About NIA

Offices & Divisions

Division of Neuroscience (DN)

Director: Neil Buckholtz, Ph.D.

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Organized into 3 separate branches, this division fosters and supports extramural and collaborative research and training to further the understanding of neural and behavioral processes associated with the aging brain. Research on dementias of old age—in particular Alzheimer's disease—is one of the program’s highest priorities. The Division supports a number of resources and initiatives: The Alzheimer’s Disease Centers and the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Center; the National Cell Repository for Alzheimer’s Disease, and the associated Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Initiative; the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative; the Translational Initiative (PAR-08-266, PAS-06-261); on behalf of the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research, the NIH Toolbox for Neurological and Behavioral Function and along with NINDS and NIMH, the Cognitive and Emotional Health Project.

The Neurobiology of Aging Branch fosters research aimed at understanding how the nervous system is affected by normal as well as pathological aging. Fundamental Neuroscience supports studies on age-related structural and functional changes in brain, cell death mechanisms and selective vulnerability to aging effects, molecular genetics of brain aging bioenergetic processes, systemic metabolism, the cerebrovasculature, synaptic plasticity, neural stem cells, and neurogenesis. In Integrative Neurobiology, the focus is on age-related research on neural mechanisms underlying changes between organ systems and the CNS, in endocrine and immune functions, and neurodegenerative diseases associated with infectious agents including prions. Sleep and Biological Rhythm encompasses age-related studies of epidemiology, etiology, pathogenesis, diagnosis, treatment, and prevention of sleep disorders of older people; sleep-wake cycles/disordered biorhythmicity and behavioral effects in the aged.

The Dementias of Aging Branch supports studies of etiology, pathophysiology, genetics, epidemiology, clinical course, diagnosis and functional assessment, drug discovery and development, behavioral management, and clinical trials in the dementias of later life, especially Alzheimer’s disease. In Basic Research, it supports examination of molecular, cellular, systemic, and systems aspects involved in the etiology of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias of aging; animal models; genetics; hormonal factors; and cerebrovascular factors. Population Studies are supported in the epidemiology of cognitive decline, mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and Alzheimer's disease including prevalence, incidence, and risk and protective factors. A Clinical focus on the diagnosis, treatment, and management of patients with cognitive decline, MCI, or Alzheimer's disease is also important. Here, research on diagnosis is aimed at the development and evaluation of reliable and valid multidimensional procedures and instruments for diagnosis, progression, and response to treatment. The maintenance of a research infrastructure is critical, and the Research Centers component of this branch supports Alzheimer's Disease Research Centers and Alzheimer's Disease Center Core programs, that provide a multifaceted approach to research, training, and educational activities on Alzheimer's disease. It also supports the National Alzheimer's Coordinating Center and several multi-center collaborative research projects.

The Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience Branch emphasizes research on the neural and psychological mechanisms underlying age-related changes in cognition, emotions, sensory and motor function, from the level of gene to the whole organism, as well as epidemiological studies of populations. Studies of molecular, structural, and dynamic brain changes, including research on adaptation or plasticity, are of particular interest, as well as therapeutics to maintain or gain function in older age. A focus on Sensory Processes supports studies on mechanisms of normal aging and disease-related alterations in visual, auditory, somatosensory, vestibular, chemosensory functions, and pain. In an effort to understand Motor Function, research is supported on proprioception, postural control, sensory motor integration, vestibular, and movement disorders in aging, including Parkinson's disease. Efforts in Cognitive and Affective Neuroscience look at cognitive processes, including learning, memory, attention, and language. Studies of age-related changes in emotion also are supported. An emphasis is placed on understanding and treating age-related cognitive decline and the investigation of its relationship to cognitive dysfunction typical of Alzheimer’s disease and other dementias. The Division of Neuroscience and this branch, in particular, interact and collaborate with the Division of Behavioral and Social Research where behavioral science and cognitive neuroscience converge.

Staff

Dallas Anderson 301-496-9350 andersda@nia.nih.gov e-mail
Neil Buckholtz National Institute on Aging 301-496-9350 buckholn@mail.nih.gov e-mail
Wen Chen 301-496-9350 chenw@mail.nih.gov e-mail
Cerise Elliott 301-496-9350 elliottce@mail.nih.gov e-mail
John Hsiao Health Scientist Administrator 301-496-9350 jhsiao@mail.nih.gov e-mail
Mack Mackiewicz Program Director 301-496-9350 mackiewiczm2@mail.nih.gov e-mail
Marilyn Miller NIH NIA 301-496-9350 millerm@nia.nih.gov e-mail
Oreisa O'Neil oneilo@mail.nih.gov e-mail
Suzana Petanceska Health Scientist Administrator 301-496-9350 sp440u@nih.gov e-mail
Creighton Phelps 301-496-9350 phelpsc@nia.nih.gov e-mail
Lorenzo Refolo DER-NEURODEGENERATION 301-594-7576 refolol@mail.nih.gov e-mail
Laurie Ryan Health Scientist Administrator 301-496-9350 ryanl@mail.nih.gov e-mail
Robin Sierra Research Program Analyst 301-496-9350 rw371z@nih.gov e-mail
Nina Silverberg Health Scientist Administrator 301-496-9350 silverbergn@mail.nih.gov e-mail
Mary Tolbert 301-594-7574 tolbertm@exmur.nia.nih.gov e-mail
Molly Wagster 301-496-9350 wagsterm@nia.nih.gov e-mail
Donna Weaver-thomas 301-496-9350 weaverd2@mail.nih.gov e-mail
Brad Wise Chief, Neurobiology of Aging Branch 301-496-9350 wiseb@nia.nih.gov e-mail