Announcements

  • February 23, 2015

    Researchers at UCLA’s David Geffen School of Medicine recently published the first study that provides definitive evidence that people with Down syndrome age at a faster rate. In the Feb. 9, 2015, online issue of Aging Cell, researchers led by Dr. Steve Horvath reported that they have applied an “epigenetic clock” developed for normal aging to tissues from people with Down syndrome.

    Down syndrome is not only associated with intellectual disability, but also with a group of clinical symptoms of accelerated aging. These include premature wrinkling and grey hair, early menopause, reduced immune function, and Alzheimer’s disease. Until now, it has not been clear whether these symptoms are actually due to accelerated aging processes in Down syndrome.

    The research team analyzed brain, blood, and buccal (cheek) tissue samples from up to 87 people with Down syndrome and calculated their epigenetic clock measure from patterns of DNA methylation. They found that Down syndrome did accelerate this measure of aging in all individuals, but that different types of tissue aged at different rates. For example, brain tissue shows a greater age acceleration effect (11 years) than blood (about 4 years). No sign of accelerated aging was seen in the buccal tissue.

    Reference: Horvath S, et al. Accelerated epigenetic aging in Down syndrome. Aging Cell. 2015 Feb 9. doi: 10.1111/acel.12325. [Epub ahead of print]

  • February 18, 2015

    Cartoon of four people in conversation.

    This is an extremely difficult time in aging research. Dr. Richard J. Hodes, NIA director, describes some of the challenges that lie ahead, as well as what the next fiscal year will bring. “While the scientific and fiscal challenges are very real, it is still an exciting time to be in aging and Alzheimer’s research,” writes Dr. Hodes.

    See the full blog post: Supporting Aging Research in Challenging Times

    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.

  • February 13, 2015

    The National Institute on Aging (NIA), a major research component of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), is seeking exceptional candidates for the position of Director, Division of Neuroscience (DN). The Director is responsible for planning, directing and evaluating extramural and collaborative research and training in the three DN branches: Neurobiology of Aging, Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience, and Dementias of Aging. The NIA is the lead NIH Institute in Alzheimer’s disease research and the Dementias Branch directs all aspects of research on Alzheimer’s disease from basic neuroscience to translational research and clinical trials of new therapeutic interventions. 

    The Director of DN is responsible for collaborating with other NIA Divisions, NIH Institutes and Centers and other Federal agencies in the coordination and support of relevant scientific activities. This includes working with the NIA’s Office of Communications and Public Liaison in developing material for distribution to Congress, scientists and the public.  In addition, the Director will maintain liaisons with leading medical and scientific directors, private organizations, and professional societies and with leading researchers and clinicians in research on normal and abnormal brain aging. The Director will also be responsible for liaising with various industry groups as a participant, panelist and/or spokesperson as may be required from time to time. The ideal candidate should be comfortable with speaking publicly, to the news media (print and broadcast) and to various groups of influencers about the activities of the NIA, the current state of the science, research investments and projects and the role of the NIA in helping to shape them.

    Applicants must possess an M.D. and/or Ph.D., or equivalent degree in the biomedical sciences, with broad senior-level experience in neurosciences and aging. They should be known and respected within their profession, both nationally and internationally,as distinguished individuals of outstanding scientific competence and should demonstrate through their experience that they have provided oversight for the quality, scientific productivity and management of a research program in normal and abnormal brain aging.

    Application Process: Application packages are to include a CV with bibliography and a statement addressing the qualifications and interest in the position. Application packages can be submitted via email at NIAJobs@mail.nih.gov or by mail to National Institute on Aging, 9000 Rockville Pike, Building 31/Suite 2c02, Bethesda, MD 20892 Attention: Jessica Schwartz. All application materials must be received by March 31, 2015. Salary is commensurate with experience and a full package of Civil Service benefits is available. All information provided by applicants will remain confidential and will not be released outside the NIA search process without a signed release from candidates. For further information and questions, please contact Jessica Schwartz at NIAJobs@mail.nih.gov or by phone at 301-402-7719

    The NIH encourages the application and nomination of qualified women, minorities, and individuals with disabilities.

    HHS AND NIH ARE EQUAL OPPORTUNITY EMPLOYERS

  • January 28, 2015

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    Dallas Anderson, Program Administrator in the Division of Neuroscience, describes common pitfalls to avoid when developing research plans for grant applications. The most common recommendation that he makes is to simplify the research plan.

    Read the full blog post: Strengthen your research plan for a better score – Dos and Don’ts

    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.

  • February 4, 2015

    Cartoon of four people in conversation.

    The application period for the Summer Training in Aging Research Program is now underway. Students accepted into the program will get a unique, hands-on experience alongside NIA investigators and scientists in the labs of NIA’s Intramural Research Program. Any high school, college, graduate or medical/ dental students interested in biomedical research are encouraged to apply.

    Read the full blog post: Summer training in aging research—now accepting applications

    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.

  • February 11, 2015

    Cartoon of four people in conversation.

    Robin Barr, Director of the Division of Extramural Activities, explains what the recently announced NIA payline means for potential applicants and sheds light on NIA’s future funding outlook for the remainder of the year.

    Read the full blog post: Payline update

    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.

