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About NIA

NACA meeting: September 22-23, 2009

Institute-Sponsored Meetings, Workshops, and Conferences

I. Past Meetings

Harmonization of Longitudinal Aging Surveys – February 9-14, 2009
This BSR-supported exploratory meeting brought together a group of experts, including the principal investigators from the Health and Retirement Survey (HRS), comparable international studies, and teams developing such studies, to a meeting to support harmonization of surveys and the development of a cross-national research agenda on health and health systems. The meeting was held in New Delhi, India. (For more information, contact Drs. Richard Suzman or John Phillips, BSR, Ph: 301-496-3136.)

Clinical Trials on Vitamin D Supplementation in Older Individuals – March 2-3, 2009
Following recommendations by the Clinical Trials Advisory Panel, DGCG organized and sponsored an exploratory workshop to review issues on the effects of vitamin D supplementation on clinical and/or functional outcomes in older persons to better inform a decision about the need for and types of clinical trials in the topic area. The workshop was held on March 2-3, 2009 in Bethesda, MD. Participants reviewed the strength of current evidence regarding the effects of vitamin D supplementation on numerous clinical and functional outcomes in the elderly and discussed design features for possible future clinical trials, including target population, effect size and dose/blood level response relationships with outcomes such as physical function and falls. The workshop proceedings were reviewed by the Clinical Trials Advisory Panel at its meeting on May 12 when the Panel made final recommendations to DGCG as to whether to proceed with any initiative on the topic. (For more information, contact Dr. Sergei Romashkan, DGCG, Ph: 301-435-3047.)

NIA-Alzheimer’s Association Meeting on Alzheimer’s Disease Prevalence – March 19-20, 2009
The Division of Neuroscience (DN), in conjunction with Division of Behavioral and Social Research (BSR) and the Alzheimer’s Association, held an advisory workshop on the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) on March 19-20, 2009, in Washington, DC. The goals of the meeting were: (1) to review the major projects that have produced national prevalence figures and to review other recent research efforts focusing on diagnostic approaches that may shed some light on why national prevalence figures for AD differ; (2) to review data trends on the prevalence of dementia and AD; and (3) to consider the utility of using computer and web-based technology to facilitate case ascertainment in population-based studies of Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI)/Cognitive Impairment no Dementia(CIND)/AD/dementia. An executive summary of the workshop presentations, discussions, and potential future research directions and challenges will be submitted for publication. A draft of this executive summary will be available for consideration at September Council. (For further information, contact: Dr. Dallas Anderson, DN, Ph: 301-496-9350; andersda@nia.nih.gov .)

Integrating the GWAS (Genome-Wide Association Study) into the Health and Retirement Survey (HRS) - April 16-17, 2009
This BSR-supported exploratory meeting, held in Bethesda, MD, had a goal of identifying the best phenotypes for focus and statistical and analytic issues that may arise in conducting a genome-wide scan on the Heath and Retirement Study (HRS). Participants included HRS researchers and scientists in the fields of behavioral and social phenotypes, statistical genetics, and population genetics. (For more information, contact Dr. Erica Spotts, DBSR, Ph: 301-496-3138.)

An Advisory Workshop to Develop Consensus Criteria for Defining Normal Aging in Rodent Models - April 20-22, 2009
Recent scientific advances in aging and age-associated diseases serve as key drivers to learn more about aging phenotypes in rodents and humans. The NIA-supported workshop on biosignatures of aging, held in May 2008, identified the need for developing consensus criteria on normal aging phenotypes. It was agreed that better defined aging phenotypes would strengthen many future NIA-supported studies on normal aging and age-associated diseases. The objective of the April 2009 workshop was to develop consensus criteria for normal aging phenotypes that would include physiological, cellular, and molecular aspects of normal aging. They can be applied to studies in rodent models to: 1) develop and validate biomarker/bio-signature panels, 2) test the influence of genetic background, 3) test potential interventions to promote health aging, and 4) study gene-environment interactions.

Invited participants represented various disciplines including geriatrics, immune, musculoskeletal, and cardiovascular systems, and metabolism. Geriatricians considered aspects of human aging and its potential connections to the study of rodent aging biology. Experts who work with invertebrate model organisms were also invited. A future journal article is anticipated. (For more information, contact: Dr. Mahadev Murthy, DAB, 301-496-6402.)

