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NIH 1998 Almanac/The Organization/NCRR/      

National Center for Research Resources: Major Programs


Extramural

General Clinical Research Centers

A network of approximately 75 GCRCs, located primarily at U.S. academic medical centers across the country, offers NIH-supported investigators and other researchers specialized environments to safely and effectively conduct controlled inpatient and outpatient studies. Each GCRC offers a range of resources. A center is typically a discrete unit located within a medical center hospital. GCRC staff includes research nurses, dietitians, biostatisticians, technicians, and administrative personnel who are highly trained to provide a supportive environment for patients and to help investigators by facilitating the day-to-day research process. In most instances, a GCRC will have a core laboratory, metabolic and dietary resources, and a computerized database management and analysis system.

In l995, NIH established NGVLs at Indiana University, the University of Michigan, and the University of Pennsylvania to produce certain vectors needed by researchers to systematically advance the manipulation of human genes from basic research laboratories to clinical studies of research patients. The NGVLs currently provide retroviral, adenoviral, adenoassociated viral, and nonviral vectors.

Requests for vectors are submitted to Indiana University, which coordinates the application review process of an NGVL steering committee. Committee members often mentor applicants in an effort to enhance proposed protocols. Currently the NGVLs are funded by NCRR, NCI, NIDDK, NHLBI, NICHD, NIAMS, NIAID, the NIH Office of AIDS Research, and the NIH Office of Rare Diseases.

Regional Primate Research Centers

NCRR’s seven regional Primate Research Centers provide unique research resources for biomedical and behavioral research using nonhuman primates as experimental animal models. Initial awards were made for construction of physical facilities at all seven centers. Operating awards are made each year following review of each center’s proposed budget by NIH staff. The overall programs of each center also receive regular peer review from outside supporting agencies. Universities serve as host institutions for centers and provide academic environments of high standard for staff and visiting scientists.

Areas of emphasis include reproductive biology, infectious diseases, neurosciences, biobehavioral research, metabolic, nutritional and cardiovascular diseases, and environmental health and toxicology. Based on the availability of facilities and other resources, the centers maintain extensive collaborative programs for scientists from many institutions. Visiting scientist programs for investigators from the U.S. and abroad also are included within the centers.

Laboratory Animal Sciences

LAS activities support research animal resources and scientific training in the field of comparative medicine. Of particular interest is development of new and improved animal models of human disease. To assist institutions in their efforts to meet animal care guidelines established by the PHS and the requirements of the Animal Welfare Act, LAS supports projects to enhance the environmental conditions of laboratory animals and improve their health. The goal of training supported through LAS is to provide graduate veterinarians with the research skills and the motivation to develop careers in biomedical and health research.

AIDS Animal Models

The NCRR Chimpanzee Biomedical Research Resources, once the Chimpanzee Breeding and Research Program, was established in l986 to provide a stable supply of healthy chimpanzees for biomedical investigations related to AIDS and hepatitis and to perpetuate the chimpanzee population in the United States.

The Specific-Pathogen-Free (SPF) Rhesus Monkey Breeding and Research Program was established in 1988 to create self-sustaining rhesus breeding colonies free from contamination with certain simian retroviruses and herpes B virus, and to make SPF animals available for PHS-supported research projects related to AIDS.

BMMR focuses on extramural research activities that explore and develop nonmammalian models for biomedical investigations. Support for this research develops and broadens the utility of a variety of models, including cell systems, nonmammalian organisms, and nonbiological systems such as mathematical and computer systems. NCRR also supports resources that supply critical biological materials such as cultures or genetic stocks, and nonbiological materials such as on-line information on model organisms to the biomedical research community. Through these resources, investigators have access to stocks of widely used organisms ranging from yeast, mutant flies, and worms to fish and cephalopods.

A network of approximately 60 BT resource centers, located across the country primarily at major academic institutions, makes the newest and most advanced technologies and techniques accessible to the biomedical research community. These centers function as both technological and intellectual resources, with an infrastructure that permits staff scientists to react rapidly and effectively to emerging biomedical research needs. Principal investigators at these centers lead scientific teams to discover, create, develop, and disseminate technological innovations that have broad applications to studies of biology, medicine, behavior, and health. The multidisciplinary environment of each center stimulates innovation and collaborations among physical scientists, engineers, and biomedical scientists.

Shared instrumentation grants, awarded to institutions, provide groups of NIH-supported researchers a means to obtain commercially available, expensive, technologically sophisticated equipment. Shared use of these high-sensitivity and high-resolution instruments needed to understand fundamental biological processes optimizes this federal investment. The SIG mechanism provides between $100,000 and $400,000 for the purchase of such instruments. To obtain instruments that cost more than $500,000, applicant institutions may be eligible for joint funding arranged by agreement between NIH and the National Science Foundation.

Research Centers in Minority

Institutions

Begun in 1985, the Research Centers in Minority Institutions Program is a congressionally mandated initiative.

Through grant support, NCRR assists predominately minority academic institutions that award doctoral degrees in the health or health-related sciences to conduct biomedical and behavioral research in order to become more competitive in obtaining research funding. NCRR support, for example, may help an institution attract additional research faculty in health-science disciplines, provide necessary training in specialized analytical methods, upgrade facilities, purchase advanced scientific equipment, and, through its faculty, address research questions that are relevant to the health needs of all Americans, especially ethnic minorities.

This award encourages scientists to work with educators and other organizations to improve students’ (K-12) and the public’s understanding of the health sciences. The award supports development of a variety of model programs in biomedical and behavioral science education that make it feasible for scientists, educators, media, and community leaders to partner in order to promote science by increasing science literacy. Past models have included a national video education program, a traveling museum exhibit about AIDS, biotechnology research experiences for students and teachers, and health promoting outreach programs for inner-city and rural communities.

This NIH grant mechanism is a merit-based, peer-reviewed program initiated in response to congressional intent to broaden the geographical distribution of NIH grant funding for biomedical and behavioral research. This award supports various research activities that stimulate sustainable improvement in the biomedical research capacities of research institutions located in states with historically low success rates for obtaining NIH funding. Overall, the IDeA enhances an institution’s competitiveness and increases the probability of long-term growth of its investigators.

Through this grant mechanism, NCRR matches institutional funding to improve animal resources, including facility upgrades and the development of programs and policies related to laboratory animal care and use. Through the RFIP, NCRR also funds construction to expand, remodel, renovate, or alter existing extramural facilities used for biomedical and behavioral research and research training.

NCRR research resource directories are available to the extramural biomedical research community at no cost. These directories list resource centers supported by the NCRR Clinical Research, Biomedical Technology, and Comparative Medicine areas. Each directory listing provides a point of contact, the center’s research emphasis, and the resource capabilities available to outside investigators. Biomedical investigators interested in learning more about these resources may obtain directories by contacting the NCRR Office of Science Policy at: 301-435-0888; fax: 301-480-3558; E-mail: ospio@ncrr.nih.gov; or by accessing the NCRR home page: http://www.ncrr.nih.gov.


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