Announcements

  • March 30, 2012

    Registration is now open for the Symposium on Results for RC2 Project, to be held June 4, 2012 in the Natcher Auditorium on the NIH campus. The Symposium will be a presentation and discussion of progress and findings from the ARRA-funded Genome-wide Association Study and telomere analysis of 100,000 participants in the Kaiser Permanente Northern California HMO. Hosted by the Department of Health and Human Services and the National Institute on Aging, with support from the National Institute on Mental Health.

    Date:
    June 4, 2012

    Location:
    National Institutes of Health
    Natcher Auditorium, Building 45
    Bethesda, MD

    Sessions are open and free to NIH only, but capacity is limited. Register here.

    Symposium agenda (MS Word, 50K)

  • March 28, 2012

    NIHSeniorHealth.gov, the health and wellness website for older adults from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), has been expanded and updated. Jointly developed by the National Institute on Aging and the National Library of Medicine at NIH, NIHSeniorHealth now includes more menu choices, longer pages, and a new search feature that offers access to a wider range of senior-related health resources. Presented in an inviting, colorful, and easy-to-use format, this senior-friendly site features nearly 60 health topics, more than 150 open-captioned videos, as well as frequently asked questions, quizzes, and web training materials – all especially designed for boomers and their parents.

    Health information is one of the key topics that older adults search for online according to the Pew Research Center, and since its launch in 2003, NIHSeniorHealth has been an accessible source of reliable, up-to-date health information for adults 60 plus. Built to address cognitive and vision changes that commonly occur with age, NIHSeniorHealth includes senior-friendly features such as large type, simple navigation, and open-captioned videos that make the site especially easy for older adults to use.

    Current topics cover healthy aging, memory and mental health, medical care, caregiving, and safety issues. Visitors to the site can also learn about ways to prevent, diagnose, and treat aging-related diseases and conditions such as COPD, arthritis, cancer, and glaucoma. Coming soon are topics on prescription drug abuse, hip replacement surgery, and older driver safety.

    Visit the new NIHSeniorHealth at www.NIHSeniorHealth.gov. Be sure to sign up for free updates and forward a link to the site to older friends and relatives.

  • March 28, 2012

    The National Institute on Aging (NIA) Division of Behavioral and Social Research (BSR) is actively involved in the effort to fully understand and plan for the emerging costs of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). This teleconference featured presentations by Peter Neumann and Pei-Jung Lin (Tufts Medical Center) on “Costs and Cost-Effectiveness in Alzheimer’s Disease” based on modeling of Medicare claims data, and by Michael Hurd (RAND Corporation) on “The Costs of Dementia” based on data from the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) and The Aging, Demographics, and Memory Study (ADAMS), followed by general discussion. In addition to NIA staff from both BSR and the Division of Neuroscience, participants included staff from the Alzheimer’s Association, study collaborators, and other invited commentators.

  • March 22, 2012

    Men who smoked in middle age experienced more rapid cognitive decline with age than men who had never smoked, according to a recent article in Archives of General Psychiatry. Dr. Severine Sabia and colleagues examined data from the Whitehall II cohort study, a study of the social determinants of health among British civil servants, to find the association between smoking history and decline in multiple areas of cognition.

    Data were obtained from 5,099 men and 2,137 women, with an average age of 56 years at the first cognitive assessment. Smoking history was analyzed over 25 years and cognition was assessed over 10 years. Four areas were analyzed: memory, vocabulary, executive function, and global function, which was created using the average scores of all tests.

    Investigators reported three key findings. Men who were smokers at the time of the first cognitive test had more rapid cognitive decline than nonsmokers, and men who had only quit smoking in the past 10 years also showed greater cognitive decline. Men who stopped smoking more than 10 years ago, however, did not show more rapid cognitive decline than non-smokers.

    The investigators cautioned that data from this study could not be used to determine whether men displaying a more rapid cognitive decline would ultimately progress to dementia. They also noted that their results showed no association between smoking and cognitive decline in women.

    Reference: Sabia, S., et al., Impact of Smoking on Cognitive Decline in Early Old Age: The Whitehall II Cohort Study. Archives of General Psychiatry. Published online February 6, 2012.

