NIAAA to Award B/START Grants

The National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) has launched a program of grants designed to support new behavioral science researchers during a critical early period in their career.

Under its Behavioral Science Track Award for Rapid Transition (B/START-NIAAA) program, NIAAA will be accepting applications for small-scale, exploratory behavioral science research projects across a wide variety of behavioral factors in alcohol abuse, including neurocognitive, cognitive and perceptual processes and psychosocial influences such as, motivational, social and community factors in alcohol abuse. Both animal and human studies are encouraged. Since alcohol abuse sometimes plays a role in HIV/AIDS transmission, studies applying basic behavioral science models and methods to address this issue are also encouraged.

Applications will receive rapid review and funding decisions. To be eligible for a B/START-NIAAA award, the principal investigator (PI) must be independent of a mentor at the time of the award, and be at the beginning stages of their research. Investigators in the final stages of training are eligible to apply, but B/START awards will not be given to anyone still in training.

Further, the proposed PI may not have been designated previously as PI on any Public Health Service supported research project. Previous receipt of National Research Service Award funds or a Mentored Research Career Development Award is permissible.

B/START grants have been used successfully by other institutes to support behavioral researchers who are just embarking on their scientific careers. The first B/START program was launched by the National Institute of Mental Health in 1994. Initially, this approach was developed in order to reverse a documented decline in the number of new behavioral investigators in the field of mental health research. Since then, other institutes, including the National Institute on Drug Abuse and the National Institute on Aging, have used B/START or similar approaches to attract new behavioral scientists to their particular fields of interest.

APS was instrumental in the creation of the B/START model, and has worked closely with Congress to encourage its use more widely at the National Institutes of Health. By giving investigators the resources to develop pilot data, B/START sustains them during a critical juncture in their professional development and provides valuable experience that will help them compete for regular grants.

NIAAA is encouraging more investigators in the field of alcohol-related behavioral science research in recognition of the fact that behavior is a fundamental aspect of alcohol abuse and alcoholism.

Animal and human research applications are encouraged. Research topics include (but are not restricted to):

  • Behavioral genetic approaches
  • Cognitive effects and causative factors in humans and animals
  • Psychosocial, social and personality factors
  • Motivational bases of behavior
  • Modification and/or development of animal paradigms to study alcohol’s behavioral effects during juvenile through adolescent period
  • Evaluation of behavioral interventions for impairments resulting from prenatal alcohol exposure
  • Temperamental factors related to the development of alcoholism

NIAAA is a strong supporter of psychological research — approximately one-third of its PI’s are psychologists — and in recent years the institute has been broadening its mission to accommodate a wider range of behavioral science perspectives.

For more information contact: Joanne Fertig, Division of Clinical and Prevention Research, NIAAA, 6000 Executive Blvd, MSC 7003, Bethesda, MD 20892-7003; tel.: 301-443-0635; email: jfertig@wilco.niaaa.nih.gov.

Observer Vol.12, No.2 February, 1999

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