Office of the Director

If it’s September, it must be Council! It’s that time again! The public session of NIA’s National Advisory Council on Aging is taking place tomorrow starting at 8:00 a.m., Eastern time. The meeting agenda and materials are available online. You can watch the archived videocast here: https://videocast.nih.gov/ in a few days. Read the full blog post.

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A few months ago, NIA decided to follow the practice of two other NIH institutes and arrange two-stage review of program projects. We have recently completed the first review cycle under this new review model. We launched this two-stage effort because of concern that the separate small committee reviews which each handled one program project lacked the context for scoring that is available to the customarily larger panels who review a substantial set of research grant applications in one meeting.

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On June 7, NIA Director Dr. Richard Hodes announced that Dr. John Haaga had been appointed director of the Division of Behavioral and Social Research. Dr. Haaga was the acting director for the previous 15 months and the deputy director since 2004. "Inside NIA" sat down with Dr. Haaga to talk about his research plans for the division.

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If you are interested in health disparities and aging research, the NIA is ready, willing and able to help be a resource for you and the field. In recent months, we have undertaken several activities to enhance research opportunities, and I’d like to tell you about a few of these to keep you involved and make sure you’re up to speed!

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You have a burning idea about aging. Now you need the funding for it. What do you do? Or, you once sent an application through the inscrutable machinery of grants.gov. You even retrieved reviews after an eternity of waiting. And now, apart from burying the reviews in several feet of dirt where they will be of most use, you have no idea what your next move is. We may have the answer for you.

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California, here we come! No, we’re not participating in a gold rush, we’re going to the annual meeting of the American Geriatrics Society (AGS) next week in Long Beach. We’re looking forward to seeing old friends and making new ones. We also hope that you’ll take the opportunity to connect with NIA staff at the meeting, during scientific sessions and at the Exhibit Hall.

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At the National Institute on Aging, our shared vision is one in which all Americans enjoy robust health and independence with advancing age. Although we have come far in 40 years of supporting and  conducting research, we in the scientific community will need to think broadly, creatively, intelligently—and strategically—to pursue this goal most effectively. I am proud to let you know that an updated version of NIA’s Strategic Directions, Aging Well in the 21st Century, is now available.

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As the funding policy statement makes clear, the fiscal year 2016 budget is a historic first for NIA. Yes, we received a very substantial increase for research related to Alzheimer’s disease—$350 million. But, in addition to that, we received a 4.2-percent increase in our general budget. That amount is above the rate of inflation for the first time since 2003, at the end of the era of doubling the budget. But, the competition for new and renewing awards remains fierce.

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I’m very pleased to announce that the Trans-NIH GeroScience Interest Group (GSIG) and partners will host its second summit in 2016. The “Disease Drivers of Aging: 2016 Advances in Geroscience Summit” will take place on April 13–14 at the New York Academy of Sciences in New York City. Members of the Geroscience Interest Group from the NIH, with essential collaboration and support from the New York Academy of Sciences, the American Federation for Aging Research, and the Gerontological Society of America, have developed a theme and program for a second geroscience summit requested by the research community.

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Next week, NIA’s National Advisory Council on Aging (NACA) will hold its first meeting of 2016. The January 20 public session promises to be particularly interesting. NIA Director Dr. Richard Hodes will provide some general background information on the FY 2016 budget for NIH and NIA. The session will also include NIH updates on research policy, as well as new scientific findings.

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