January 2020 Director's Status Report
Click on the links below to view sections of the January 2020 Director’s Status Report:
- Budget and Appropriations
- Legislative Update
- Staff Changes and Honors
- Institute-Sponsored Meetings, Workshops, and Conferences
- Content, Media, Outreach, and Meetings
- Relevant Notices and Initiatives Published in the NIH Guide
Budget and Appropriations
Status of FY 2020 Budget
On December 17, 2019, the House passed H.R. 1865, the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, by a vote of 297-120. On December 19, 2019, the Senate passed H.R. 1865 by a vote of 71-23. The bill was signed by the President on December 20, 2019 and provides FY 2020 appropriations to multiple agencies. Of note, the bill provides $41.7 billion for medical research at the NIH, a nearly 7 percent increase over FY 2019 funding. This funding for the NIH includes an extra $350 million for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (AD/ADRD) research, bringing NIH’s total AD/ADRD funding to $2.8 billion and NIA’s overall funding to $3.5 billion. These appropriations fund the NIH/NIA through September 30, 2020.
Legislation of Interest:
On September 26, 2019, the Senate passed, by a vote of 81-16, H.R. 4378, the Continuing Appropriations Act, 2020, and Health Extenders Act of 2019. The measure provided FY 2020 continuing appropriations to federal agencies through November 21, 2019. This passed the House on September 19, 2019 and was signed by the President on September 27, 2019.
On Oct 17, 2019, the House Science, Space, and Technology Committee ordered H.R. 1709, the Scientific Integrity Act, to be reported to the full House by a vote of 25-6. The bill, if enacted, would amend the America COMPETES Act to establish policies related to public reporting of science.
On December 12, 2019, the House passed H.R. 3, the Elijah E. Cummings Lower Drug Costs Now Act, by a recorded vote of 230-192. Of interest to NIH, the bill, as amended, would:
- Provide/extend funding for the NIH Innovation Projects authorized in the 21st Century Cures Act (All of Us, BRAIN Initiative, Cancer Moonshot, Regenerative Medicine) through 2030.
- Create a new NIH Innovation Project to support research related to combatting antimicrobial resistance and antibiotic-resistant bacteria and provide funding for FYs 2021-2030.
- Create a new NIH Innovation Project to support research on rare diseases and provide funding for FYs 2021-2030.
- Establish a Clinical Trial Accelerator pilot program at NIH to award multi-year contracts to eligible entities to support phase II clinical trials and phase III clinical trials and provide NIH with $400 million for each of FYs 2021-2025 for the program.
- Provide NIH with $240 million for each of FYs 2021-2025 to carry out activities related to:
- Accelerating research for addressing the opioid use disorder epidemic, including developing non-opioid and/or non-addictive medications and interventions to manage pain, as well as developing medications and interventions to treat and to prevent substance use disorders;
- Conducting and supporting research on which treatments (in terms of pain management as well as treating and preventing substance use disorders) are optimal for which patients; and
- Conducting and supporting research on creating longer-lasting or faster-acting antidotes for opioid overdose, particularly in response to the prevalence of fentanyl and carfentanil overdoses.
- Authorize NIH to award grants or contracts to SBIR/STTR awardees to develop, expand, and enhance the commercialization of biomedical products. The bill now goes to the Senate for consideration.
Hearings, Visits, and Other Topics of Interest:
On November 6, 2019, NIA Director Richard Hodes briefed the House and Senate Labor, HHS, and Education Appropriations Subcommittee Majority and Minority Clerks on AD/ADRD Clinical Trials.
Submitted by: Dawn Beraud, Ph.D., Health Science Policy Analyst, National Institute on Aging
Staff Changes and Honors
On September 3, 2019, Audie Atienza, Ph.D., joined the Division of Behavioral and Social Research (BSR) as a senior Program Officer whose portfolio covers behavior change, prevention research, small business research, and technology and big data applications for healthy aging. He comes to us from ICF International, where he was a senior fellow in the biomedical informatics group. He previously worked on special assignments as a Senior Advisor to the Office of the Director at NIH and to the Office of the Secretary at DHHS. From 2002-2015 he was a Program Officer at the National Cancer Institute in the Behavioral Research Program. Dr. Atienza has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Kent State University. His scientific foci include family caregiving, stress and coping, technology and health, behavioral interventions, disease prevention, real-time data capture, data science, and big data.
