Announcements

  • May 29, 2013

    Go4Life® en español

    Go4Life, NIA’s national exercise and physical activity campaign encourages Americans 50 and older to fit exercise and physical activity into daily life. Go4Life offers exercises, motivational tips, safety information, and free resources for health professionals and the public. The campaign now has 12 federal partners and 65 partners from the private sector.

    NIH MedlinePlus Salud Winter/Invierno 2012In recent weeks, the campaign has focused on its Spanish-language materials. The winter issue of the NIH MedlinePlus Spanish-language magazine Salud featured the Go4Life campaign and provided examples of the four types of exercise: endurance, strength, balance, and flexibility.

    In addition, Go4Life added five new Spanish tip sheets to the website:

    For more Go4Life resources in Spanish, visit http://go4life.nia.nih.gov/resources/spanish.

  • May 29, 2013

    As the American population ages, the number of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) individuals ages 65 and older is also increasing. However, we know surprisingly little about unique health issues and needs that may pertain to this group. Much of the data available are based on small studies and are not nationally representative. In particular, bisexuals, transgender individuals, LGBT persons of color, and the “oldest old” in these communities (ages 85 and older) are significantly under-studied, according to the 2011 Institute of Medicine (IOM) Consensus Report, The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Better Understanding. (See below for more on this report.)

    The NIA currently supports several LGBT-relevant studies and anticipates funding additional research under several recently released Funding Opportunity Announcements (FOAs) and other mechanisms. Recently, results from the NIA-supported study Caring and Aging with Pride, the first national, federally funded project examining LGBT aging and health, were released. Led by Dr. Karen I. Fredriksen-Goldsen of the University of Washington, this pioneering project involved collaboration from 11 other community-based agencies serving LGBT elders across the United States.

    Key findings from the study include:

    • Lesbian, gay, and bisexual older adults report higher rates of disability and mental distress than heterosexual older adults. Nearly a third report depression, and over half experience loneliness.
    • Some 68 percent report experiencing verbal harassment, and 43 percent say they have been threatened with physical violence due to their sexual or gender identity.
    • Access to health care remains a concern. Some 21 percent of study participants indicate that they do not disclose their sexual or gender identity to their physician; 15 percent fear accessing health care outside the LGBT community; 22 percent of transgender older adults can’t afford needed medical care; and 13 percent say they have been denied health care or provided with inferior care, as a result of their sexual or gender identity.
    • Caregiving was an important focus of this study. The investigators found that 30 percent of women and 26 percent of men surveyed were acting as a caregiver to a partner or spouse, friend, parent, adult child, or other relative. Caregivers were more likely than non-caregivers to report disability, depression, victimization, and verbal and physical abuse.
    • Nevertheless, LGBT older adults report tremendous resilience, with 91 percent engaging in regular wellness activities and 89 percent indicating that they feel positive about belonging to their LGBT communities.

    Study participants identified senior housing, transportation, social events, support groups, and legal support as the services for which LGBT elders are most in need. The full report, executive summary, and fact sheets are available at http://caringandaging.org.

    NIH Efforts

    Recognizing a need for more information on the health of LGBT people of all ages, the NIH commissioned an IOM study in 2009. In its 2011 report, The Health of Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender People: Building a Foundation for Greater Understanding, the IOM committee noted the lack of research in this area and recommended a number of steps, including implementation of a research agenda to advance knowledge and understanding of LGBT health; support of methodological research that relates to LGBT health; and establishment of a comprehensive research training approach to strengthen LGBT health research at NIH.

    In response to these recommendations, NIH formed the LGBT Research Coordinating Committee to develop and coordinate potential research and training activities, assess relevant past and current activities across NIH, and develop recommendations for new activities focused on research and training. The committee performed a comprehensive portfolio analysis and reported that the NIH LGBT research portfolio was distributed across 13 Institutes, Centers, and Offices, with most of the existing research in behavioral and social science, mental health, and drug abuse, particularly as they relate to HIV/AIDS.

    In addition, the Committee coordinated reissue, by 12 ICs, of FOAs (R01, R03, R21) on LGBT and Intersex Health. For more information on NIH research on LGBT populations, visit the NIH website.

  • May 29, 2013

    Dr. Andrew Singleton, director of NIA’s Laboratory of Neurogenetics and branch chief of its Molecular Genetics Section, was recently featured in The Catalyst, the newsletter of the NIH Intramural Research Program. The article offers a fascinating glimpse into the lab’s groundbreaking research on the genetics of Alzheimer’s disease, Parkinson’s disease, ALS, and more. Read more about his work focus on the genetics of rare diseases.

  • May 29, 2013
    AGHE President Janet Frank with NIA Deputy Director Dr. Marie A. Bernard

    AGHE President Janet Frank with NIA Deputy Director Dr. Marie A. Bernard. Photocredit: Gerontological Society of America

    NIA Deputy Director Dr. Marie A. Bernard was named the 2013 winner of the Clark Tibbitts Award from the Association for Gerontology in Higher Education (AGHE), the educational arm of the Gerontological Society of America. She delivered the award lecture, “The Nexus: Gerontology/Geriatrics Education and Aging Research,” aka “Living Long and Well in the 21st Century: Strategic Directions for NIA Research on Aging,” on March 2 at the AGHE annual meeting in St. Petersburg, FL.

