Announcements

  • March 4, 2015

    Dr. Nancy Nadon, lead scientist for NIA’s Intervention Testing Program, discusses the importance of using female, along with male, mice when determining the effects of compounds on health and longevity.

  • February 27, 2015

    Animal models are an essential resource in the research enterprise. Studies in flies, worms, mice, and even yeast, have led to breakthroughs in treating major health problems in humans, such as cancer, diabetes, and heart disease. These animals are also important in studying the basic biology of aging. They might not look anything like us on the outside, but deep in the cells, they share similar biological mechanisms and genes that contribute to physical changes and diseases associated with age. In addition, because most of these animals have a relatively short lifespan, researchers can test disease—and aging—interventions in a timely way.

    Now, researchers at the Stanford University School of Medicine have identified a new animal model for research on aging: the African turquoise killifish. It is the shortest lived vertebrate bred in the lab, with a lifespan of approximately 4 to 6 months. That is six times shorter than the lifespan of mice. Also, unlike mice, killifish have a similar telomere length to that of humans. This makes them particularly suited for studying genetics and telomere-related diseases.

    To help with future investigations, the Stanford scientists have developed a biological toolkit of the killifish and made it publically available to the research community. The toolkit includes the sequenced genome of the killifish, with a mapped location of specific genes involved in aging and age-related diseases; genomic data sets and gene models from experiments on 13 genes thought be associated with aging; and stable lines of fish with mutations in select genes.

    Reference: Harel I, et al. A platform for rapid exploration of aging and diseases in a naturally short-lived vertebrate, Cell, 2015, www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/25684364.

  • February 25, 2015

    Cartoon of four people in conversation.

    The NIA announces an updated funding policy with important new information for Alzheimer’s disease researchers seeking grants. This year, fiscal year 2015, the NIA received an additional $25 million for research on Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Robin Barr, Director of the Division of Extramural Activities, explains, “This year, we are moving to establish a separate, enhanced payline for Alzheimer’s funding while still reserving some support for initiatives and strategic priorities. In making that choice, we now expect that Alzheimer’s research will continue to have an enhanced payline relative to other fields in future years.”

    See the full blog post: Alzheimer's Disease Funding: Interim Update on Payline

    The NIA blog publishes weekly with information on grants and funding policy, research priorities, scientific meetings, and topics of interest to researchers and others in the scientific community. Subscribe to get it weekly in your email inbox, or grab the RSS feed.

  • February 23, 2015

    Researchers at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine recently published the first study that provides definitive evidence that people with Down syndrome age at a faster rate. In the Feb. 9, 2015, online issue of Aging Cell, researchers led by Dr. Steve Horvath reported that they have applied an “epigenetic clock” developed for normal aging to tissues from people with Down syndrome.

    Down syndrome is not only associated with intellectual disability, but also with a group of clinical symptoms of accelerated aging. These include premature wrinkling and grey hair, early menopause, reduced immune function, and Alzheimer’s disease. Until now, it has not been clear whether these symptoms are actually due to accelerated aging processes in Down syndrome.

    The research team analyzed brain, blood, and buccal (cheek) tissue samples from up to 87 people with Down syndrome and calculated their epigenetic clock measure from patterns of DNA methylation. They found that Down syndrome did accelerate this measure of aging in all individuals, but that different types of tissue aged at different rates. For example, brain tissue shows a greater age acceleration effect (11 years) than blood (about 4 years). No sign of accelerated aging was seen in the buccal tissue.

    Reference: Horvath S, et al. Accelerated epigenetic aging in Down syndrome. Aging Cell. 2015 Feb 9. doi: 10.1111/acel.12325. [Epub ahead of print]

  • February 18, 2015

    Cartoon of four people in conversation.

    This is an extremely difficult time in aging research. Dr. Richard J. Hodes, NIA director, describes some of the challenges that lie ahead, as well as what the next fiscal year will bring. “While the scientific and fiscal challenges are very real, it is still an exciting time to be in aging and Alzheimer’s research,” writes Dr. Hodes.

    See the full blog post: Supporting Aging Research in Challenging Times

    The NIA blog publishes weekly with information on grants and funding policy, research priorities, scientific meetings, and topics of interest to researchers and others in the scientific community. Subscribe to get it weekly in your email inbox, or grab the RSS feed.

  • February 13, 2015

    The National Institute on Aging (NIA), a major research component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), is seeking exceptional candidates for the position of Director, Division of Neuroscience (DN). The Director is responsible for planning, directing and evaluating extramural and collaborative research and training in the three DN branches: Neurobiology of Aging, Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience, and Dementias of Aging. The NIA is the lead NIH Institute in Alzheimer’s disease research and the Dementias Branch directs all aspects of research on Alzheimer’s disease from basic neuroscience to translational research and clinical trials of new therapeutic interventions. 

