Announcements

  • June 28, 2013

    Cognitively normal older adults with evidence of early brain changes typical of Alzheimer’s disease fell more often than did their peers without these brain changes, a new study reported online in Neurology. The results suggest that declines in mobility may precede the symptoms of cognitive decline found in Alzheimer’s disease.

    Investigators studied 125 volunteers age 65 and older at the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center at Washington University in St. Louis, to determine how often they fell over the course of 1 year. The participants, mostly white women, recorded their falls in a calendar-journal they mailed monthly to the researchers. Participants reported a total of 154 falls, most of which occurred while walking; the number of falls per person ranged from 0 to 12.

    Participants also underwent brain imaging to detect the protein amyloid in the brain and a lumbar puncture to look for certain proteins in cerebrospinal fluid—biomarkers associated with preclinical Alzheimer’s disease. After adjusting for differences in the ability to perform everyday activities, the researchers found that participants with biomarkers indicating greater risk for Alzheimer’s were more likely to fall and to fall sooner, compared with those with less biomarker evidence.

    The results of the study, led by Dr. Susan L. Stark, extend earlier research findings that movement changes precede cognitive changes in people with very early signs of Alzheimer’s or mild cognitive impairment. More research is needed to better understand how falls may help predict risk for and signal onset of Alzheimer’s disease.

    Reference: Stark SL, et al. Preclinical Alzheimer’s disease and risk for falls. Neurology, Published online June 26, 2013. doi:10.1212/WNL.0b013e31829d87aa

  • June 27, 2013

    Caring for a person with Alzheimer’s disease can be a tough job with many demands and challenges. To help, the Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center offers more than 25 tip sheets—many now available for mobile devices in .epub and .mobi (Kindle) formats.

    The popular tip sheets offer brief, easy-to-understand information on a range of issues, from bathing and driving to disaster preparedness and personality changes. They can help caregivers of people at any stage of the disease—mild, moderate, or severe.

    Users of tablets, smartphones, and e-readers with an e-book app can now view and download select tip sheets for their mobile devices from the ADEAR website at www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers/topics/caregiving. Go to “Caregiving Tip Sheets and Resource Lists” to see the topics and available formats.

    For more Alzheimer’s disease resources, visit www.nia.nih.gov/alzheimers, or contact the ADEAR Center at 1-800-438-4380 (toll-free) or adear@nia.nih.gov. The ADEAR Center is a service of the National Institute on Aging, part of the National Institutes of Health.

  • June 26, 2013

    The NIA views support for research career development and pre and postdoctoral fellowship training as a priority. The availability of funds to support career development (K) and fellowship training (F, T, and NRSA) awards is critical to the advancement of the next cadre of scientists conducting research on aging and age-related disorders.

    This year’s sequester budget cut provided us with a real dilemma: do we fund fewer new awards or do we cut the funding of researchers with existing awards? Chyren Hunter, Deputy Director and Training Officer in NIA's Division of Extramural Activities, describes the decisions made.

    Read the full blog post: Career development awards and fellowships: of paylines and priorities

  • June 20, 2013

    The report from the meeting entitled Network On Reversibility: Mid-Life Reversibility Of Early Established Biobehavioral Risk Factors is now available on the BSR website under Workshop reports.

  • June 15, 2013

    Brain imaging and spinal-fluid testing can help predict which cognitively normal older people will develop Alzheimer’s disease as many as 7.5 years before symptoms appear, according to a new study supported in part by the NIA. The findings confirm the power of biomarkers as predictors of disease risk in the earliest, symptom-free stages of Alzheimer’s disease. These biomarkers may prove to be valuable tools in testing promising treatments in future studies.

    While not typically used in clinical practice, investigators worldwide are studying, refining, and standardizing biomarkers aimed at identifying who is at risk for developing Alzheimer’s, the most common form of dementia in older adults. The biomarkers in this study, published May 7 in Neurology, included positron emission tomography (PET) scans of the brain to detect deposits of the telltale protein beta-amyloid, as well as levels of beta-amyloid and another protein, tau, found in cerebrospinal fluid.

    The research team, at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, tracked the cognition of 201 dementia-free volunteers, ages 45 to 88, at the school’s Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. The researchers found that abnormal levels of biomarkers identified in PET scans and lumbar punctures could predict who would develop cognitive impairment among the volunteers who were followed for an average of 3.7 years, but in some cases as long as 7.5 years.

    Some 28 volunteers (14 percent) of the group developed memory loss and other signs of cognitive impairment. Abnormal levels of all biomarkers predicted the development of Alzheimer’s dementia equally well, the study found. Older participants, men, and African Americans who developed dementia did so faster than those who were younger, female, and white, the researchers report. In a few cases, participants with abnormal biomarker levels remained cognitively normal, perhaps because of “cognitive reserve,” the ability of some brains to cope with or stave off decline.