    The award is given by AGHE each year to an individual or organization that has made an outstanding contribution to the advancement of gerontology and geriatrics education. Awardees have been significantly involved in and made a national impact on gerontology or geriatrics education.

    Clark Tibbitts was an early pioneer and advocate for geriatrics education. The awardee becomes an honorary fellow of AGHE in addition to delivering the lecture at the annual meeting.

    “I am honored to receive this award,” noted Dr. Bernard. “In the 1950s and '60s, Clark Tibbitts recognized the need for structured programs of geriatric education. Today, that need is more urgent than ever as we address the aging of our society.”

  • May 29, 2013

    On April 12, the Population Association of America (PAA) announced that NIA Director Dr. Richard Hodes had been awarded the PAA Excellence in Public Service Award. Created in 2008, the award honors federal, state, and local policy makers and staff who have been especially supportive of demographic or population research and the federal agencies that fund it.

    NIA Director Dr. Richard Hodes accepts the Excellence in Public Service Award from the Population Association of America
    NIA Director Dr. Richard Hodes (center) accepts the Excellence in Public Service Award from the Population Association of America. Also pictured are (left to right): Georgeanne Patmios, NIA; Dr. Richard Suzman, NIA; Mary Jo Hoeksema, PAA; Dr. Christine Bachrach, PAA; and Dr. John Haaga, NIA.

    In presenting the award, PAA President Christine Bachrach noted Dr. Hodes’ “tremendous leadership of the NIA,” as well as the critical role he has played in encouraging investment in the behavioral and social sciences at the NIH overall.

    “You have been an outstanding supporter of the population sciences,” Ms. Bachrach said. “You’ve supported the development of invaluable large-scale longitudinal studies, such as the Health and Retirement Study, and infrastructure programs like the Demography of Aging Centers. Your willingness to support the good science that has come to the NIA has made it possible for population scientists worldwide to make important contributions toward understanding the complex implications of an aging population.”

    “I am honored to receive this award from the Population Association of America,” Dr. Hodes said. “When I was named NIA Director, I came to the Institute with a background in cancer research, at the cellular level, as an immunologist. I have come to fully appreciate the importance of demographic research that looks at individuals, families, and societies, encompassing a national and international view of population aging. I am grateful for this award and share it with Dr. Richard Suzman and our Division of Behavioral and Social Research, which has been so innovative in NIA’s approach to population studies.”

  • June 3, 2013

    On October 30–31, the NIH, with support from the Alliance for Aging Research and the Gerontological Society of America, will host “Advances in Geroscience: Impacts on Healthspan and Chronic Disease.” The scientific conference, which will take place on the NIH campus in Bethesda, MD, will examine the extent to which the physiological effects of aging represent a common major risk factor for chronic diseases.

    The objectives of the summit are:

    • To use the foundational concepts of geroscience to understand basic cellular and molecular underpinnings of aging as a principal risk factor for a variety of chronic diseases
    • To explore common mechanisms governing relationships between aging and chronic diseases
    • To identify new pathways for research collaboration

    The meeting will begin with a plenary session featuring a lecture by NIH Director Dr. Francis S. Collins. Other speakers in the session will be Drs. Brian Kennedy of the Buck Institute, Linda Fried of Columbia University, and Chris Murray of the University of Washington. This will be followed by seven scientific sessions looking at major intersections of aging and disease. Using a panel discussion format led by renowned scientists in the field, the sessions will focus on inflammation, adaptation to stress, epigenetics and regulatory RNA, metabolism, macromolecular damage, proteostasis, and stem cells and regeneration.

    Trans-N I H GeroScience Interest Group logoThe summit program is the brainchild of the Trans-NIH GeroScience Interest Group (GSIG). Established in October 2011, the GSIG focuses on many of the same relationships between aging and age-related disease and disability that will be discussed at the Geroscience Summit. Dr. Felipe Sierra, director of the NIA Division of Aging Biology (DAB), Dr. Ronald Kohanski, DAB deputy director, and Dr. Kevin Howcroft, program director in the Cancer Immunology and Hematology Branch of the National Cancer Institute, led development of the summit program.

    The overall goals of GSIG are:

    • To promote discussion, sharing of ideas, and coordination of activities within the NIH, relating to the specific needs of the research community working on mechanisms underlying age-related changes, including those that could lead to increased disease susceptibility
    • To raise awareness, both within and outside the NIH, of the relevant role played by aging biology in the development of age-related processes and chronic disease through seminars featuring both internal and external speakers, as well as symposia and workshops
    • To develop potential public/private partnerships through interactions with scientific societies, industry, and other institutions with related interests
    • To develop trans-NIH funding initiatives (including PAs, RFAs, and Common Fund initiatives) or other creative approaches that might present themselves to encourage research on basic biology of aging and its relationship to earlier life events, exposures, and diseases, that will advance the goals and vision of the GSIG, and which complement and enhance the goals and vision of participating Institutes and Centers

    Participation in the GSIG summit is free, but pre-registration is required.