    The Director of DN is responsible for collaborating with other NIA Divisions, NIH Institutes and Centers and other Federal agencies in the coordination and support of relevant scientific activities. This includes working with the NIA’s Office of Communications and Public Liaison in developing material for distribution to Congress, scientists and the public.  In addition, the Director will maintain liaisons with leading medical and scientific directors, private organizations, and professional societies and with leading researchers and clinicians in research on normal and abnormal brain aging. The Director will also be responsible for liaising with various industry groups as a participant, panelist and/or spokesperson as may be required from time to time. The ideal candidate should be comfortable with speaking publicly, to the news media (print and broadcast) and to various groups of influencers about the activities of the NIA, the current state of the science, research investments and projects and the role of the NIA in helping to shape them.

    Applicants must possess an M.D. and/or Ph.D., or equivalent degree in the biomedical sciences, with broad senior-level experience in neurosciences and aging. They should be known and respected within their profession, both nationally and internationally,as distinguished individuals of outstanding scientific competence and should demonstrate through their experience that they have provided oversight for the quality, scientific productivity and management of a research program in normal and abnormal brain aging.

    Application Process: Application packages are to include a CV with bibliography and a statement addressing the qualifications and interest in the position. Application packages can be submitted via email at NIAJobs@mail.nih.gov or by mail to National Institute on Aging, 9000 Rockville Pike, Building 31/Suite 2c02, Bethesda, MD 20892 Attention: Jessica Schwartz. All application materials must be received by March 31, 2015. Salary is commensurate with experience and a full package of Civil Service benefits is available. All information provided by applicants will remain confidential and will not be released outside the NIA search process without a signed release from candidates. For further information and questions, please contact Jessica Schwartz at NIAJobs@mail.nih.gov or by phone at 301-402-7719

    The NIH encourages the application and nomination of qualified women, minorities, and individuals with disabilities.

    HHS AND NIH ARE EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYERS

  • January 28, 2015

    Cartoon of four people in conversation.

    Dallas Anderson, Program Administrator in the Division of Neuroscience, describes common pitfalls to avoid when developing research plans for grant applications. The most common recommendation that he makes is to simplify the research plan.

    Read the full blog post: Strengthen your research plan for a better score – Dos and Don’ts

    The NIA blog publishes weekly with information on grants and funding policy, research priorities, scientific meetings, and topics of interest to researchers and others in the scientific community. Subscribe to get it weekly in your email inbox, or grab the RSS feed.

  • February 4, 2015

    Cartoon of four people in conversation.

    The application period for the Summer Training in Aging Research Program is now underway. Students accepted into the program will get a unique, hands-on experience alongside NIA investigators and scientists in the labs of NIA’s Intramural Research Program. Any high school, college, graduate or medical/ dental students interested in biomedical research are encouraged to apply.

    Read the full blog post: Summer training in aging research—now accepting applications

    The NIA blog publishes weekly with information on grants and funding policy, research priorities, scientific meetings, and topics of interest to researchers and others in the scientific community. Subscribe to get it weekly in your email inbox, or grab the RSS feed.

  • February 11, 2015

    Cartoon of four people in conversation.

    Robin Barr, Director of the Division of Extramural Activities, explains what the recently announced NIA payline means for potential applicants and sheds light on NIA’s future funding outlook for the remainder of the year.

    Read the full blog post: Payline update

    The NIA blog publishes weekly with information on grants and funding policy, research priorities, scientific meetings, and topics of interest to researchers and others in the scientific community. Subscribe to get it weekly in your email inbox, or grab the RSS feed.

  • February 3, 2015

    Older adults who take anticholinergic drugs, which are commonly prescribed for a wide range of health conditions, may be at significantly higher risk of developing dementia—and the greater the use of the drugs, the higher the potential risk. The NIA-supported findings appeared online Jan. 26, 2015, in JAMA Internal Medicine.

    Anticholinergics are prescribed for many health conditions in older people, including overactive bladder, seasonal allergies, and depression. Some are available over the counter and are often used as sleep aids. These medications block a neurotransmitter--acetylcholine—in the brain and body and may cause such side effects as impaired cognition, especially in older people. This side effect was thought to be reversible once the person stopped taking the medication.

    However, researchers led by Dr. Shelly Gray, University of Washington School of Pharmacy, Seattle, showed that these medications may have a lasting impact. By analyzing records and data from the NIA-supported Group Health/University of Washington Adult Changes in Thought (ACT) study for drugs prescribed over 10 years to 3,434 adults age 65 and older, they calculated cumulative exposure to drugs with strong anticholinergic effects.

    The analysis showed that 78 percent of ACT participants used anticholinergics at least once in 10 years. Nearly 800 participants (23 percent) developed dementia, usually Alzheimer’s. The higher the use of anticholinergics, the higher the risk of dementia, regardless of whether the drugs had been taken recently or years ago.

    The findings suggest that physicians treating older people should prescribe alternatives to anticholinergics, when possible, or lower doses of the drugs. More studies are needed to determine to what extent stopping anticholinergics can reduce the risk of developing permanent dementia.

    Reference: Gray SL, et al. Cumulative use of strong anticholinergics and incident dementia. JAMA Internal Medicine. Published online Jan. 26, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.7663.

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