National Institutes of Health [NIH]1), in which two scientists from the same or neighboring institutions jointly apply for career development awards that specify continued collaboration over the life of the award. Similarly, there might be senior KK awards that are career awards for collaborative leadership.

Flexibility in the use of K awards for academic faculty could also stimulate interdisciplinary training and development. For example, the award might provide summer salary rather than a percentage of the academic year salary, or a research costs category for a faculty member. This type of customization to fit the needs of academic faculty would be parallel in intent to customizing physician-scientist K awards to meet the structure of the career paths of physician-scientists.

We encourage interdisciplinary center grants designed to facilitate collaboration. These grants could be modeled, for example, on the R24 infrastructure grants given by the Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research and other NIH entities to support research in mind-body medicine2 or on the grants for transdisciplinary centers given by the National Institute on Drug Abuse, in which the first phase of the award provides funds for meeting and talking in order to generate new ideas. Center grants could also require setting aside funds for a certain number of cross-disciplinary pilot projects to be funded within the center.

In addition, small grants could be given for holding technical assistance workshops or other training events that would teach about one discipline and would take place the day before the professional meeting of another discipline. Another possibility for NIA is to give grants to develop and hold short courses (e.g., 1 or 2 weeks) on methodology. There are several models for successful short courses on technical topics. NIA support of the costs of developing and offering such courses could substantially promote dissemination of new ideas and methodological developments across fields.

We suggest consideration by NIH of encouraging nonprofit organizations or even universities to apply for NIA funding to administer a small

1  

K02 awards allow early to mid-career investigators—who have received prior funding—to develop skills and collaborations to become leaders in their research fields; K07 awards allow senior investigators to develop an area of aging research at a university or other research institution. There are also many other types of K awards. See http://grants2.nih.gov/training/careerdevelopmentawards.htm (accessed December 2005).

2  

A central goal of this program is to facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation in mind-body and health research while providing essential and cost-effective core services in support of the development, conduct, and translation into practice of mind-body and health research based in centers or comparable administrative units. See http://obssr.od.nih.gov/RFA_PAs/MindBody/MBFY04/Start.htm#infrastructure%20initiatives (accessed December 2005).



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