Harnessing Neuroplasticity for Human Applications - April 21-22, 2009
The NIA participated in the organization of an exploratory workshop on Harnessing Neuroplasticity for Human Applications by the NIH Blueprint for Neuroscience Research. The workshop built on previous Blueprint activities to focus on plasticity at the circuit level or “circuit retraining,” which includes alterations in central nervous system (brain and/or spinal cord) structure and function that support enduring changes in behavior. These alterations may involve qualitative and/or quantitative changes at the cellular or synaptic level that alter, restore, adapt, activate, or form novel circuitry to affect function and behavior. To identify research opportunities for promoting circuit retraining to improve functional outcomes, 30 invited participants with expertise in basic and/or clinical research areas, such as neuroimaging, animal models, clinical trials, deep brain and non-invasive brain stimulation, neurofeedback, virtual reality, pharmacology, therapeutic exercise, and learning-based behavioral interventions, worked as a group to develop background papers and presented at the workshop in one of the four relevant aspects of (1) adult trauma and stroke, (2) mental and addictive disorders, (3) neurodegeneration and aging, and (4) pediatric and developmental disorders. A consensus report (or reports) from the workshop will be developed and published to guide future research priorities in neuroplasticity-based therapeutic intervention and assessment strategies, technological advances and tools for promoting and understanding circuit-level changes, resource issues and barriers, and collaborative opportunities. (For more information, contact Dr. Wen G. Chen, DN, Ph: 301-496-9350; chenw@nia.nih.gov.)

II. Future Meetings

Social, Emotional, and Socioeconomic Behaviors in Aging – May 21, 2009
This BSR-supported exploratory meeting will highlight cutting edge research in domains of psychology of aging that rely on interdisciplinary and multilevel approaches to understanding the social, behavioral, psychological, and biological factors that contribute to positive aging outcomes. This meeting, to be held in Berkeley, California, one day prior to the Annual Convention of the Association for Psychological Science in San Francisco, will explore the potential for advancing integrative psychological research on topics such as self-regulation, social communication and understanding, social stress, well-being, trust, cooperation, and social status. (For more information, contact Dr. Lis Nielsen, BSR, Ph: 301-402-4156.)

The Role of the Cytoskeleton in Cellular Aging – May 22, 2009
The primary goal for this exploratory workshop is to assemble a group of experts in cytoskeletal biology with experts in aging research to identify novel approaches, roadblocks, challenges, and opportunities in determining if and how the cytoskeleton changes with age. It is anticipated that the expert panel will provide NIA with specific recommendations on the best approach to advance the science in this underserved area of research. The workshop will be held in Rockville, MD. (For more information, contact Dr. Jose Velázquez, DAB, 301-496-6402.)

NIH Pain Consortium Symposium: Advances in Pain Research – May 26, 2009
The NIA will co-sponsor and participate in organizing the 4th Annual Symposium on Advances in Pain Research by the NIH Pain Consortium. This year the symposium will feature 10-12 presentations from NIH grantees to highlight cutting-edge research accomplishments in areas of genes and genetic studies to understand risk factors for chronic pain, assess treatment responses and abuse potentials, and develop pain research tools and animal models. These are issues of public health significance. Approximately 20 posters from NIH-funded young investigators will be presented and, at the end of the symposium, there will be an open session for participants to provide feedback on pain research opportunities. (For more information, contact Dr. Wen G. Chen, DN, Ph: 301-496-9350; chenw@nia.nih.gov.)

Workshop: Non-Pharmacological Treatments for Back Pain – May 27, 2009
Chronic pain and its associated morbidity and disability are major health problems around the world. In spite of huge expenditures on care (e.g., annual US expenditures for back pain alone are estimated at $50B to $100B annually), available treatment options and approaches are less than fully satisfactory. Although studies suggest that complementary and alternative medicine (CAM) therapies – spinal manipulation, massage, and acupuncture – are the three most utilized interventions for back pain, the evidence base for such interventions is limited. Thus, there is a compelling need for effectiveness research on non-pharmacological interventions for back pain, including CAM interventions, especially as they are administered and utilized in real-world settings and across a broad range of outcome measures meaningful to patients and their health care providers. The NIA is participating in a trans-NIH Steering Committee, led by the National Center for Complementary and Alternative Medicine (NCCAM), to organize a one-day workshop, in the form of roundtable discussions among a panel of experts, to identify and explore a range of important and timely clinical research questions related to non-pharmacological interventions to treat back pain. The outcome of this workshop will help inform future research directions for the NIH and the biomedical scientific community. (For more information, contact Dr. Wen G. Chen, DN, Ph: 301-496-9350; chenw@nia.nih.gov, and Dr. Basil A. Eldadah, DGCG, Ph: 301-496-6761; eldadahb@nia.nih.gov.)

