The Round 1 beta release public use files for the National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS) are now available at www.nhats.org.
The Round 1 beta release public use files for the National Health and Aging Trends Study (NHATS) are now available at www.nhats.org.
The National Institute on Aging and NIH are working with a team of federal agencies to encourage older adults to register as organ donors. Led by the Health Resources and Services Administration and launched during Older Americans Month in May 2012, the new campaign seeks to increase knowledge and interest about organ donation to people 50 and older, who comprise the majority of people receiving organ transplants.
Last year, 60 percent of the people receiving organ transplants were 50 and older. Today, more than 114,000 people of all ages are on the waiting list for an organ.
At the same time, more than 99 million people in the U.S. today are age 50 or older. But, more than 20 percent believe that they are too old to register as an organ donor.
The website www.organdonor.gov now features information on organ donation geared toward people 50+. The site attempts to dispel myths about organ donation with advancing age and provides answers to several frequently asked questions. At www.organdonor.gov, you can find specific instructions on how to register to be an organ donor in your state. You can also register for organ donation when you renew your driver’s license.
“Age doesn’t make you ineligible to sign up, nor do you have to be in perfect health,” says NIA Deputy Director Marie A. Bernard, M.D. “Your ability to donate is determined by a doctor at the time of death.
“More people today are living healthier lives and know about the importance of living and eating well and exercising,” Dr. Bernard continues. “That means we’re in better shape than ever. We’re also able to be donors and recipients at later ages than anyone might have imagined. The NIA joins the effort to encourage people 50 and older to think about organ donation and the power such a gift has to save lives and health of family, friends, and neighbors.”
The Spring-Summer issue of Links: Minority Research & Training is now available! With this issue, Links has gone green, becoming an online-only publication. Enjoy the same great content, including findings from health disparities research, profiles of current and emerging leaders in the field, and highlights from NIA training programs, and also look for new features—videos!—in upcoming issues.
The Spring-Summer issue includes:
New to Links? The twice-yearly newsletter is part of NIA’s initiative to address health disparities and support scientists representing underserved populations. Subscribing is easy. We also invite you to visit NIA’s Minority Aging and Health Disparities web page, where you’ll find information about the Health Disparities Research Persons Network, training opportunities, and more.
The National Institutes of Health is a partner in the new Next Avenue, a national public media project launched May 14, 2012, by PBS, focused on the growing 50+ population. NIH is collaborating with Next Avenue to share health information with this older audience, and the National Institute on Aging (NIA) is coordinating NIH’s participation in this effort.
Next Avenue centers on an extensive website — www.nextavenue.org. Its “channels” focus on topic areas including health and wellness, money and security, caregiving, work and purpose, and living and learning. The site also includes information and perspectives with articles and blogs written by Next Avenue staff journalists and guest contributors.
NIH is a primary content partner for health information on the site. “We are excited to be working with public television on Next Avenue,” said NIA Director Richard J. Hodes, M.D. “It is important that the free, evidence-based health and wellness information from NIA and other NIH institutes, much of it based on the research we support and conduct on behalf of the public, is offered to as broad an audience as possible.”
Next Avenue was developed and is led by Twin Cities Public Television (tpt).
The Alzheimer’s Disease Research Summit 2012: Path to Treatment and Prevention, held May 14-15, 2012, brought together leading experts on Alzheimer’s disease and other complex diseases to identify research priorities and strategies needed to accelerate the development of successful therapies. The Summit was attended by an international group of some 500 researchers, clinicians and members of the broader Alzheimer’s community who contributed actively to the Summit process through extensive input and discussion during the course of the meeting. The topics that were discussed included the current understanding of this complex disorder, the need for more basic research into the pathobiology of Alzheimer’s disease, existing models and approaches to drug development, and new ideas to speed development of effective interventions for treatment and prevention.
The recommendations from the Summit, organized by a subgroup of the 57 speakers and panelists and based on the full Summit discussions, will help guide both the public and private sectors toward meeting research goals set forth in the National Plan to Address Alzheimer's Disease, a national strategy announced at the Summit by Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius to accelerate research and improve clinical care and services.
Specifically, the Summit agenda and the initial recommendations presented here outline a blueprint for an integrated, multidisciplinary research agenda. The recommendations focus on a spectrum of basic discovery and translational research activities critical to the development of disease-modifying as well as symptomatic therapies across the disease continuum for the cognitive as well as neuropsychiatric symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease, and they identify the types of infrastructures, resources, and new public private partnerships needed to successfully implement this translational agenda.
