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Research Interests of Institutes and Centers

For questions specific to a particular Institute or Center, potential applicants are urged to contact the scientific/research staff at that Institute or Center to ensure that proposed studies are responsive to this FOA.

1. What are the research areas of interest for the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health (NCCIH)?

NCCIH is interested in embedded pragmatic or implementation trials that evaluate the effectiveness of complementary and integrative health interventions or how to implement these interventions into health care delivery. Complementary approaches include those with physical and/or psychological therapeutic inputs, often called mind and body approaches (e.g., acupuncture, yoga, tai chi, qi gong, meditation, hypnosis, music therapy, art therapy, spinal or chiropractic manipulation, and massage) as well as approaches with dietary or nutritional therapeutic inputs (e.g., special diets). Integrative approaches include therapies that combine complementary approaches with conventional medical interventions such as pharmacologic, surgical, or device-based treatments. In the context of this FOA, NCCIH is particularly interested in encouraging applications that will study the integration of complementary health approaches for SCD pain management into health care delivery. The complementary interventions should have demonstrated efficacy or effectiveness in fully powered randomized controlled trials. In addition, NCCIH encourages applications that will study methods to improve adherence to evidence-based pain management guidelines that include complementary and integrative health approaches to reduce the reliance on solely opioid-based treatments and improve functional outcomes (e.g., anxiety, depression, sleep disturbances) to promote a whole health approach to SCD pain management. Applications that include interventions to mitigate stigma and other structural and social factors (e.g., racism) that may hinder quality comprehensive pain care for patients with SCD are also of interest. Applicants are encouraged to discuss applications with the NCCIH contact listed in Section VII. Agency Contacts.

2. What are the research areas of interest for the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI)?

The National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI) provides global leadership in research, training, and education programs to promote the prevention and treatment of heart, lung, and blood diseases and sleep disorders (HLBS). NHLBI seeks to optimize clinical and implementation research to improve health and reduce disease. In the context of this FOA, NHLBI is interested in studies of effective strategies to train primary care providers, nurse practitioners and patient care navigators in sickle cell disease pain management, and to incorporate technology (e.g., telemedicine) to extend care by specialists to providers in the community; investigations that use implementation strategies to facilitate care transitions, such as from inpatient to outpatient, or pediatric to adult, to maintain optimal evidence-based SCD pain management care; research on reducing or stopping (de-implementing) the use of HLBS clinical and community practices that are ineffective, unproven, low-value, or harmful; research that focuses on clinical decision support systems to facilitate shared decision-making approaches in clinical and community settings; research on how best to integrate evidence-based interventions across diverse populations and clinical settings that take into account social determinants of health; and studies testing the effectiveness and cost-effectiveness of dissemination or implementation strategies to reduce health disparities and improve health care and quality of life among rural, minority, low literacy and numeracy, and other disproportionately affected populations.

3. What are the research areas of interest for the National Eye Institute (NEI)?

Sickle cell disease can manifest in multiple ways including ophthalmic manifestations such as potential macular thinning, or peripheral retinal ischemia. NEI is interested in applications that aim at reducing the burden of eye disease associated with sickle cell disease and/or improving patients' visual functioning.

4. What are the research areas of interest for the National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)?

NIDA is interested in research to evaluate pain management interventions that may reduce the severity of opioid use disorders (OUDs) and overdose in patients with sickle cell disease (SCD). These efforts include the evaluation of existing or new medications, behavioral treatments, or other interventions for pain management that can reduce the need for opioids, e.g., opioid-sparing, to treat pain conditions (simplified drug design, vaccine adjuvants, medication delivery). Additionally, research is encouraged that has the potential to reduce abuse liability of addictive pain treatments, and studies of pain medications, psychostimulants, anxiolytics, sedative/hypnotics that focus on clinical measurement of vulnerability to substance use disorder (SUD) in SCD. Research also is encouraged towards understanding the neurobiological bases (e.g., circuitry, neurochemical substrates) of the affective component of pain and how these overlap with neurobiological substrates of addiction. Understanding of acute and chronic pain processes; antinociceptive actions of opioids, cannabinoids, peptides; cellular processes of pain, analgesia, and tolerance (i.e., receptor internalization).

5. What are the research areas of interest for the National Institute on Minority Health and Health Disparities (NIMHD)?

The mission of NIMHD is to lead, conduct and support scientific research to improve minority health and reduce health disparities in the populations that include Blacks/African Americans, Hispanics/Latinos, American Indians/Alaska Natives, Asian Americans, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders, socioeconomically disadvantaged populations, underserved rural populations, immigrant populations and sexual and gender minorities. In the context of this FOA, NIMHD is particularly interested in encouraging applications that include, but are not limited to: address the intersection of acute and chronic pain management in SCD and ways to maintain continuity of care in patients with acute and chronic pain, and multilevel strategies to improve services for SCD, strategies to address social determinants of health for improving health and reducing health disparities; research on the outcomes of implementation, management and treatment of acute and chronic pain in SCD; conduct subpopulation analysis to determine which interventions work best for specific minority and underserved population groups with the intent to focus on improving quality of life. We encourage inquiries concerning this funding opportunity and welcome the opportunity to answer questions from potential applicants.

6. What are the research areas of interest for the National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR)?

The National Institute of Nursing Research (NINR) supports research that uses nursing’s holistic perspective to improve individual and population health outcomes and eliminate health inequities by bridging biomedical science and provision of healthcare services with the realities of people’s lives and living conditions (i.e., social determinants) across the clinical and community settings where nurses practice. NINR encourages research that integrates factors at multiple levels to identify their role in health, health improvement and health inequities with the goal of improving the health of individuals, families, and populations.


In the context of this FOA, NINR’s interests include but are not limited to the following topics:

  • Studies of SCD pain management that address SCD health-related social risk factors and social needs within the context of clinical practice and health care delivery
  • Research that addresses stigma, access to quality care, bias, and structural barriers impacting health outcomes, health seeking behavior, and patient-provider interactions
  • Projects aimed at under-served, uninsured, and under-insured SCD populations
  • Trials that include efforts to identify and eliminate negative effects of implicit bias in healthcare providers
  • Multidisciplinary, multi-level interventions or multi-component delivery models that engage the SCD community

7. What are the research areas of interest for the Office of Research on Women’s Health (ORWH)?

The Office of Research on Women's Health (ORWH) is part of the Office of the Director of NIH and works in partnership with the 27 NIH Institutes and Centers to ensure that women's health research is part of the scientific framework at the NIH and throughout the scientific community.

Sickle cell disease (SCD) is the most common inherited blood disorder in the United States. The most common complication of SCD is pain, including severe acute pain, chronic persistent pain, and neuropathic pain. Given the higher prevalence of pain disorders in females and their greater pain sensitivity, it is crucial to include women in pain and pain-management research.

For the purposes of this FOA, ORWH also supports research on SCD pain and the intersectionality of sex, gender, race, and biopsychosocial and cultural factors throughout the lifespan that affect health of both women and men.

Integrating the purposeful accounting for sex as a biological variable (SABV) in biomedical research on SCD pain and pain management will fill gaps in our knowledge and inform more effective, personalized approaches to improve health for women and men. The 2019–2023 Trans-NIH Strategic Plan for the Health of Women is available on the ORWH website for additional guidance.