Workshop on Results from the 2004 National Long-Term Care Survey –May 28-29, 2009
The purpose of this BSR-supported exploratory meeting is to present new research taking advantage of the 2004 (and final) wave of the National Long-term Care Survey (NLTCS) to further our understanding of disability and the aging life course. Scholars have been invited based upon submitted abstracts, and other interested researchers and policymakers have been invited to participate as well. The meeting will be held in Bethesda, Maryland, and has been planned in coordination with the National Archive of Computerized Data on Aging. (For more information, contact Georgeanne Patmios, BSR, Ph: 301-496-3138.)

Electronic Technologies to Address the Study of Independent Living – Spring 2009
This BSR-supported meeting will explore how a technology platform identical or similar to that used by TRIL (Technology Research for Independent Living) and CLARITY (Centre for Sensor Web Technologies) might address a broad range of social, behavioral, and health-related questions. TRIL is a joint program between Irish universities and Intel, aimed at developing technologies to enable elderly persons to live at home. CLARITY is a group of academics and industry partners established as a Science Foundation of Ireland Centre for Science Engineering and Technology. (For more information, contact Georgeanne Patmios or Dr. Jonathan King, BSR, Ph: 301-496-3136.)

Workshop on Changes in Central Regulation of Bone in Aging – June 9, 2009
The primary goal for this exploratory workshop is to assemble a group of experts in neuro and endocrine regulation of bone biology with experts in aging research, to identify novel approaches, roadblocks, challenges and opportunities in further developing the emerging area of aging and neuroendocrine regulation of bone. It is anticipated that the expert panel will provide NIA with specific recommendations on the best approaches to advance the science in this emerging area. The workshop will be held in Bethesda, MD. (For more information, contact Dr. John Williams, DAB, 301-496-6402.)

Conference to Develop Revised Diagnostic Criteria for MCI and Dementia - June 15, 2009
The Division of Neuroscience (DN) will convene an advisory workshop on June 15, 2009 in Bethesda, MD to examine the current state of knowledge on early diagnosis of MCI and dementia and methods to differentiate Alzheimer’s disease from other dementing illnesses. Approximately 20 experts in the field will be invited to participate in a roundtable discussion to examine the evidence and make recommendations as to the timing and organization of an advisory conference on revising the criteria for AD diagnosis. Discussion topics will include clinical methods, neuropsychological testing, and the use of imaging and fluid biomarkers in the differential diagnosis of MCI, AD and other dementias of the aging. (For further information, contact: Dr. Creighton Phelps, DN, Ph: 301-496-9350; phelpsc@nia.nih.gov.)

Genetics and Behavioral and Social Interventions – June 23-24, 2009
This BSR-supported exploratory meeting will be convened to discuss use of genetic information to better understand and plan behavioral and social interventions. Background papers commissioned during FY08 will be presented. (For more information, contact Dr. Erica Spotts, BSR, Ph: 301-496-3138.)

Systems Biology Approaches to Understanding Aging - July 27-31, 2009
Launching an integrated, systems approach to understanding the biology of aging and longevity was one of the central recommendations of the Biology of Aging Summit held in September 2008. This proved to be a central theme of many of the individual working groups at the Summit. Dr. Geoffrey West of the Santa Fe Institute and Dr. Michal Jazwinski of Tulane University approached DAB staff (Anna McCormick and Jose Velazquez) about co-sponsoring this exploratory workshop on “Systems Biology Approaches to Understanding Aging.” Drs. West, Jazwinski, McCormick, and Velazquez are the primary scientific organizers of the proposed workshop planned for July 27-31, 2009, in Santa Fe, NM. Mark Collins of the Glenn Foundation and Stephanie Lederman of AFAR were active participants at the Biology of Aging Summit and offered to co-sponsor this workshop.

The major goals are to gather experts in many areas of aging biology and systems biology to discuss research opportunities related to understanding the biology of aging and to explore rational plans to develop a systematic and integrated systems biology approach to understanding aging biology. Several NIA staff members will be invited to participate in this workshop because of wide-spread interest in this scientific discipline and approach to further aging research. (For more information, contact Dr. Anna McCormick, DAB, 301-496-6402.)

Priorities for Social and Behavioral Research on the Elderly in Disasters – July 2009
This BSR-supported exploratory meeting, organized by the National Academies of Science (NAS), under the auspices of the Committee on Population and the Disasters Roundtable, will be convened to review research on the elderly, both in community and institutionalized, in natural and man-made disasters, to discuss priorities for behavioral and social science research. Relevant Program Announcements issued in 2006 will expire in 2009. This meeting will include researchers and staff from funding and planning agencies to take stock of relevant research (both NIH-funded and other) and discuss priorities for research and translation in the future. (For more information, contact Dr. John Haaga, BSR, Ph: 301-496-3131.)

