Announcements

  • June 3, 2014

    Resveratrol, a compound found in nuts, grapes, and wine, may protect against certain cardiovascular problems, according to an NIA study in nonhuman primates. Specifically, researchers found resveratrol prevented arterial stiffening and inflammation in monkeys on a high fat, high sugar diet. It also reduced fatty build up and calcification of the arteries, a condition known as atherosclerosis. These issues are common among older adults.

    Positive effects of resveratrol were most profound after a year of supplementation. The compound did not, however, prevent all negative effects associated with a high fat, high sugar diet. For instance, it did not affect blood pressure or “bad” cholesterol (low density lipoprotein, LDL) nor did it prevent increase in body weight.

    Researchers evaluated resveratrol’s effects on arterial stiffness using a standard clinical test called pulse wave velocity (PWV). It measures how quickly blood can flow through the arteries from the heart to the rest of the body. Stiffer arteries create quicker waves of motion. Increased PWV commonly leads to high blood pressure, and, in humans, predicts an increased risk of developing (and death from) heart disease.

    Researchers emphasize that their results are not immediately translatable to humans. Multiple studies on resveratrol in animal models, however, have presented ample evidence to support the next phase of investigation, a human study. NIA will be recruiting for a clinical trial (NCT01842399), starting in fall 2014, to test whether resveratrol may support heart health in older people. To learn more about the study and how to participate, visit clinicaltrials.gov.

    Reference: Mattison et al., Resveratrol Prevents High Fat/Sucrose Diet-Induced Central Arterial Wall Inflammation and Stiffening in Nonhuman Primates, Cell Metabolism (2014), http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.cmet.2014.04.018

  • June 2, 2014

    Science of Behavior Change: Harnessing Neuroplasticity for Behavior Change, Bethesda MD – September 23-24, 2013

    This NIA-administered Common Fund meeting explored the value of identifying neurobiological targets and harnessing neuroplasticity in the service of behavior change. (Contacts: Dr. Jonathan W. King and Dr. Lisbeth Nielsen)

    Network on Reversibility Meeting, London, UK – October 15-16, 2013

    This exploratory meeting was coordinated by Dr. David Reiss, BSR IPA, in conjunction with researchers at the UK Economic and Social Research Council. (NIA staff could not participate because of the government shutdown.) Meeting participants explored how existing datasets can be used to identify pathways linking early social adversity to late-life health outcomes, and to accelerate understanding of the malleability of risk and the effects of interventions. (Contact Dr. Lis Nielsen)

    Leukocyte Function/Significance in the Aging Host, Newport, RI – October 22, 2013

    Two speakers from the Division of Aging Biology gave presentations at this DAB-sponsored symposium at the 46th Annual Meeting of the Society for Leukocyte Biology. (Contact: Dr. Rebecca Fuldner)

    The 10th Annual Nathan W. Shock Symposium, Baltimore, MD – November 14, 2013

    The symposium, “Reubin Andres: The Man, His Science, and His Legacy,” was held at the Asthma and Allergy Center and the Biomedical Research Center, on the Johns Hopkins Bayview Campus. Cosponsored by NIA and the Nathan W. and Margaret T. Shock Aging Research Foundation, the symposium honored the life of Reubin Andres and featured presentations by colleagues and students of Dr. Andres, including Dr. Jack Rowe, Columbia University; Dr. Edward Lakatta, NIA; Dr. Jordan Tobin, NIA retired; Dr. Mitch Harman, Phoenix VA Health Care System; Dr. Dariush Elahi, University of Pennsylvania; Dr. Andrew Goldberg, University of Maryland; and Dr. John Sorkin, University of Maryland. (Contact: Dr. Luigi Ferrucci)

    Institute of Medicine Workshop on Hearing Loss and Healthy Aging, Washington, DC – January 13-14, 2014

    NIA and the National Institute of Deafness and Communication Disorders cosponsored this Institute of Medicine workshop. The impact of hearing loss on healthy aging in older adults has largely not been considered despite hearing loss being independently associated with cognitive and physical functional decline, an increased risk of developing dementia, mortality, and increased rates of hospitalization and health care utilization. The workshop convened stakeholders from aging, hearing, communication, and the general public to discuss the public health significance of hearing loss and the relationship between hearing loss and healthy aging. It also examined the current hearing rehabilitation strategies and future strategies for innovative models of care. (Contact Dr. Wen Chen)

