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
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
Posted on January 22, 2014 by David Schlessinger, NIH Distinguished Investigator and Chief, Laboratory of Genetics, Intramural Research Program.
When I first entered my mentor Jim Watson’s office as a graduate student in ancient times (i.e., 1957), I saw a slip of paper fastened by scotch tape to the fluorescent light fixture over his desk. On it he had clearly printed in ink: DNA --> RNA --> protein. So, there it was—a clear guiding principle; a new science was starting. Read More
Posted on January 15, 2014 by Nancy Nadon, Program Officer of the Biological Resources Program and Chief, Biological Resources Branch, Division of Aging Biology.
The NIA has invested heavily in resources to support the study of aging biology. In part, this is because the resources needed to conduct such research simply don’t exist elsewhere. Recently, investigators using NIA biological resources have been affected by many new rules. The quick summary of these changes? Biological resources are now provided at no cost to researchers, but the eligibility criteria for use of the resources have necessarily been tightened. Read More
NIH program officers—what do they really do? How can you get the best from your program officer? Our main job is to make sure the NIA is funding the best research projects, career development, and research training in the areas of science we cover. A big part of “turning discovery into health,”—NIH’s credo—is advising applicants. If an application fails, it should be because something else was judged a better bet, not because one applicant was poorly informed. Program officers assist you throughout the funding process, after you get a grant as well as when your idea is still just… an idea. It is often important to get in touch with us before you submit your grant application. Read More
There’s a lot of attention to new innovations in biomedical research, and we are proud to be a part of it. While the headlines may tout the latest in whole genome sequencing or the promise of “big data,” there are other areas of important new research, and one of these is the revolution in the study of palliative care. Read More
We have been here before. The continuing resolution provides some research funds—not a lot though. Like a ticking clock it winds down on January 15. And our backdrop is a familiar debate on Capitol Hill about appropriations. Maybe it will end with better NIA and NIH numbers than last year. Or maybe not. We posted our interim funding policy. Really there is only one option in setting paylines, or funding lines, for grants at this time. We must be conservative. Read More
Posted on December 4, 2013 by Jennifer Illuzzi, Postdoctoral Intramural Research Training Award (IRTA) Fellow, Laboratory of Molecular Gerontology, Intramural Research Program.
I’m a postdoc at the NIA labs in Baltimore, Maryland. I’ve been here for three wonderful years, and I wanted to share some of my experience with you. If you have a graduate student who will soon be looking for a postdoc, or if you yourself might consider an NIA research training position—Read On! Read More
Junior investigators always face challenges. Those from diverse backgrounds face even more challenges. If you’re mentoring someone, or if you yourself are one of these junior investigators, you know this all too well. The NIH and the NIA are working very hard on this issue. Here are some actions you can take to find supportive communities—and available funding opportunities. Read More
Optimism and pessimism compete with each other as we contemplate the future for research and research funding. The prospects for important breakthroughs in NIA’s primary areas of medical research—aging and Alzheimer’s disease—have never been brighter. We receive thousands of applications each year, many deemed exceptionally worthy after peer review. On the other hand, we at the NIA and across the NIH are constrained by a budget that, in real terms, is shrinking dramatically. Read More