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U54: Specialized Center Cooperative Agreements

Specialized Center Cooperative Agreements (U54), as defined by the NIH Office of Extramural Research, support any part of the full range of research and development from very basic to clinical; may involve ancillary supportive activities such as protracted patient care necessary to the primary research or R&D effort. The spectrum of activities comprises a multidisciplinary attack on a specific disease entity or biomedical problem area. These differ from program projects in that they are usually developed in response to an announcement of the programmatic needs of an Institute or Division and subsequently receive continuous attention from its staff. Centers may also serve as regional or national resources for special research purposes, with funding component staff helping to identify appropriate priority needs.

The U54 at NIDDK

NIDDK currently uses the U54 mechanism to fund centers in urologic, hematologic, and kidney diseases. Details for each center type are below as well as links to the current Request for Applications (RFA) when available.

NIDDK also uses the U54 to support Rare Diseases Clinical Research Consortia (RDCRC) for the Rare Diseases Clinical Research Network (RDCRN) and other programs initiated by the NIH Office of the Director or NIH Common Fund. The most recent Notice of Funding Opportunity for Rare Diseases Clinical Research Consortia (RDCRC) was PAR-24-206.

NIDDK does not accept unsolicited U54 applications. All applications must be submitted in response to an active targeted notice of funding opportunity.

Cooperative Centers of Excellence in Hematology (CCEH)

NIDDK's Cooperative Centers of Excellence in Hematology (CCEH) are designed to increase access to critical research resources and collaboration in a national multidisciplinary research effort to combat nonmalignant hematologic diseases and to study normal hematopoiesis. In addition, it aims to improve cost-effectiveness of preparing critical reagents, maintaining state-of-the-art resources, and running multi-step molecular biologic assays. Each CCEH supports a minimum of three Biomedical Research Cores, an Administrative Core, and an Enrichment Program. The CCEH are expected to work collaboratively with the NIDDK Hematology Central Coordinating Center—together comprising the NIDDK Hematology Centers Program. By providing state-of-the-art equipment, resources, and expertise to the greater nonmalignant hematology research community, the program serves as a national hub for nonmalignant hematology research, supporting career development of scientists just beginning their careers in the field and attracting established investigators from other domains. Funded Centers cooperate with the NIDDK to facilitate research collaborations and interactions within and among Centers and with the wider research community.

Urologic Disease Centers

NIDDK's George M. O'Brien Urology Cooperative Research Centers conduct basic, translational and clinical research into the pathophysiology of urologic diseases and disorders. In addition to supporting complementary research projects, they generate and provide investigative resources that are available to the broader research community. They have integrated teams of investigators from a wide range of disciplines, share specialized equipment, and serve as regional or national resources. The Centers also support pilot and feasibility studies, collaborative research activities and offer short-term educational enrichment activities. Center activities are supported by a Urology Centers Program Interactions Core (U24). The Interactions Core further coordinates the umbrella CAIRIBU (Collaborating for the Advancement of Interdisciplinary Research in Benign Urology) program, which incorporates a wide range of administrative, educational, collaborative, and evaluative activities.

Polycystic Kidney Disease Centers

NIDDK supports the PKD Research Consortium to lead nationwide efforts in supporting kidney research by generating and sharing investigative resources for the broader research community. This consortium supports integrated teams of investigators from a wide range of disciplines, support pilot and feasibility studies and offer short-term educational enrichment activities. The Consortium is coordinated by a separate National Coordinating Center (U24).

Last Reviewed November 2023