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About NIA

NACA Meeting: June 4-5, 2013

Institute-Sponsored Meetings, Workshops, and Conferences

Past Meetings

Second Meeting of Reversibility Network (February 26-27, 2013)

This NIA-funded exploratory meeting was chaired by Dr. David Reiss, BSR (IPA), and Steven Suomi, NICHD.  This Network is the first NIA effort to capitalize on recent research on mechanisms that account for the long-term effects of childhood adversity on patterns of healthy and impaired trajectories in aging.  This second meeting explored the applicability of two concepts from the developmental literature to considerations of midlife reversibility of early-established persistent risk mechanisms. The first was the concept of critical periods of plasticity, and the potential to reopen these windows later in life. The second was the concept of differential susceptibility to environments and its relevance for intervention approaches beyond early developmental periods.   (For more information contact Dr. David Reiss or Dr. Lis Nielsen, 301-402-4156.)

Task groups have been established to present an outline of needed research on both developmental pathways and on novel interventions for review at the Third Meeting of Reversibility Network in London on October 14 and 15, 2013. The meeting is being sponsored by UK Research Councils: ESRC and BBSRC.

Positive Psychobiology Symposium at American Psychosomatic Society (March 12, 2013)

This NIA-funded pre-conference and conference symposium explored approaches to measurement of biomarkers related to positive psychological states and functioning.  This activity is aligned with BSR’s goals for research on self-reported well-being and biosocial surveys, and complements measurement development for assessing self-reported well-being in BSR-supported existing surveys. In recent work, investigators have begun to explore the relationship between positive psychological functioning (including constructs such as optimism, positive emotions, and social connectedness) and physical health. However, our understanding of the mechanisms underlying this relationship is still limited. In talks at the preconference and symposium, participants considered potential positive psychobiological processes that might link positive psychological functioning with enhanced resilience, reduced risk of disease, and improved physical health. The preconference was planned in collaboration with the Princeton Roybal Center, Laura Kubzansky and Julia Boehm at Harvard, and Suzanne Segerstrom at U Kentucky. A draft report is being reviewed.  Symposium speakers included Art Kramer, Sarah Hampson, Tim Smith, Andrew Steptoe.   (For more information contact Dr. Lis Nielsen, 301-402-4156.)


An exploratory meeting was held in Bethesda, MD on March 11-12 to plan the continuation of the Aging Intervention Testing Program (ITP) cooperative agreement program.  The ITP was designed to test, under standardized conditions at multiple sites, putative interventions with potential to extend lifespan and health span in a mammalian model.  Three awards were made under RFA-AG-02-005 and renewed under RFA-AG-09-013.  The continuation of the program is being considered and this workshop brought together experts in aging biology as well as statisticians and clinical trial experts to evaluate the current Standard Operating Procedures (SOPs) that have been developed by the three Principal Investigators (PI) that are currently funded. In addition, as the ITP continuation will increase the ability to perform “Phase 2 Studies” of health-outcomes, including performance tests on live animals and postmortem histopathological assessments of aged mice, several experts in veterinary pathology and healthspan outcome measures were invited to participate in the workshop.  A report of the workshop will be presented to NACA in June, 2013.

(Contact:  Dr. Rebecca Fuldner, DAB, 301/496-6402).

Enabling Partnerships for Alzheimer’s Disease Drug Development (April 10, 2013)

Despite a substantial R&D investment for Alzheimer's disease (AD) and advances made in our understanding of the disease pathogenesis, safe and effective treatments for AD patients are still lacking. This reflects a fundamental deficiency in how the academic, biopharmaceutical and government sectors participating in AD research and therapy development generate, share, and use knowledge to propel the development of critically needed therapies. It is becoming apparent that real progress in developing effective therapies will require a transformation of the process of AD drug development into one that is participatory, collaborative, well-integrated, and iterative. The purpose of this meeting convened by the NIA Division of Neuroscience on April 10, 2013 in Bethesda, MD was to facilitate the creation of new partnerships aimed at achieving this transformation. To this end the meeting brought together representatives from all relevant stakeholders including government, industry, academia, foundations, and patient advocacy groups. The program was developed around several transformative concepts proposed at the NIH AD Research Summit 2012: “Path to Treatment and Prevention” and focused on three interconnected goals:  1) enabling rapid use and reuse of multidimensional data (genomic, other “omic”, imaging, phenotypic, clinical etc.) to build predictive models of AD necessary for the development of diagnostics and treatments 2) creating broad capabilities in quantitative and systems pharmacology to identify and select disease relevant targets, to understand in a precise and predictive manner how drugs impact human pathophysiology and to enable drug repurposing and identification of combination therapies 3) expanding the precompetitive space for validation of novel targets from discovery through phase II trials. (For more information, contact Dr. Suzana Petanceska, DN, 301-496-9350, petanceskas@nia.nih.gov).