  • March 22, 2012

    A new study in mice found that several days on a restricted diet helped in coping with the stress of surgery. The research, led by Dr. James Mitchell at the Harvard School of Public Health and supported in part by the NIA and the National Institute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases at the NIH, points the way toward potential strategies for reducing surgical risks in people.

    When blood flow to an area stops during surgery and is then restored, the returning blood supply can cause tissue damage and dangerous inflammation. This process, called ischemia reperfusion, can lead to stroke, heart attack, and other serious medical problems.

    To mimic the effects of ischemia reperfusion after surgery, researchers used microvascular clamps to temporarily stop blood flow in or out of the mice’s kidneys. Mice fed a protein-free diet for 6 days to 2 weeks before surgery were found to have better kidney function and a higher survival rate than animals fed a normal diet of equivalent calories. Limiting certain essential amino acids also resulted in improved survival in mice. In addition, scientists found the effects of limiting amino acids could be mimicked by halofuginone, a drug that acts on a particular protein pathway involved in helping cells detect amino acid depletion. This result raises the possibility that similar drugs might one day be used before surgery.

    Past studies have found that dietary restriction—limiting food intake without causing malnutrition—can boost the body’s resistance to the stress of ischemia reperfusion.

    Reference: Peng, W., et al. Surgical Stress Resistance Induced by Single Amino Acid Deprivation Requires Gcn2 in Mice. Science Translational Medicine. 2012 Jan 25; 4(118): p.118ra11.

  • June 13, 2012

    NIH published a notice and a funding opportunity for administrative supplements to ongoing awards. The announcement now allows Administrative Supplement requests to be submitted electronically when the parent award’s activity code has transitioned to electronic submission and provides detailed instruction on the two kinds of electronic submission possible. Administrative Supplements to ongoing awards whose activity code has not yet transitioned to electronic submission (largely program projects and center awards) must continue to submit on paper using the PHS 398 form. And, though electronic submission is possible for other awards, all awards may still submit via paper using the PHS 398 form. Administrative Supplements to promote diversity in health-related research and to support re-entry into biomedical and behavioral research careers have been published now.

    For research awards (e.g., R01, P01, U01, U19, R03, R15, R21, R33, R34, R37) the National Institute on Aging (NIA) continues to accept Administrative Supplement applications to cover expenses pertaining to emergencies, or unpredictable cost changes, or to exploit an unexpected opportunity that fits within the funded scope of the work, or to take advantage of a new technology, or to cover unanticipated institutional increases in salaries. Administrative Supplements to Center awards (P30, P50) are also available for similar purposes. Only under exceptional circumstances are Administrative Supplements available for other kinds of award (training, fellowships, career development, scientific-meetings, and education- and resource-related activities). However, NIA stresses that funding for Administrative Supplements is very limited and strongly encourages investigators to contact their Program Officer prior to submitting the Administrative Supplement to check on available funds for the award. Investigators seeking support for Administrative Supplements to promote diversity in health-related research or to promote re-entry into biomedical and behavioral research careers should contact Dr. Chyren Hunter, the NIA Training Officer.

  • March 2, 2012

    On November 29–30, 2011, BSR convened a workshop to explore harmonization strategies for behavioral, social science, and genetic research. The workshop brought together harmonization experts, principal investigators on harmonization projects, and staff from BSR, the National Human Genome Research Institute, and the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute on Child Health and Human Development. Workshop participants reviewed harmonization basics, existing harmonization efforts and issues, enabling tools and technologies, and the immediate needs of BSR, with a particular focus on phenotype harmonization and the informatics associated with cataloguing studies and data. Discussions from the workshop were intended to guide BSR as it defines the scope and priorities for building a unified harmonization strategy for promoting research and genetic studies within its portfolio.

    The workshop report is now available.

  • February 22, 2012

    Public input sought on detailed strategies for research, outreach, caregiver support

    The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) released today an ambitious draft National Plan to overcome Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias.  The draft National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease (http://aspe.hhs.gov/daltcp/napa/#DraftNatlPlan) offers specific action steps to accelerate research on treatment and prevention, as well as proposals for improving care, services, and support for patients, families, and caregivers. We look forward to receiving comments from the public on this proposed plan.

