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Goal G: Support the infrastructure and resources needed to promote high quality research

The availability of the infrastructure, resources, and training needed to support present and future research, program management, and information dissemination is critical to the NIA mission. NIA will provide resources to develop a skilled interdisciplinary research workforce, ensure that scientists have access to the technology and equipment they need to perform the research, promote clinical research participation, and facilitate the dissemination of research results to scientists, health professionals, and the public.

Our objectives in this area are to:

G-1: Foster interdisciplinary exchange and encourage collaborative research across disciplines.

  • Support workshops and conferences that bring scientists from various disciplines together for discussion and planning.
  • Provide funding opportunities that encourage interdisciplinary efforts and/or partnerships across two or more institutions or organizations.
  • Facilitate ongoing dialogue with researchers and professional organizations.

G-2: Engage in partnerships to create synergy and leverage resources within and among institutions and organizations as well as patient and advocacy groups.

  • Work closely with other NIH Institutes and Centers, other government agencies, and the private sector to collaborate across the continuum of research from basic science through translational research to clinical studies.
  • Partner with other government agencies, professional organizations, private funders of research, and international research groups to collect data and other resources to facilitate understanding of science on a global level.
  • Continue to participate in trans-NIH efforts such as the NIH Common Fund and the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research.
  • Partner with other government agencies, professional organizations, and advocacy groups to ensure that research results are translated into public health programs and medical practice and used to inform public policy.
  • Collaborate with public and private partners to make results of research and other findings on successful patient recruitment strategies, including strategies targeted to minority and special populations, widely available to the research community.

G-3: Train and attract the workforce necessary for rigorous research on aging, including new, mid-career, and senior investigators.

  • Develop and promote flexible mechanisms to meet the rapidly changing needs of science and prepare scientists, clinicians, and communicators to work effectively in interdisciplinary team environments across the continuum of research.
  • Develop partnerships with academia, professional organizations, and other entities to establish and improve programs for identifying, recruiting, and training scholars for careers in research on aging.
  • Participate in NIH efforts to improve recruitment, training, and retention of scientists across the full spectrum of research on aging.
  • Expand bioethics training for investigators to address issues specific to older adults in research.

G-4: Attract and train more researchers from diverse scientific and cultural backgrounds.

  • Participate in NIH efforts to narrow the racial gap in grant approval.
  • Work to recruit, train, and retain scientists from under-represented groups.

G-5: Develop and distribute research resources.

  • Support colonies of aged animal models that are necessary for research on aging processes and specific age-related diseases.
  • Make cell cultures and tissue, cell, and blood banks available for basic and epidemiological research.
  • Create and make available DNA resources for genetic studies on aging and disease.
  • Support access to imaging and other advanced technologies in shared facilities for examining aging biological systems.
  • Support the development of population-based data sets, especially from longitudinal studies, suitable for analysis of biological, behavioral, and social factors affecting health, well-being, and functional status through the life course.
  • Support data archiving and data sharing. Consider innovative means for cost-effectively sharing data (i.e., remote enclaves) that expand research use while reducing disclosure risk.
  • Support the development of internationally harmonized biological, social, and behavioral longitudinal data on aging to foster cross-national research.
  • Support computer technologies to record and analyze interdisciplinary research findings on basic biological studies and long-term, population-based data.
  • Implement efforts to encourage older individuals to participate in research and increase the numbers of participants in clinical trials.
  • Support candidate drug evaluation programs, facilities, and related resources for animal and clinical studies.
  • Develop innovative changes in the design, planning, and implementation of clinical trials and social and behavioral studies on the health and well-being of older people.

G-6: Develop the necessary infrastructure to encourage translation of research from basic discovery and intervention development.

Translational research provides the two-way bridge necessary to link scientific discoveries with development for and applications in medical practice and public health. For research on aging, basic discoveries typically begin with studies at a molecular or cellular level to understand the mechanisms of normal aging and disease or with basic behavioral or social science studies that uncover potential mechanisms responsible for driving differences in aging processes across individuals, groups, and geographical regions. New knowledge gained at "the bench," "the lab," or in "the field" takes a variety of paths to human intervention—the "bedside," "the community," or "the institution." Equally important is providing a clear path back to the basic science for insights gained in the context of interventions. Several NIH initiatives are focusing on the broad issues of culture change required for the biomedical and behavioral science community to more successfully support translational activities that embody this process of back and forth translation. NIA will continue to:

  • Identify and optimize opportunities for moving new knowledge from basic discovery to intervention development and back. We will accelerate our efforts to promote promising preclinical studies and community and health systems research. We will also work to ensure that new technologies such as advanced imaging and bioinformatics and other resources needed for effective translational research are accessible to scientists and clinicians.
  • Support a robust clinical trials infrastructure to facilitate the translation of basic research to human application in age-related diseases, and vice versa. This support will include technical assistance for patient recruitment and retention of older adults in clinical trials.
  • Facilitate communication among researchers and encourage interdisciplinary collaboration. The complexity of contemporary science demands collaboration among researchers from multiple disciplines along the continuum of research. We will invest in multidisciplinary research programs and provide supplemental funding to support promising interdisciplinary endeavors.
  • Foster communication and partnerships with other NIH institutes and centers and with other Federal agencies as well as other national and international research organizations. NIA will continue to collaborate with other NIH Institutes and Centers on projects with a multi-disciplinary focus such as the NIH Common Fund, the NIH GeroScience Interest Group, and the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research. We will continue to participate in partnerships with outside organizations to share resources, support collaborative research, eliminate barriers to drug development, and communicate research findings to the public.