    Reference: Roe CM, et al. Amyloid imaging and CSF biomarkers in predicting cognitive impairment up to 7.5 years later. Neurology 2013;80(19):1784-91.

  • June 19, 2013

    Subject: Dr. Owen Wolkowitz July 11 at the GeroScience Interest Group (GSIG) summer seminar

    When: Thursday, July 11, 2013, 12:00 PM – 1:00 PM

    Where: Lipsett Amphitheater, Building 10, NIH

    Title: "Getting Old Before Our Time: Psychiatric Illness and Accelerated Cell Aging"

    The Trans-NIH GeroScience Interest Group (GSIG) cordially invites you to its summer seminar, featuring Dr. Owen Wolkowitz. Dr. Wolkowitz is a Professor of Psychiatry at the University of California, San Francisco and Director of the Psychopharmacology Assessment Clinic. His teaching, clinical work and research are in the areas of stress, depression, and anxiety disorders. His interests include the effects of stress and stress hormones on the brain and behavior, as well as the identification of mechanisms underlying depression, which may lead to the discovery of new treatments. Dr. Wolkowitz and colleagues have developed a detailed model of mechanistic pathways leading from stress to psychiatric illness, representing effects of steroid and neurosteroid hormones, oxidative stress, neurotrophic factors, inflammatory responses, changes in telomeres and telomerase and genetic polymorphisms. They are now conducting additional studies to test this model and to explore the cumulative neuronal damage in the hippocampus.

    The GeroScience Interest Group (GSIG) was formed to enhance opportunities for discussion of the intersection between the biology of aging and the biology of disease and conditions that are of interest across ICs. It is focused on basic biology, but with a longer view towards translation. If you are interested in learning more, please visit the GSIG web site (http://sigs.nih.gov/geroscience/Pages/default.aspx).

    The seminar will be videocast at http://videocast.nih.gov/ and archived in the GSIG web site.

    Sign Language Interpreters will be provided. Individuals with disabilities who need reasonable accommodation to participate in this event should contact Dr. Jovier Evans at jevans1@mail.nih.gov or at 301/443-1369 or Dr. Ron Kohanski at kohanskir@mail.nih.gov or at 301.496.6402.

  • June 19, 2013

    A new blog post describes an NIA-funded study on the economic costs of caring for people with dementia, and research opportunities on this topic. The NIA program officer for the grant writes about why the new study drew so much attention. He details the dataset used, a resource that is also available to other scientists for secondary analyses. He also points to an open funding opportunity on estimating dementia care costs that might be of interest to researchers seeking funding.

    Read the full blog post: Estimating economic costs of dementia

  • June 18, 2013

    The National Institutes of Health has awarded $12.7 million to match nine academic research groups with a selection of pharmaceutical industry compounds to explore new treatments for patients. The treatments, in eight disease areas, include Alzheimer's disease. The project, part of the collaborative pilot initiative called Discovering New Therapeutic Uses for Existing Molecules, will explore whether an investigational drug that blocks Fyn kinase, a type of protein, safely stops Alzheimer’s disease progression in humans.

  • June 17, 2013

    The Patient-Centered Outcomes Research Institute (PCORI) June 13 announced the formation with NIA of the “Falls Injuries Prevention Partnership,” to fund and conduct a major intervention study aimed at preventing injuries from falls in older adults. PCORI plans to commit up to $30 million to this effort; NIA will work with PCORI stakeholders in design and management of the clinical trial.

    A Request for Information (RFI), posted on the NIA website, seeks initial input from those interested in preventing injurious falls in older people, including organizations, agencies, services providers, health care professionals, caregivers, and older individuals. NIA and PCORI will develop a Funding Opportunity Announcement to be issued this summer. More information on the partnership is available on the PCORI web site.

  • June 13, 2013

    The June 2013 issue of Spotlight on Aging Research: News and Notes from the National Institute on Aging at NIH is now available!

    In the latest issue of this e-newsletter:

    • Get funding news from NIA Director Dr. Richard Hodes, read research highlights, and see a list of newly funded grants
    • Check out NIA’s new blog for the research community
    • Read about exciting arts and aging research initiatives
    • Catch up on recent Alzheimer’s activities under the National Alzheimer’s Project Act
    • Learn about global population-aging research in an in-depth interview with Dr. Richard Suzman
    • Find out about an upcoming geroscience conference on healthspan and chronic disease
    • Browse more NIA happenings and news!

    Want to get future issues of Spotlight on Aging Research and other NIA news by e-mail or Twitter? Choose your interests and sign up today!

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