Dario Dieguez, Jr., Ph.D., joined the Scientific Review Branch on November 12, 2019. Before joining NIA, Dr. Dieguez worked as an IRB Manager at the Department of Veterans Affairs and, before that, as a Policy Analyst at the University of California at Berkeley School of Public Health while completing his MPH internship. He has a wide range of experience in scientific review and grant administration, having worked as a a Science Officer at the Congressionally Directed Medical Research Programs, a Scientific Program Administrator at the American Physical Therapy Association, and a Research Program Manager at the Lupus Foundation of America. Dr. Dieguez also served as the Research Program Manager at the Epilepsy Foundation for the Rare Epilepsy Network, a PCORI-funded study of the world’s largest rare epilepsy patient registry. Prior to that, he was employed as a Science Writer in the Office of the NIH Director (Elias Zerhouni), where he worked as part of the Roadmap for Medical Research team. Dr. Diequez earned a B.A. in psychology and a B.S. in neuroscience and behavioral biology from Emory University. In addition, he earned an M.S. in biology and a Ph.D. in neurobiology from the University of Texas at San Antonio. He completed a postdoctoral fellowship at Boston University and the Boston University School of Medicine.
Dr. John G. Haaga, Director of BSR, retired on December 31, 2019. He served as BSR Director from 2016 to 2019, Acting Director from 2015 to 2016, and Deputy Director from 2004 to 2015. Under his leadership, the division supported research and training grants of more than $340 million per year in behavioral, cognitive, population and social sciences, and health services research related to healthy aging, as well as age-associated diseases and conditions. He grew the research portfolio by introducing new initiatives and starting new funding streams, resulting in the funding of additional grants, centers, and networks. He encouraged staff to focus on key topics such as rural health and socioeconomic disparities. Dr. Haaga also expanded research programs in dementia care and services and grew his staff to meet the new demands. In addition, Dr. Haaga served as coordinator of the trans-NIH Common Fund program in health economics. We greatly appreciate Dr. Haaga’s steady leadership and many contributions to BSR and NIA as a whole and wish him well in retirement.
The NIA Intramural Research Program (IRP) welcomes Emmanouil Maragkakis, Ph.D., as an Earl Stadtman Tenure-Track Investigator in the Laboratory of Genetics and Genomics (LGG). Dr. Maragkakis will work under the direction of Dr. Myriam Gorospe, Senior Investigator and Chief of LGG, and will oversee the Computational Genomics Unit. Dr. Maragkakis earned his Ph.D. in 2011 from the Martin Luther University of Halle-Wittenberg, Germany, where he investigated a bioinformatic approach for microRNA target prediction and functional analysis, which he named DIANA-microT, used daily by hundreds of scientists. He then joined the University of Pennsylvania for postdoctoral training in the laboratory of Dr. Zissimos Mourelatos before taking a position as a Research Associate at the Perelman School of Medicine, University of Pennsylvania.
Sheila Parooznia, Ph.D., joined the Division of Neuroscience as a Health Specialist in the Neurobiology of Aging branch. She earned her Ph.D. in molecular biology from Drexel University. Her graduate research focused on epigenetic alterations in the chromatin structure that are mediated by the histone acetyltransferase, Tip60. These alterations initiate changes in gene expression in specific neuronal circuits and contribute to early pathophysiological changes in Alzheimer's disease. Dr. Pirooznia pursued her post-doctoral training at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Her post-doctoral research centered on identifying and characterizing the molecular mechanisms that contribute to mitochondrial dysfunctions in Parkinson's disease (PD). To this end, her work has identified seminal roles for PINK1 and parkin, proteins implicated in autosomal recessive forms of PD, in promoting mitochondrial biogenesis crucial to the survival of dopamine neurons. Her work has also identified additional factors that function in the PINK1/parkin pathway that could each serve as crucial nodal points for mechanism-based therapies in PD.
On December 22, 2019, NIA welcomed Kenneth (Ken) Santora, Ph.D., as the incoming Director of the Division of Extramural Activities (DEA), NIA. He previously directed the Office of Extramural Research Policy and Operations at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) in their DEA. Dr. Santora received his Ph.D. in immunology and pathology from the Boston University School of Medicine. His research experience focused on antibody engineering for cancer therapies and HIV-related immunology, including his work as a post-doctoral Cancer Research Training Fellow with the National Cancer Institute. He started his extramural NIH career as a Scientific Review Officer at NIAID in 2003, then became the NIAID DEA Policy Officer in 2010 and was named Chief of both the Extramural Science Policy and the Extramural Science Operations Sections there in 2012.