    Seminar on Health Disparities in Boys and Men: Increasing Knowledge to Build Strategies for Health Equity, Bethesda, MD – January 23, 2014

    NIA’s Office of Special Populations collaborated with the National Institute on Drug Abuse to convene a seminar highlighting research innovations and translational opportunities impacting the healthy aging of boys and men at risk for disproportionate health outcomes. The workshop could be the first in a series to highlight important determinants of healthy aging among boys and men from health disparities populations. (Contact: Dr. Carl V. Hill)

    Public Health Dimensions of Cognitive Aging Study, Washington, DC – February 3, 2014

    The first meeting to launch this Institute of Medicine study, cosponsored by NIA, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, AARP, and the McKnight Brain Research Foundation, was held at the National Academy of Sciences. The meeting featured members of the study committee and invited experts. Participants delivered the charge to committee members for exploration of gaps and opportunities to move research on age-related cognitive decline into the public health arena. (Contact Dr. Molly Wagster)

    Delirium in Older Adults: Finding Order in the Disorder, Bethesda, MD – February 9-11, 2014

    The American Geriatrics Society and NIA, with cosponsorship from the John A. Hartford Foundation, held the first conference in the Bench-to-Bedside conference series on delirium. The 2½ day conference’s primary focus was to explore translational opportunities whereby studies of potential delirium mechanisms could help inform future research, clinical prevention, and management. (Contact Dr. Molly Wagster)

    Advances in Biodemography: Cross-Species Comparisons of Social Environments, Social Behaviors, and their Effects on Health and Longevity, Washington, DC – April 8-9, 2014

    NIA partnered with the National Academy of Sciences Committee on Population to conduct a workshop to promote and advance the field of biodemography to include cross-species comparisons of social environments; social behaviors; and their effects on health, longevity, and life histories. (Contact: Dr. John Phillips)

    Public Health Dimensions of Cognitive Aging Study (Institute of Medicine) First Public Workshop, Washington, DC – April 10-11, 2014

    A public workshop for this Institute of Medicine study was held at the National Academy of Sciences and featured invited speakers on the definition of cognitive aging, trajectories of cognitive aging, epidemiology and surveillance, and risk factors for cognitive decline. The study is cosponsored by NIA, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, AARP, the Retirement Research Foundation, and the McKnight Brain Research Foundation. (Contacts: Dr. Molly Wagster and Dr. Jonathan King)

    Advances in Affective Science of Aging: New Directions and Interdisciplinary Research Opportunities, Bethesda MD – April 24, 2014

    This special pre-conference workshop was held in conjunction with the inaugural conference of the Society for Affective Science. Discussions concerned methodological and conceptual issues involved in conducting lifespan research in affective science relevant to the aging population in four key areas: motivation and self-regulation; well-being measurement and analysis; stress and affect; and affective influences on decision-making. The goal was to stimulate innovative and creative research ideas to foster collaborative relationships and inspire younger researchers to take a lifespan approach to affective science questions. (Contact: Dr. Lis Nielsen)

    Integrating Randomized Control Trials and Observational Data, Washington, DC – April 25, 2014

    NIA and the National Academies of Science Committee on National Statistics organized a meeting to learn about methods for combining data from clinical trials and observational studies that could potentially offer more definitive analyses than either method alone. NIA sought expert input on how to maximize their unique collection of assets and methods, as well as research directions for social and behavioral research in aging. (Contact Dr. John Phillips)

    B Cell Regulation of Immunity in Old Age, Pittsburgh, PA – May 4, 2014

    The Division of Aging Biology sponsored a symposium at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Immunology. Four speakers gave presentations at the symposium. (Contact: Dr. Rebecca Fuldner)

  • June 2, 2014
    N I A director Richard J. Hodes

    NIA Director Richard J. Hodes discusses NIA's budget increase of $130 million for FY 2014.

    Welcome to this issue of Spotlight on Aging ResearchSOAR, our periodic update on NIA policies, programs, and events. This issue features a conversation with Kathie Reed, director of our Office of Planning, Analysis, and Evaluation, along with articles on research on pain in older people and recruiting older adults for clinical trials, summaries of recent NIA-funded research, and happenings around NIA.

