Frequently Asked Questions About the CITP

Question: What is the purpose of the NIA/NIH's Caenorhabditis Intervention Testing Program (CITP)?

Answer: The CITP tests compounds for their ability to extend lifespan and/or healthspan in nematodes.

Question: Can I suggest an intervention for inclusion in this test program?

Answer: Yes—a key goal of the CITP is to test the effects of compounds, nutritional supplements, or other interventions that are proposed by interested collaborators. Scientists who work in academic laboratories, or in government or commercial research institutes, can submit intervention proposals.

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Question: What classes of interventions are suitable for this program?

Answer: Proposed interventions can be pharmaceuticals, nutraceuticals, foods, dietary supplements, plant extracts, peptides, amino acids, chelators, redox agents, or other agents or mixtures of agents. Priority consideration will be given to the interventions that are easily obtainable, reasonably priced, and soluble in water or dimethyl sulfoxide (DMSO).

Question: Where are these experiments conducted?

Answer: The experiments are conducted in research laboratories at three different institutions: the Buck Institute for Research on Aging, Rutgers University, and the University of Oregon.

Question: How are the experiments conducted?

Answer: Hermaphroditic Caenorhabditis strains are placed on agar plates treated with the compound of interest. These species of Caenorhabditis include C. elegans, C. briggsae and C. tropicalis. Each worm is observed until death, whether from natural causes or other means (bagging, extrusion, etc.).

Question: How do I propose a specific intervention?

Answer: Individuals who wish to suggest ("sponsor") an intervention are asked to provide a rationale as to why they believe the intervention will delay aging or increase late-life healthspan. The rationale may include previous experimental data on nematodes, mice, humans, or other animals that are relevant to the proposal.

The sponsor of the intervention is also asked to propose a specific dose and describe any information about possible toxic side effects and safety issues.

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Question: Can I propose more than one intervention?

Answer: Yes—there is no limit to the number of interventions any individual can propose. Each intervention will be considered separately on its own merits.

Question: Can I propose that a compound be evaluated at two or more doses, or do I have to select a single dose to test?

Answer: Yes—as long as there is good reasoning for considering two or more doses. These should be described carefully in the sponsor's application.

Question: Who selects which interventions to be tested each year?

Answer: The CITP primary investigators and lead technicians will evaluate each application and discuss possible changes and improvements with the sponsor of the proposed intervention.

Question: How does this process differ from the usual NIH peer review?

Answer: The CITP selection process does not resemble the usual NIH peer review process. The CITP does not use an NIH grant application form, and the application does not go through the peer review system. Sponsors of specific interventions are treated as collaborators on the CITP project. In particular, the leaders of the CITP work with each applicant to develop the best protocols for incorporation into the program.

Prior to making a recommendation that the intervention be accepted or rejected, lead CITP members typically correspond with sponsors of each intervention to: (1) request additional information, (2) suggest modifications of the protocol, and (3) consult about the design of the experiments to be conducted.

Question: What do I get out of this?

Answer: Sponsors of interventions accepted for the CITP will work with the CITP investigators to develop a protocol for testing their compound. All data will be available for sponsors' use in their own grant applications, research talks, etc., free of charge. Sponsors will be asked to serve as co-authors on any papers that result from research using their intervention proposal and will help to interpret and report the data.

Question: If the agent shortens the lifespan or has negative effects, what will happen to the data?

Answer: The CITP plans to publish all data, including data on agents that fail to increase lifespan and/or healthpan, or interventions that have deleterious side effects.

Question: Do I get paid for my efforts in this collaboration?

Answer: Sponsors are not paid for their efforts as collaborators in the CITP, either as consultants or by means of research grant awards.

Question: Are funds available to support work conducted in my laboratory in connection with the CITP?

Answer: Funds can be provided to pay for specific services. For example, if a laboratory produces a compound that will be tested by the CITP, reimbursement for developing the agent can be made.

Question: If I propose an intervention to be tested in the CITP, does this prevent me from using this agent in a grant application or other sponsored project of my own?

Answer: No—sponsors of interventions may seek other sources of funding, including NIH grant funds, for studies of the same intervention. 

Question: Is there a deadline for submission of a proposed intervention?

Answer: Currently, the CITP evaluates all submissions on a rolling basis.

Question: Where can I receive more information about the CITP?

Answer: The CITP is coordinated by NIA/NIH. Contact information for our collaborators is provided in the link below: