Dr. J Taylor Harden, who led efforts at NIA and in the research community nationwide to bring diversity to research and to the ranks of scientists conducting research on aging, retired from NIA on December 31. Since 1997, Dr. Harden was the Chief of the Office of Special Populations and the Assistant to the Director for Special Populations. In this capacity, she was responsible for activities supporting women, racially and ethnically diverse populations and disabled scientists; providing the NIA director and senior staff with advice and guidance on enhancing the participation of special populations in aging research initiatives; and providing guidance on NIA goals for research and training programs for special populations.
“Taylor is known for her commitment to the development and support of researchers new to the field of aging research,” says Dr. Richard J. Hodes, NIA Director. “She has brought a diverse group of talented researchers into science through a dedication to mentoring and by understanding and providing the types of support that were needed.”
As one strategy for recruiting and mentoring, Dr. Harden facilitated the NIA Grants Technical Assistance Workshop in conjunction with the annual meeting of the Gerontological Society of America. More than 600 participants attended the workshop between 1997 and 2011.
The NIA Summer Institute on Aging Research, which marked its 25th anniversary in 2011, was a particularly special endeavor for Dr. Harden. Each year, she brought together new and early career scientists in aging research for a 7-day educational training curriculum that featured senior scientists from NIA staff and grantees. More than 1,000 investigators are graduates of the Summer Institute and many have gone on to distinguished careers in the field of aging research.
Before coming to NIA, Dr. Harden held positions at the National Institute for Nursing Research and at the University of Texas Health Science Center at San Antonio School of Nursing. She is a fellow of the Gerontological Society of America, the New York Academy of Medicine, and the American Academy of Nursing. In retirement she has transitioned to service as chief administrator of the John A. Hartford Building Academic Geriatric Nursing Capacity initiative administered through the American Academy of Nursing.