    In late January, we received our budget for fiscal year 2014, which is $130 million more than last year. NIA is pleased to have this 12.5 percent increase, which is a larger percentage increase than that of the overall increase for NIH funding. It means there will be more funding for aging research, including a focus on Alzheimer’s disease.

    The new funding in aging allows us a bit more flexibility, one immediate benefit being the ability to continue to support our biological resources that so many of you rely on for your research.

    The President and the Congress have expressed an interest in applying additional funds to Alzheimer’s research, and this new budget allows us to do so. About $100 million will be directed toward that effort. We appreciate that the budget legislation recognized the importance of the disease and of our intensified efforts to fight it. The additional money will support both new and competing research awards, as well as continued funding of ongoing high-priority research.

    This year’s appropriation has helped bring us some way back from the drastic cuts of last year’s sequestration. The 5.5 percent cuts that were made to noncompeting renewal grants will not have to be made in FY 2014, but the FY 2013 cuts will not be restored. We have been able to maintain our paylines at the same levels as last year.

    Despite the welcome and generous increases this year, it is still sobering to note that we remain far from recovering the buying power that we had several years ago. Stagnant budgets affected by inflation have eroded our ability to fund meritorious research by 18 percent over the past decade.

    As we adjust to this new reality of constrained budgets and lower paylines, we must maintain our focus on the needs of the older population we serve. As the number of older people continues to grow—in this country and around the world—we will continue to look for the ways in which research can help us all live longer and healthier lives.

    Richard J. Hodes, M.D.
    Director
    National Institute on Aging

  • May 30, 2014

    The Spring 2014 issue of Connections, the e-newsletter from NIA’s Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center, is now available!

    In the latest issue:

    • Learn about Recruiting Older Adults into Research (ROAR), a new push to encourage participation in Alzheimer’s and other clinical trials and studies.
    • Read about NIA and other Alzheimer’s research in Health Affairs, presented at a forum highlighting the journal’s April issue.
    • Find out what the HHS Secretary said about the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease.
    • Check out the latest NIA-funded research findings related to Alzheimer’s.
    • Browse a list of clinical trials now recruiting.

    Want to get future issues of Connections and other Alzheimer’s and aging research news by e-mail? Sign up today! And follow us on Twitter @Alzheimers_NIH.

  • May 28, 2014

    Developmental Psychology, Special issue on Conscientiousness and Health Aging, 2014 is now available.

  • May 28, 2014

    Public data from the 2012 American Time Use Survey Well-Being Module (WBM) data files and re-release of the 2010 WBM Activity file is now available. All data files and supporting documentation are available at http://www.bls.gov/tus/wbdatafiles.htm.

    NIA continues to encourage investigator-initiated applications relevant to the themes outlined in the (expired) RFA-AG-11-003 Subjective Well-being: Advances in Measurement and Applications to Aging. Please use the R01 or R03 Parent Program Announcements for your proposals.

  • May 22, 2014

    Official mortality figures may have substantially underreported deaths due to Alzheimer’s disease in 2010 show two recent studies supported in part by NIA. Underreporting of Alzheimer’s as a cause of death on death certificates is a well-known phenomenon. Some people with the disease never receive a diagnosis. Many others have dementia-related conditions, such as aspiration pneumonia, listed as the primary cause of death while the underlying cause, Alzheimer’s, is never reported.

    When a person dies, the cause or causes of death are listed on death certificates, typically by a physician, and filed with the state’s Bureau of Vital Statistics. This information is then forwarded to the National Center for Health Statistics of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which compiles and reports the totals each year as the official U.S. mortality figures and leading causes of death. The CDC’s tally of 83,494 Alzheimer’s deaths in 2010, based on death certificates, ranks the disease as the sixth leading cause of death.

    Two groups of investigators at Rush University, Chicago, wanted to examine this phenomenon to gain a clearer picture of the full burden of Alzheimer’s disease now and in the decades to come. While their estimates of deaths due to Alzheimer’s in 2010 vary slightly, both groups determined that Alzheimer’s-related mortality rates were several times higher than the official figure.