Advancing Treatments for Alzheimer’s Disease in Individuals with Down SYNDROME (April 16-17, 2013)

The NIA Division of Neuroscience co-sponsored a workshop organized by the Eunice Kennedy Shriver National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD), in collaboration with the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), Down Syndrome Research and Treatment Foundation, and Research Down Syndrome on April 16-17, 2013 in Potomac MD. The meeting agenda focused on research in support of Down Syndrome, a special population likely to acquire Alzheimer’s disease, a key goal of the National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease. The workshop brought together more than 40 leading scientists and representatives from academia, industry, federal agencies and private foundations to explore how current research activities and resources could be developed to create new opportunities to develop therapeutics and to develop a research agenda for facilitating the development of successful interventions. Topics ranged from our understanding of the Alzheimer’s disease pathway in people with Down Syndrome, to the use of animal models in Alzheimer’s and Down Syndrome research, to the way forward in using biomarker, imaging and cognitive assessments to test therapies in this vulnerable population.   A meeting summary as well as research recommendations aimed at facilitating the development of successful treatments for Alzheimer’s disease in Down Syndrome will be forthcoming. (For more information, contact Dr. Laurie Ryan, DN, phone 301-496-9350, ryanl@mail.nih.gov).

Alzheimer’s Disease-Related Dementias: Research Challenges and Opportunities (May 1-2, 2013)

The NIA Division of Neuroscience co-sponsored a workshop organized by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS), in collaboration with the Alliance for Aging Research, ACT-AD, Alzheimer’s Association, Association for Frontotemporal Degeneration, and USAgainst Alzheimer’s, on May 1-2, 2013 in Bethesda, MD. The workshop brought together leading neuroscientists, physicians, and public and private stakeholders to discuss the key challenges and special opportunities for research in Alzheimer’s disease-related dementias. This workshop was convened in response to the 2012 National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease to develop recommendations on research priorities in the areas of Frontotemporal, Lewy body, mixed, and vascular dementias. (For more information, contact Dr. Creighton Phelps, DN, phone 301-496-9350, phelpsc@nia.nih.gov).


The Division of Aging Biology (DAB) sponsored a symposium at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Immunology on May 6, 2013 in Honolulu, HI.  Four speakers gave presentations at this symposium which is titled “The Aging, Cancer and Immunosenescence”.

(Contact: Dr. Rebecca Fuldner, DAB, 301/496-6402).

Workshop on Policy-Relevant Psychological Science (May 22, 2013)

This exploratory meeting is a collaboration of NIA, Office of Science and Technology Policy, and the Association for Psychological Science, all of whom have contributed funding.  The meeting explored how psychological, social and economic science in decision making, behavior change, and well-being can inform public health policy.  (For more information contact Dr. Lis Nielsen, 301-402-4156.)


We have planned an advisory workshop to discuss the current status of the science and to determine if there are any gaps or opportunities that have not been met by the scientific community.

Senescence is a significant biological process that has been associated with aging.  Many researchers have made a number of key discoveries, including the senescence associated beta galactosidase biomarker, and the definition of the senescence secretory phenotype in terms of the secretion of inflammatory cytokines and matrix remodeling components.  In addition, there has been significant progress in elucidating the signaling initiated by dysfunctional telomeres and the involvement of the p53 and Rb pathways in senescence. Therefore, a key pathway in the development of the senescence phenotype is the induction of DNA damage and repair. This senescence process has been associated with the concept of antagonistic pleiotropy in tumor development and aging. Senescent cells might also promote cancer. Since its discovery, senescence has had a major impact in the aging field.  The aim of this workshop is to bring together experts in the field of senescence and aging to determine what are the challenges and opportunities in furthering the research in this area.

The workshop was held on May 23, 2013 in Bethesda, MD.

(Contact:  Dr. Jose Velazquez, DAB, 301/496-6402).


Purpose: Outreach

The purpose of the forum is to bring together new awardees of grants from DAB in the spring of the year following their award, to encourage their continued success in this field by allowing them to get acquainted with us (NIA program staff) as well as network with each other.  The new investigators will be asked to make short presentations describing their planned work (or results to date) with an emphasis on how it relates to the area of aging research.  As for previous meetings, the invitation letter will include the following language:

“Since you are being funded by the National Institute on Aging, we presume that your talk will clearly and explicitly demonstrate to us (and to the other forum participants) how your research is related to the area of aging.” 

The meeting will start with a keynote address by an eminent aging researcher (Dr. S. Michal Jazwinski). 

 The workshop was planned for May 29-30, 2013 in Bethesda, MD. 

(Contact: Dr. David Finkelstein, DAB, 301/496-6402).