  • May 20, 2013

    Dr. Steve SnyderDr. D. Stephen “Steve” Snyder, deputy director of NIA’s Division of Neuroscience, is retiring after 23 years at the NIH. Dr. Snyder played an instrumental role in building NIA’s extramural research program with a focus on fundamental neuroscience related to Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias. His research interests were wide-ranging, from the cell biological aspects of Alzheimer’s disease, to neuronal and vascular stress, to aspects of prion biology that could have implications for the development of Alzheimer's disease.

    The NIA will miss Steve’s creativity and dedication to neuroscience research. “A member of the Division of Neuroscience for more than 20 years, Steve has played a critical role in the development and growth of the Alzheimer’s program,” said Dr. Neil Buckholtz, division director. “His insights into the basic science of Alzheimer’s and other neurological diseases have made a tremendous contribution to our efforts to understand and treat this devastating disease.”

    A native of Baltimore, Dr. Snyder credits the people he met during his early research and work experiences with motivating him to pursue a career in neuroscience.

    “I discovered that the people I admired were the neuroscientists, that they simply had the most interesting research questions,” Dr. Snyder said. “Neuroscience is a demanding field and can be a struggle for those just starting out, but it seemed to offer a fine area in which to invest a career. I haven’t changed my opinion on that.”

    Dr. Snyder received his B.S. in biology from Loyola College, his M.S. in cell biology from Adelphi University, and his Ph.D. in pathology from Albert Einstein College of Medicine, followed by a postdoctoral fellowship in the Department of Neurology at the University of Tennessee Medical School. He held concurrent positions at the University of Tennessee Medical School and the VA Medical Center in Memphis from 1984 until his move to NIA in 1990.

    “Neuroscience was a field just getting on its feet at that time. I was elated to come to work at the headquarters of NIA,” Dr. Snyder said. “During those years, we were in the very happy position of growing the program and my particular focus was on the etiology of Alzheimer’s disease.”

    While budget constraints are now making for a more demanding research environment, Dr. Snyder said he continues to be optimistic about the future of Alzheimer’s research.

    “While dollars are in short supply, there is no lack of inventiveness,” he said. “Somewhere out there is a 25-year-old working on the next big thing, and in a few years, it will start off a wave of experimentation and advances in our search for therapies to treat dementia.”

    Dr. Snyder is also optimistic about his upcoming move to Baton Rouge, LA with his wife Elaine. While the primary draw is proximity to his young grandchildren, art classes and opportunities for mentoring and advising young scientists are also in his future.

  • May 14, 2013

    Increasing activity of a single gene--FOXO3--increases fertility by 31 to 49 percent in female mice, report researchers at the National Institute on Aging, NIH. Variants of the FOXO3 gene have been previously associated with longevity in many animal models, including humans; but, in mice the main effect of loss or increase of FOXO3 is on ovary function.

    In this study, researchers found that amplifying an active form of FOXO3 preserved ovarian follicles, a sign of reproductive health, and boosted number of offspring produced throughout adult life in female mice. The effects also likely extended reproductive lifespan, but more research is needed to explore that further, according to the researchers. In the same series of experiments, scientists confirmed earlier findings that FOXO3 knockout mice (mice without the gene) show a rapid loss of follicles and premature ovarian failure, and further demonstrated that the ovaries show premature aging. While it is far too early to determine any potential for human intervention, researchers suggest their findings raise the possibility of exploring a future gene therapy to postpone decline in fertility.

    Reference: Pelosi E. et al. Constitutively active Foxo3 in oocytes preserves ovarian reserve in mice. Nature Communications. Published online, May 14, 2013. doi:10.1038/ncomms2861.

  • May 15, 2013

    Get the inside scoop on National Institute on Aging grants and training opportunities, events, research priorities, and policy changes.
    Inside N I A, A Blog for Researchers
    Inside NIA: A Blog for Researchers launched May 15, 2013. It features weekly posts on topics of interest to the research community in aging. The first post is from Dr. Robin Barr, director of NIA’s Division of Extramural Activities. Future posts will come from Robin and a host of authors from the NIA Office of the Director and the Divisions of Aging Biology, Behavioral and Social Research, Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology, and Neuroscience. The goal is to create an open and transparent dialogue with you, an important member of NIA’s research community.

    Whether you are NIA grantee, grant seeker, trainee, or friend of the NIA, find information on topics that matter to you. Learn how to find success as an NIA-supported investigator. Share your thoughts about funding processes, priorities, and policies. Provide feedback and be heard.

    Sign up now to get Inside NIA in your inbox or your RSS reader, and join the conversation!

  • May 10, 2013

    The National Institute on Aging issued its final fiscal year 2013 funding policy on May 8, 2013. The funding policy, or funding line policy, describes how NIA will fund grant awards this year. It provides technical details about NIA’s available budget, funding strategy, and approach for funding different kinds of grant applications. Read the NIA fiscal year 2013 Funding Policy.

    A general introduction to funding policies, including when NIA issues them and how they are used, is also available.

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