    As work on the draft plan continues, the Obama Administration announced that it is taking immediate action, making an additional $50 million available for cutting-edge Alzheimer’s research in fiscal year 2012. In addition, the President’s Fiscal Year 2013 Budget boosts funding for Alzheimer’s research by $80 million.  The Administration’s announcement also includes an additional $26 million in caregiver support, provider education, public awareness and improvements in data infrastructure in 2012 and 2013.

    HHS is seeking comments on the draft National Plan to fully engage the Alzheimer’s disease community, the public, states, local governments, community based service organizations, the private sector and others in its development.  Public comment will be accepted through March 30, 2012 and should be e-mailed to napa@hhs.gov.

    Creating and maintaining an integrated national plan to overcome Alzheimer’s disease is part of the National Alzheimer’s Project Act (NAPA) signed into law by President Barack Obama on January 4, 2011.

    The draft plan has five goals:

    1. Prevent and Effectively Treat Alzheimer’s Disease by 2025.
    2. Optimize Care Quality and Efficiency.
    3. Expand Supports for People with Alzheimer’s Disease and Their Families
    4. Enhance Public Awareness and Engagement.
    5. Track Progress and Drive Improvement.

    These five goals, the supporting strategies and action steps proposed in the plan reflects input from the Advisory Council on Alzheimer’s Research, Care, and Services (http://aspe.hhs.gov/daltcp/napa/#Council) and almost 100 public comments received on an initial framework for the draft.

    The Advisory Council was also created as part of the NAPA to help create and maintain a National Plan to overcome Alzheimer’s disease. It is a 27-member body made up of federal and state officials, along with representatives from private sector organizations involved in Alzheimer’s, including research, care, advocacy, and caregivers.

    As part of the public comment process, the draft National Plan will be reviewed and discussed at the next Advisory Council meeting March 14. For more information contact Helen Lamont at helen.lamont@hhs.gov.

  • January 18, 2012

    The neuropathology guidelines used since 1997 to diagnose Alzheimer’s disease at autopsy have been updated to reflect a deeper understanding of Alzheimer’s and other dementias. This will help pathologists characterize Alzheimer’s-related brain changes at death in people diagnosed with dementia and those who have not yet shown clinical symptoms. Further, the new guidelines recognize the importance of reporting pathology findings for all diseases that contribute to dementia—not just Alzheimer’s-related changes—and to correlate those findings with clinical symptoms. The effort was led by the NIA and the Alzheimer’s Association.

    Under the previous guidelines, a postmortem assessment was typically conducted in the brains of people diagnosed with clinical symptoms of dementia, and then only to determine whether Alzheimer’s pathology was an underlying cause of the dementia. The new criteria do not require a dementia diagnosis while the person was living, as studies suggest that Alzheimer’s develops years before it becomes clinically evident and research has revealed that the brains of cognitively normal people may have Alzheimer’s-related brain changes.

    The revised pathology criteria provide a framework for researchers and clinicians to:

    • Report in more specific detail the amount and location of Alzheimer’s-related pathology, such as abnormal brain proteins and lesions, even in people who appear free of dementia.
    • Identify other pathologies that may co-exist or be confused with Alzheimer’s disease and may contribute to cognitive decline.
    • In research settings, incorporate new tools—such as biomarkers and imaging—that may correlate with pathological changes in the brain.
    • Relate the pathology to the full continuum of Alzheimer’s disease, from the earliest “preclinical” stages, to mild cognitive impairment, to dementia due to Alzheimer’s pathology, as described in the recently updated Alzheimer’s diagnostic guidelines.

    References:

    Hyman BT, et al. National Institute on Aging–Alzheimer’s Association guidelines for the neuropathologic assessment of Alzheimer’s disease. Alzheimer’s & Dementia. 2012 Jan;8(1):1-13.

    Montine TJ, et al. National Institute on Aging–Alzheimer’s Association guidelines for the neuropathologic assessment of Alzheimer’s disease: a practical approach. Acta Neuropathol. 2012 Jan; 123(1):1-11. Epub 2011 Nov 20.

  • February 13, 2012

    NIA has posted its Funding Line Policy for 2012.

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