Future Meetings


  1. LAG1 (one of the first longevity genes identified) encodes the enzyme ceramide synthase.
  2. Ceramides form the backbone of all glycolipids and sphingolipids, and have recently emerged as important in the regulation of cellular stress in response to multiple stress inducers such as chemotherapeutic agents, UV radiation, and tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFα).  Moreover, ceramides are potent at inducing cell stress responses including autophagy, ER stress, and cell death.  Ceramides are signaling molecules and also components of the mitochondrial membrane. 
  3. aging-induced up-regulation of neutral sphingomyelianse-2 (NSMase-2) activity underlies the exaggerated response of hepatocytes IL-1beta during aging.
  4. Ceramide isoforms in the mitochondria change with age.  These changes appear to lead to the inhibition of the electron transport chain as well as induction of apoptosis.

The purpose of this request is to hold a one day workshop to evaluate the current state of the art with respect to ceramide and aging and suggest possible future areas of exploration.

We propose an exploratory workshop to be held on July 23, 2013 in Bethesda, MD.

(Contact:  Dr. David Finkelstein, DAB, 301/496-6402).


This will be an exploratory workshop to discuss how regulatory RNAs impact aging and age-related diseases, and to determine if there are any gaps or opportunities that have not been met by the scientific community.

Regulatory RNAs include an increasing list of RNA molecules (miRNAs, NCRNAs, piRNAs, etc.) that have been shown to regulate either gene expression or protein synthesis in all kind of cells. These RNAs have significant biological importance in aging.  For example, there is substantial evidence that indicates that miRNAs regulate the process of senescence.  However, the precise mechanisms by which miRNAs and other regulatory RNAs control this and other age-related biological processes remain unsolved. The aim for the workshop is to bring experts in the RNA field and experts in the biology of aging to encourage a cross-talk among the different disciplines and to help determine what are the challenges and opportunities in furthering the research in this area.

We propose an exploratory workshop to be held on August 29, 2013 in Bethesda, MD.

(Contact:  Dr. Jose Velazquez, DAB, 301/496-6402).


The lack of animal models that mimic ovarian and hormonal characteristics of peri- and postmenopausal women has significantly hampered advances in age-related reproductive biology despite its importance in women’s health.  In the past, several vertebrate models have been used for studies of reproductive biology. These include different mammalian species, genetically engineered rodents, non-human primates and inducible mouse models that mimic aspects of human menopause. Several groups have also used environmentally-induced models of premature ovarian failure to study ovarian aging. Studies have traditionally used ovariectomy as the standard approach to study age-related menopause biology. However, inducible and genetic models are being increasingly considered in these studies.  

Reproductive senescence that occurs in all female mammals is often associated with changes in numerous body functions. Although some features are species-specific, there are those that parallel human menopause and aging. These include changes in hormone profiles across the menopausal transition, progression to cycle termination through irregular cycles, disturbances in thermogenesis, age-related gains in body weight, changes in fat distribution and disposition towards metabolic syndrome, epigenetic changes, and environmental triggers that time endocrine aging with implications on age-related diseases. Many features of the post-menopausal state also increase greatly the risks for age-related diseases, including cardiovascular disease and osteoporosis. With appropriate animal models, it would be possible to obtain further insights on these age-related aspects in female reproductive biology. This small portfolio needs further strengthening within the Division of Aging Biology.

The purpose of this proposed workshop is to assemble experts (NIA-funded and non-NIA funded scientific experts) to obtain an update on this topic. This will help NIA to foster this important area of research further leveraging existing NIA resources and/or collaboration with the Office of Women’s Health and/or special initiatives.

We propose an exploratory workshop to be held on September, 2013 in Bethesda, MD.

(Contact:  Dr. Mahadev Murthy, DAB, 301/496-6402).


The neuromuscular junction changes with age, such that there is a loss in the number of functional junctions.   It is not known what causes the loss in neuromuscular junctions, but there is evidence that changes in the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) play a role in sarcopenia and frailty.  The purpose of this workshop is to explore and discuss the roll of aging in the loss of NMJ in sarcopenic frailty.

We propose an exploratory workshop to be held in Summer, 2013 in Bethesda, MD.

(Contacts:  Drs. Rebecca Fuldner/John Williams, DAB, 301/496-6402; Dr. Wen Chen, DN, 301/496-9350).

Auditory Plasticity and Aging (Summer 2013)

The NIA Division of Neuroscience, in collaboration with the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), will convene a workshop during Summer 2013 in Bethesda, MD.  The workshop intends to bring together leading investigators in the fields of auditory research and aging research to identify common ground and suitable strategies to enhance the integration of basic research on age-related deficits in the auditory pathways with clinical research on aging-related hearing loss. The program attempts to encourage exchange between investigators who are currently working on the aging process and hearing loss/deficits and those who are tackling the same issues but in the non-aged subjects/animals.  The hope is that both groups will learn from each other, and the non-aging investigators will be encouraged to broaden their research scope to include aging. Discussion topics will include how neural plasticity in general, and cortical plasticity in particular, could underlie age-related hearing processing deficits and how these plasticity mechanisms could be either alleviated or used for remedial therapies. For further information, please contact Dr. Wen G. Chen (chenw@nia.nih.gov; phone 301-496-9350).