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NIOSH, Partners Announce Historic Investment for Grants in Priority Research Areas

NIOSH Update:

Contact: Fred Blosser (202) 260-8519
March 17, 1998

The National Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (NIOSH), in partnership with three other federal institutes, announced the largest single infusion of funding ever for occupational safety and health research. The $8 million investment will support grants for studies in areas of high priority under the National Occupational Research Agenda (NORA).

NIOSH and its three co-sponsors invited proposals for research grants in the areas of occupational irritant dermatitis; work-related musculoskeletal disorders, traumatic injuries, indoor environment, and asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease; nature and magnitude of special risk factors for older and/or minority workers; social and economic consequences of workplace injury and illness, and health services research; and research to evaluate existing or new interventions to protect workers from job-related musculoskeletal disorders, traumatic injuries, asthma and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and other occupational risks through changes in work organization, control technology, or other worker protection techniques.

These topics are among the 21 priority research areas highlighted in NORA. Developed by NIOSH with extensive input and outside review by more than 500 organizations and individuals, NORA provides a national blueprint for the research that will do the most to prevent and reduce job-related injuries, illnesses, and deaths over the coming decade.

Joining with NIOSH as co-sponsors for the NORA grants initiative are three institutes in the National Institutes of Health: the National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases (NIAMS), the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS), and the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI). In addition, the portion of the initiative dealing with older workers is of interest to the National Institute on Aging (NIA) in NIH. NIOSH is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Given that occupational diseases and injuries drain billions of dollars from the U.S. economy every year, research under NORA provides a fabulous opportunity to realize great benefits from modest investments,” said NIOSH Director Linda Rosenstock, M.D., M.P.H. “This historic announcement also offers new prospects for broadening the pool of talented researchers and research institutions whose partnership is critical to furthering worker health and safety.”

Congress provided NIOSH with $5 million in the institute’s appropriation for fiscal 1998 to support additional research specifically related to the NORA priority areas. NIOSH funding under the new request for applications will total $5 million, with specific amounts allotted for the individual research categories. The co-sponsoring institutes are matching NIOSH allotments for areas related to their individual missions.

Potential grant applicants are requested to submit by May 1, 1998, a letter expressing intent to apply for a research grant. Applications on Form PHS-398 then should be submitted by June 23, 1998.

The purpose of the grants program is to develop knowledge that can be used in preventing occupational injuries and illnesses, and to better understand their underlying causes and effects. As a result, NIOSH said, the initiative will support causal research to identify and investigate the relationships between hazardous working conditions and associated occupational disease and injury; the nature and magnitude of special risk factors experienced by older and/or minority workers; methods research to develop more sensitive means of evaluating hazards at work sites; and evaluations of the effectiveness of prevention and intervention programs, including new approaches or combinations of techniques that have been developed and implemented in workplaces.

Three types of grants will be funded: research project grants for projects designed to establish, discover, develop, elucidate, or confirm information relating to occupational safety and health; demonstration project grants for projects designed to address the technical or economic feasibility of implementing a new or improved procedure, method, technique, or system for preventing occupational safety and health problems; and pilot study grants for preliminary evaluation in developing the foundations for future, more comprehensive studies. Awards are expected to range up to $250,000 in direct and indirect costs per year for traditional research and development projects, and up to $50,000 per year in direct costs for pilot studies.

Applications will be evaluated on a competitive basis, including peer review for scientific merit through the NIH review system, which NIOSH currently uses. Eligible applicants include non-profit and for-profit organizations, universities, colleges, research institutions, and other public and private organizations, including state and local governments and small, minority-, and/or woman-owned businesses.

The NIOSH request for applications was published in the March 17, 1998, Federal Register (Vol. 63, No. 51, pp. 13051-13057) and also will appear on the NIOSH Home Page at Additional information on the grants program, application procedures, and application forms is available by calling 1-888-GRANTS4. Form PHS-398 also is available from NIH on the Internet at

Technical assistance also may be obtained from Roy M. Fleming, Sc.D., Research Grants Program, NIOSH, tel. 404-639-3343; Sidney M. Stahl, Ph.D., Behavioral and Social Research Program, NIA, tel. 301-402-4156; Alan Moshell, M.D., Skin Diseases Branch, NIAMS, tel. 301-594-5017; James S. Panagis, M.D., M.P.H., Musculoskeletal Diseases Branch, NIAMS, tel. 301-594-5055; George S. Malindzak, Ph.D., Division of Extramural Research and Training, NIEHS, tel. 919-541-3289; and Gail Weinmann, M.D., Division of Lung Diseases, NHLBI, tel. 301-594-0202.

For further information about the National Occupational Research Agenda and NIOSH research programs, visit NIOSH on the World Wide Web at, or call the toll-free NIOSH information number, 1-800-35-NIOSH(1-800-356-4674).