  • February 3, 2015

    Older adults who take anticholinergic drugs, which are commonly prescribed for a wide range of health conditions, may be at significantly higher risk of developing dementia—and the greater the use of the drugs, the higher the potential risk. The NIA-supported findings appeared online Jan. 26, 2015, in JAMA Internal Medicine.

    Anticholinergics are prescribed for many health conditions in older people, including overactive bladder, seasonal allergies, and depression. Some are available over the counter and are often used as sleep aids. These medications block a neurotransmitter--acetylcholine—in the brain and body and may cause such side effects as impaired cognition, especially in older people. This side effect was thought to be reversible once the person stopped taking the medication.

    However, researchers led by Dr. Shelly Gray, University of Washington School of Pharmacy, Seattle, showed that these medications may have a lasting impact. By analyzing records and data from the NIA-supported Group Health/University of Washington Adult Changes in Thought (ACT) study for drugs prescribed over 10 years to 3,434 adults age 65 and older, they calculated cumulative exposure to drugs with strong anticholinergic effects.

    The analysis showed that 78 percent of ACT participants used anticholinergics at least once in 10 years. Nearly 800 participants (23 percent) developed dementia, usually Alzheimer’s. The higher the use of anticholinergics, the higher the risk of dementia, regardless of whether the drugs had been taken recently or years ago.

    The findings suggest that physicians treating older people should prescribe alternatives to anticholinergics, when possible, or lower doses of the drugs. More studies are needed to determine to what extent stopping anticholinergics can reduce the risk of developing permanent dementia.

    Reference: Gray SL, et al. Cumulative use of strong anticholinergics and incident dementia. JAMA Internal Medicine. Published online Jan. 26, 2015. doi:10.1001/jamainternmed.2014.7663.

  • January 21, 2015

    Cartoon of four people in conversation.

    The Advisory Council of the National Institute on Aging meets on January 28. Watch online from 8:00 AM to about 1:15 PM EST.

    Dr. Robin Barr, director of the NIA Division of Extramural Activities, describes plans for the meeting in a new blog post, with links to the agenda, meeting materials, and live videocast. "Although NACA members don’t make final approvals, their advice and direction is very closely heeded," he writes.

    By paying attention to NACA meetings you can learn more about:

    • the NIA budget for research in 2015 and 2016
    • new areas of research or new kinds of grants that the NIA is planning to fund
    • plans for addressing policy issues—like tightening budgets—across NIH

    Read the full blog post: Watch as it happens, live! Tune in to the NIA Council webcast

    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.

  • January 15, 2015

    NEW! Funding Opportunity Announcements in the Science of Behavior Change​

    Application receipt date: March 20, 2015

    We are very pleased to announce four new funding opportunities from the NIH Science of Behavior Change Common Fund Program http://commonfund.nih.gov/behaviorchange/index. Please consider applying and/or sharing these widely with your colleagues and networks.

    SOBC activities are driven by the overarching goal of integrating insights from basic behavioral and social research into the design of improved interventions for behavior change. Three of the Requests for Applications (RFAs) (RFA-RM-14-018, RFA-RM-14-019, and RFA-RM-14- 020) call for teams of scientists to conduct target validation activities intended develop the tools required to implement a mechanisms-focused, experimental medicine approach to behavior change research. These activities will focus on targets in the three domains of self-regulation, stress reactivity and stress resilience, and interpersonal and social processes, which are hypothesized to be relevant to multiple health behaviors involved in multiple clinical endpoints.

    The Target Validation Project teams may span labs, disciplines, and institutions to bring together the expertise needed to achieve the target validation aims proposed in response to these announcements. Basic researchers in the behavioral sciences are needed to identify candidate measures of processes that are thought to be causally linked to health behaviors and conduct tests to verify that these processes can be manipulated. Intervention scientists are needed to conduct the theory testing and experimentation that constitutes Stage 0-1 research in the behavioral intervention development pipeline. The Target Validation Project funding opportunities are flexible with respect to the approaches teams may consider in achieving their aims.

    The fourth RFA is to support a Resource and Coordinating Center (RCC) (U24) that provides national leadership for the coordinated efforts of projects and initiatives of SOBC to validate assays for behavior change. The RCC will also serve as the central resource for the organization of the meetings and other activities of the SOBC Program, including the support of its Steering Committee and External Scientific Panel, and any SOBC Steering Committee subcommittees that are established.

    Applicants are encouraged to review the FAQs, register for the relevant pre-application technical assistance webinar, and discuss potential applications with the scientific contacts listed in the RFAs.

  • January 14, 2015

    Historian Gabrielle Tayac, Ph.D., spoke at a Native American Heritage Month Celebration Nov. 12 2014 at the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Bethesda, Maryland.

    The talk was part of the “Healing Our Community Through Narrative: The Power of Storytelling” series organized and hosted by the NIH Office of Equity, Diversity, and Inclusion, in partnership with the Trans-NIH American Indian and Alaska Native (AI/AN)  Health Communications and Information Workgroup, the Trans-NIH AI/AN Research Interest Workgroup and the NIA Office of Special Populations.

    Read more at: http://www.niehs.nih.gov/news/newsletter/2014/12/spotlight-nihprogram/index.htm

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