Several overarching and transformative concepts were identified by Summit participants as critical to achieving success in Alzheimer’s disease therapy development, and these emerged repeatedly among the themes brought forward by the different workgroups:
Specific recommendations are presented here:
View Summit Videocast
To view the presentations and discussions of the Summit, which was hosted by the National Institutes of Health and the Department of Health and Human Services, with support from the private sector through the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, go to the links below:
"The Weight of the Nation" documentary series and public awareness campaign by the cable network HBO, launching this week, features National Institutes of Health research showing how obesity affects the country's health and how interventions can turn the tide against obesity and its complications.
The network, in consultation with NIH and other major health organizations, developed four documentaries focused on obesity. The project also includes a three-part HBO Family series for kids, 12 short features, a social media campaign, and a nationwide community-based campaign to mobilize action to move the country to a healthier weight.
The films feature several NIH-funded clinical studies that have formed the basis of scientific evidence on the causes and consequences of being overweight or obese, including the Diabetes Prevention Program (DPP), Coronary Artery Risk Development in Young Adults (CARDIA) study, and Bogalusa Heart Study. The DPP found that even moderate weight loss can help prevent type 2 diabetes. The CARDIA study measures changes in coronary heart disease risk factors. The Bogalusa Heart Study examines how cardiovascular disease develops over time.
“If we don't take the obesity epidemic seriously as individuals and as a nation, we will pay a serious price,” said NIH Director Francis S. Collins, M.D., Ph.D., who appears in all of the main documentaries in the series. “It's going to take diverse and rigorous research to understand the causes of obesity and to identify interventions that work in the real world. The results from federally funded research, as seen in these documentaries, can help to prevent and treat obesity and its complications.” More »
For more information, go to NIH and the Weight of the Nation.
The hippocampus, a brain region important to learning and memory, gradually loses volume as part of the normal aging process. This loss is significantly accelerated in older people with Alzheimer’s disease, especially if they have vascular problems or diabetes. Now, an international team of researchers has identified four genes that may play a role in the age-related decline of hippocampal volume, a finding that may provide insight to risk for cognitive decline and Alzheimer’s disease. Conducted in part by NIA-funded investigators, the study appeared online April 15, 2012, in Nature Genetics.
The findings result from the combined analyses of several genome-wide association studies (GWAS) conducted in the U.S., Canada, Europe and Australia involving thousands of participants with and without Alzheimer’s disease. GWAS analyze DNA to identify specific genetic variations associated with particular diseases. The researchers located four gene risk factors on chromosome 12 that may play a role in age-related hippocampal decline.
The genes implicated in the findings are involved in cell death, brain development and plasticity, oxidative stress and enzymes targeted by diabetes medications—all of which may contribute to the brain’s vulnerability to Alzheimer’s. While we need to learn more about the complex interplay between genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease and other factors that influence its onset and progression, these genes findings on age-related declines in brain volume could lead to new approaches for the devastating hippocampal declines wrought by the disorder.
Reference: Bis JC, et al. Common variants at 12q14 and12q24 are associated with hippocampal volume. Nature Genetics. doi:10.1038/ng.2237
Plaques made up of abnormal deposits of beta-amyloid protein are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. The toxic buildup begins when the beta-secretase enzyme (BACE), working in concert with a partner enzyme, snips a small fragment of amyloid precursor protein (APP) and releases beta-amyloid from the cell membrane of neurons. The beta-amyloid can then gradually clump together to form the well-known plaques that may cause damage to brain cells. Now a new study primarily funded by NIA appearing in the April 10, 2012, issue of Nature Communications has revealed a previously unknown interaction between BACE and a large APP fragment called sAPPalpha that blocked the buildup of plaques in mice. The novel findings may lead to new therapeutic targets for Alzheimer’s researchers.
Scientists at the University of South Florida, Tampa, discovered that the sAPPalpha fragment, which is released from neurons at synapses (the tiny gap between neurons across which neurotransmitters travel during communication), interfered with BACE activities in mouse models with Alzheimer’s pathology. Increased levels of sAPPalpha blocked the ability of BACE to snip the APP protein and reduced levels of amyloid plaque buildup in the brains of the mice. Because lower than normal sAPPalpha levels are often found in people with Alzheimer’s, restoring or enhancing these levels may be one avenue to investigate for slowing onset or progression of the disorder.
Reference: Obregon D, et al. Soluble amyloid precursor protein-α modulates β-secretase activity and amyloid-β generation. Nature Communications. 2012 Apr 10;3:777. doi: 10.1038/ncomms1781.
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.
June 4, 2012
National Institutes of Health
Natcher Auditorium, Building 45
Sessions are open and free to NIH only, but capacity is limited. Register here.
Symposium agenda (MS Word, 50K)
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.