Alternative Animal Models for Aging Research - July/August, 2009
Over the years, the aging research community has extensively leveraged many invertebrate, yeast and vertebrate models (rodents, birds, non-human primates, etc.) for studies in aging and age-associated diseases. Despite the extensive use of these models for aging research, there are still significant scientific gaps, which can be addressed with the use of alternative and often underutilized animal models in aging research. Within this context, aquatic species (zebra fish, freshwater turtle, annual fish, Japanese medaka, etc.) have received very limited attention from the aging research community and grant support from NIA. These models may prove to be valuable for studies involving physiology, genetics, anatomy and pathology.

In addition, short-lived common marmosets (Callithrix jacchus) appear to be useful primate models for aging studies relative to other primate models currently in use. They are small (350-400 grams) South American primates and capable of producing twins or triplets every 5.5 months. However, the marmoset model needs further development for defined phenotypes such as physical, metabolic, physiological, immunological, cognitive and psychosocial functions. Furthermore, genomic tools may have to be further developed for exploiting this model in aging research. The overall objective of this NIA-supported exploratory workshop is to assemble experts who work with these models and have them evaluate their usefulness for aging research. (For more information, contact Dr. Mahadev Murthy, DAB, 301-496-6402.)

TBI and the Risk of Dementia - August 2009
Head trauma, a frequent occurrence in the United States and other industrialized nations, is the leading cause of brain injury. Centers for Disease Control estimates suggest that at least 1.4 million people sustain a traumatic brain injury (TBI) per year in the United States, and the costs of TBI in the US are estimated to be $48 billion dollars annually. The societal burden caused by TBI may actually be much greater, as there is growing evidence that TBI is a risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and other neurodegenerative disorders. However, the exact nature of the relationship between head trauma and AD is still unclear and needs further study. The Division of Neuroscience (DN) is organizing a multidisciplinary exploratory workshop, in August 2009 in Bethesda, MD, bringing together expert clinicians, epidemiologists, geneticists and basic research scientists from the TBI and AD fields, as well as from other relevant fields, who will critically appraise the current state of knowledge on TBI and risk of AD and outline possibilities for further research. (For further information, contact: Dr. Laurie Ryan, DN, Ph: 301-496-9350; ryanl@mail.nih.gov.)

Work, Health and Retirement: Developing a Whitehall in Washington – August 2009
This BSR-supported exploratory meeting will bring together experts from the research community and the federal government to discuss research opportunities on federal workforce retirement and health. A planning teleconference will be held in May to develop the agenda for the meeting. (For more information, contact Dr. John Phillips, BSR, Ph: 301-496-3138.)

Models Systems to Study the Epigenetics of Aging and Longevity – September 2009
Understanding the role of epigenetics in tissue-specific aging and organismal longevity was identified as one of the top research priorities for DAB at the Biology of Aging Summit held in September 2008. This year NIA joined the RoadMap “Epigenetics of Health and Human Disease” RFA and several investigators have sent letters of intent regarding aging-related projects, which is very encouraging. One limitation of this RoadMap RFA is the almost exclusive focus on studying epigenetics in humans and human cell models.

With respect to understanding the role of epigenetics in aging and longevity, Summit participants highlighted the opportunity and added value to be gained from parallel studies in well-studied models systems including Drosophila, C. elegans and mice. The major goal of the planned workshop on “Model Systems to Explore the Epigenetics of Aging” is to discuss the advantages and disadvantages of these three model systems and to try to develop a coordinated and cooperative approach to studying this evolving field of research on aging. Several experts in epigenetics, genetics, biology and physiology will be invited to the planned three-day discussion-focused workshop to develop a plan for studying the epigenetics of aging and longevity. Several NIA staff will also be invited to attend due to broad NIA-based interest in epigenetics. This exploratory workshop is planned for September, 2009. (For more information, contact Dr. Anna McCormick, DAB, 301-496-6402.)

Financial Innovation and Retirement Security: From Ideas to Implementations – Sept 2009
This BSR-supported exploratory workshop will address the challenge of how to design financial products to enhance the financial security of older Americans. The nature of the risks that are faced in later life remains poorly understood. The meeting will focus on three topics: (1) Managing Longevity Risk, (2) Managing Health Costs and other Expenditure Risks, and (3) Framing and Decision-Making. (For more information, contact Dr. John Phillips, BSR, Ph: 301-496-3138.)