Research and Funding

Inside NIA: A Blog for Researchers

Posted on April 9, 2014 by Robin Barr, Director of the Division of Extramural Activities.

Why do some grant applications receive a percentile rank and others not? Applications for an NIA grant that are reviewed at the NIH Center for Scientific Review, or CSR, get a percentile rank. Applications for an NIA grant that are reviewed at the National Institute on Aging, through review panels organized by our NIA scientific review staff, do not receive percentile ranks. If an application is reviewed by NIA, we give it a priority score, not a percentile. This includes the R01s and investigator-initiated research grant applications that are reviewed at NIA. But this seems inconsistent! Either this means that we at NIA are crazy (which many have claimed) or that the use of percentiling needs explaining. Read More

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Posted on April 2, 2014 by Luigi Ferrucci, Director, NIA Intramural Research Program.

The Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, or BLSA, is one of the world’s longest running studies of aging. Started in 1958, the BLSA enrolls healthy volunteers ages 20 years and older and follows them longitudinally—for life—even performing an autopsy in those who consented. I want to encourage researchers who study issues related to aging and have questions that require the unique design and depth of information available in the BLSA to submit an analysis proposal to use the data. Read More

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Posted on March 26, 2014 by Robin Barr, Director of the Division of Extramural Activities.

When the dust cleared on our budget this year, the NIA was blessed with a 12.5%, $130 million increase over fiscal year 2013’s sequester-dictated funding. As the NIH as a whole received a 3.4% increase, NIA’s 2014 funding reflects extraordinary recognition from Congress. In fiscal year 2013 (October 2012 to September 2013), we saw our worst success rate ever for research project grant applications—R01s, R21s, R03s, etc. NIA’s success rate was noticeably below the NIH average success rate, which was also among the lowest ever for NIH as a whole. Read More

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Posted on March 19, 2014 by Davide Guerrieri, Postdoctoral Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) Fellow, Neuroplasticity and Behavioral Unit, Laboratory of Neurosciences, Intramural Research Program.

Doing science, living abroad, and learning how to speak and think in a new language. Not so easy! But like many of you, I enjoy challenges. So, I took up all of these, all at once. I left Italy 3 years ago to start a postdoc here in Baltimore, Maryland, at the National Institute on Aging. The NIA is an energetic, international environment, as is its parent organization, the National Institutes of Health. Although I am sure many of you left your country to pursue your science career, as I did, every story is different. Here is mine. Read More

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Posted on March 12, 2014 by Carl V. Hill, Director, Office of Special Populations.

The application deadline is fast approaching for NIA’s prestigious summer training opportunity: the Butler-Williams Scholars Program. I hope that you’ve already applied, or have encouraged your mentees to do so. To help you understand a bit more about this program and what it offers, I interviewed NIA Deputy Director Marie A. Bernard. Marie is a longtime advocate of this program, an intensive week-long training whirlwind to boost the careers of emerging scholars in aging research. Read More

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Posted on March 5, 2014 by Kate Nagy, Senior Public Health Analyst, Office of Planning, Analysis, and Evaluation.

While we are beginning to understand the needs of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) communities through medical research, one area that needs attention is research on the health of older LGBT Americans. Efforts such as the recent NIA-supported Caring and Aging with Pride study, the first national, federally funded project examining LGBT aging and health, are providing us with the beginnings of a solid knowledge base—but we still have a long way to go. Read More

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Posted on February 26, 2014 by Robin Barr, Director of the Division of Extramural Activities.

The Advisory Council of the National Institute on Aging is holding one of its thrice yearly meetings today. Did you know you can watch online? The next meeting is on May 21, 2014, from about 8am to 3pm EST. Please save the date! We invite you to tune in, so I hope you'll mark it on your calendar. How do I catch up on today's meeting? Read More

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Posted on February 19, 2014 by John Haaga, Deputy Director, Division of Behavioral and Social Research.

You’ve now figured out which NIA program officer handles your kind of science. But how to get in touch? I hope you’re not agonizing over whether now is the right moment or whether your message will be well received. If you’ve spent a few minutes reviewing published resources related to your questions—for example, the NIA and NIH grants websites—your remaining questions are probably good ones to ask. We really are here to help, though of course if you all contact us all at once, we’re doomed. So, here are some tips that might make you more comfortable hitting send on that email to a program officer. Read More

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Posted on February 12, 2014 by Richard Hodes, Director, National Institute on Aging.

Last month, the NIA got good news about our budget for fiscal year 2014: $130 million more than last year. We are grateful for this increase. It means that this year there will be more funding than last for aging research, including a focus on Alzheimer’s disease. Read More

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Posted on February 5, 2014 by Carl V. Hill, Director, Office of Special Populations.

Just last month, NIA-funded researchers reported on a relationship between racial discrimination and telomere length among a community sample of African American men.  Telomere length, of course, has been associated with aging. And the study found that men with more experience of discrimination and more internalized racial bias had shorter telomeres, thus, perhaps, contributing to premature aging. While these types of findings need further research to determine causality, this fascinating finding illustrates the importance of research on health disparities in the basic biology of aging. Disparities are the focus of the NIA Office of Special Populations. Read More

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Posted on January 29, 2014 by Robin Barr, Director of the Division of Extramural Activities.

With paylines being what they are at NIA and NIH, we tend to hear that discriminating among applications in the narrow range of scores represented by the top 20 percent of applications reviewed by the Center for Scientific Review is a lottery. Surely, it is too much to ask of peer review to discriminate reasonably among applications of such quality. So what sense, then, in drawing a payline? Why not hold a lottery instead? Or at least allow program and senior Institute staff considerable discretion in selecting priorities for award among this set. Read More

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