing integrated analyses in the selection and design of the most promising target-ID and translation strategies. Core areas of expertise which should be represented in the U24 multidisciplinary team include genetics, genomics, epidemiology, research on aging, translational genomics, drug development, statistics, and bioinformatics.

The U24 project should conduct the following activities:

1. Create an integrated database system of relevant data, informatics, and computational tools for assessing effects of gene variants for analyses to identify or clarify relations of genetic variants to increased human longevity and health span and functional effects of these variants;

2. For variants with strong evidence of a relation to exceptional human longevity or health span, proposed research should evaluate their potential utility as a basis for developing therapeutic target-ID strategies through analyses using the system of databases and informatics/computational tools described above and de novo pilot studies.

3. Based on evaluations as described in the second (above) activity, applications should develop a strategic plan for experiments and analyses aimed at the identification of one or more therapeutic target(s) for interventions with the potential to extend life span or health span.

4. Establish a publically-available research resource that provides access to, and documentation for, the computational and informatics tools used and developed in this project, with linkages to publically-available databases for which they have been used.

Although conduct of small pilot de novo studies to clarify prospects for potential strategies (e.g., to explore functional pathways associated with potential targets or effects of existing drugs affecting such pathways) may be included in the U24 activities, implementation of the target-ID strategies to be developed, beyond pilot studies or exploratory data analyses, is outside the scope of this FOA.  Support for such studies could be requested in the future through other grant mechanisms.

New population or family studies on genetic factors influencing longevity are also outside the scope of this FOA.

APPLICATIONS ARE NOT BEING SOLICITED AT THIS TIME.

Inquiries

Please direct all inquiries to:

Nalini Raghavachari, Ph.D.
National Institute on Aging (NIA)
Email: Nalini.raghavachari@nih.gov
Telephone: 301-435-3048

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