    In one study, the researchers combined data from the Chicago Health and Aging Project (CHAP) with U.S. census data to estimate the number of deaths of older Americans with Alzheimer’s (Weuve et al., 2014). In a random sample of 1,913 CHAP participants age 65 and older, 990 people died over the course of 6 years. Data from this sample were used to calculate national Alzheimer’s mortality rates.

    These findings, reported in the March 2014 issue of Alzheimer’s and Dementia, showed that an estimated 600,000 people age 65 and older with Alzheimer’s died in 2010. The researchers estimate that this number will rise to 900,000 in 2030 and to 1.6 million by 2050. This is an increase from 32 percent of deaths in people age 65 and older attributed to Alzheimer’s in 2010 to an estimated 43 percent in this population in 2050.

    The second study, published online on March 5, 2014, in Neurology, found that the number of deaths due to Alzheimer’s disease in people 75 and older could be six times higher than the official count (James et al., 2014). Researchers’ estimate of 503,400 deaths due to Alzheimer’s in 2010 among people in that age group would have made the disease the third leading cause of death in 2010, behind heart disease and cancer.

    Researchers followed 2,566 participants in the ongoing Religious Orders Study and the Rush Memory and Aging Study for 8 years. All participants, age 65 and older, were cognitively normal when they entered the studies. Over the course of the research, 22 percent of the volunteers developed Alzheimer’s dementia. About 72 percent of the people with Alzheimer’s disease died during that timeframe, compared with 34 percent of those who remained symptom-free. Based on autopsy findings, the researchers concluded that death certificates do not reflect the large number of Alzheimer’s-related deaths.

    References

    Weuve J, et al. Deaths in the United States among persons with Alzheimer’s disease (2010–2050). Alzheimer’s & Dementia. 2014;10:e40-46.

    James BD, et al. Contribution of Alzheimer’s disease to mortality in the United States. Neurology. 2014 March; 82(12): 1045-50.

  • May 22, 2014

    Cartoon of four people in conversation.

    Most government funding agencies, including the NIH, have special pots of money reserved for small businesses. Dr. M-D Kerns, Small Business Program Coordinator in the NIA Division of Extramural Activities, has a new blog post about this funding. "If you’ve ever thought about spinning off some of your research into a product or service for sale," he explains, "this support could be for you. Or, if you would like to explore whether some of your ideas could be commercialized, there’s early phase exploratory funding for that kind of investigation."

    Read the full blog post: Consider small business funding

    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.

  • May 20, 2014

    The Advisory Council of the National Institute on Aging is holding one of its thrice yearly meetings on Wednesday, May 21, 2014 from 8:00 a.m. EDT until 12:45 p.m EDT or until all business is completed. Please tune in to watch the live videocast.

    This videocast is a new service we are offering to enhance your access to NIA and our decision-making process about grants and funding. The agenda and other meeting materials are also available.

  • May 16, 2014

    Resveratrol, a compound in red wine, grapes, and nuts, has been the focus of many studies for its effects on aging and disease. Researchers have found it to improve the health (and in some cases, longevity) of animals, including mice and nonhuman primates. However, in a study published online by JAMA Internal Medicine on May 12, 2014, researchers report that dietary resveratrol did not provide such effects in a group of community-dwelling, older people in Italy.

    Results are based on data collected from 1998 to 2009, as part of the Invecchiare in Chianti Study (“Aging in the Chianti Region”). The team of scientists from America and Italy, including NIA Scientific Director Dr. Luigi Ferrucci, found that resveratrol in the diet was not associated with a reduced incidence of cardiovascular disease, cancer, and inflammation, nor was it associated with longevity.

    In the paper, researchers note the interest in resveratrol supplementation in the U.S. and elsewhere, and they caution against use of such supplements based on animal data thus far. The paper states there is “limited and conflicting human clinical data demonstrating any metabolic benefits of resveratrol, and there is no data concerning its safety in high doses or for long-term supplementation in older people, who often have multiple comorbidities for which they are taking multiple medications.”

    The study authors suggest that more research with a larger group of participants is needed to determine whether resveratrol could have benefits in people, especially those who are overweight with health issues like diabetes.

    Reference: Semba, R.D., et al. Resveratrol Levels Unrelated to All-Cause Mortality in Older Community-Dwelling Adults. JAMA Internal Medicine. Published online May 12, 2014. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.1582.

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