Norman E. “Ned” Sharpless, MD, who became Director of the National Cancer Institute (NCI) on October 17, 2017, previously established a lab at NIA in 2018. From April 5, 2019 to November 1, 2019, he served as the Acting Commissioner at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) while a permanent candidate was sought. Dr. Sharpless has recently returned to NCI and has decided to close his laboratory at NIA. He will continue to actively collaborate with many of our investigators.
Andrew Singleton, Ph.D., NIH Distinguished Investigator and Chief, Laboratory of Neurogenetics, was recently honored by the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research (MJFF). Dr. Singleton is the recipient of the 2019 Robert A. Pritzker Prize for Leadership in Parkinson's Research. MJFF CEO Todd Sherer, Ph.D.., said: “Dr. Singleton’s work has changed how we think about the causes and contributors to Parkinson’s disease. His discoveries in Parkinson’s genetics have identified novel targets that today are the basis for transformative treatments in human testing, and his dedication to collaboration and training a new generation of geneticists is laying the groundwork for future breakthroughs.” Since 2011, the Pritzker Prize has been awarded annually and was established by Karen Pritzker, daughter of Robert A. Pritzker, and her late husband, investor Michael Vlock. As the winner of this prestigious award, Dr. Singleton will receive a $100,000 research grant. Gift funds are pending Ethics approval.
Dr. Luke Stoeckel joined BSR on September 15, 2019, as a Program Officer with responsibility for research in affective, social, and decision neuroscience of aging, as well as basic and translational research on motivation, behavioral phenotypes, and mechanisms of behavior change relevant to both normal aging and AD/ADRD. Prior to joining BSR, he was the Director of the Cognitive and Clinical Neuroscience of Obesity and Diabetes program at the Naitnoal Insitute of Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK). He also participates in trans-NIH activities and programs, including the NIH Science of Behavior Change Common Fund program, AD/ADRD-related activities, and the BRAIN Initiative. Prior to joining NIH, Dr. Stoeckel was the Director of Clinical Neuroscience at the Massachusetts General Hospital Center for Addiction Medicine, Assistant Professor of Psychology in the Department of Psychiatry at the Harvard Medical School, and a Visiting Scientist at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He was awarded a Ph.D. in Medical Psychology from the University of Alabama at Birmingham.
Jean (Xin) Yuan, Ph.D., joined the Division of Neuroscience (DN) as the Project Director managing the portfolio in translational bioinformatics. She was trained in clinical pathology, computer science, and bioinformatics. Prior to coming to NIA, she served as a Scientific Review Officer, Center for Scientific Review, managing grants in biomedical computing and health informatics, as well as SBIR/STTR grants in mobile health and smart devices. Prior to that, she led the effort in data-driven policy analysis at OD/NIH, and the program in -omics and precision medicine for drug discovery and clinical trial studies at GlaxoSmithKline (GSK).
Institute-Sponsored Meetings, Workshops, and Conferences
A GEROCENTRIC APPROACH TO HEART FAILURE WITH PRESERVED EJECTION FRACTION (HFPEF) IN OLDER ADULTS: ELUCIDATING AND TARGETING EXTRA-CARDIAC MECHANISMS – Bethesda, MD – September 12-13, 2019
The NIA’s Division of Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology, in collaboration with the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), has launched an initiative focusing on potential extracardiac contributors to heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFpEF) in older adults. This initiative stems from recent advances in the study of:
- Age-related changes in peripheral skeletal muscle, vasculature, sarcopenia/myosteatosis, and mitochondria/bioenergetics;
- Age-related alterations in adipose/body composition/insulin sensitivity; and
- HFpEF-focused cardiology.
To accelerate research in this complex, transdisciplinary area, NIA hosted a focused, one-and-a-half-day workshop in Bethesda, MD to convene research leaders with expertise in these three scientific fields. The goals of this meeting were:
- To provide brief state-of-science updates on the impact of advancing age on peripheral skeletal muscle structure/function, bioenergetics, vasculature, insulin sensitivity and adipose tissue in relation to fatigue, exercise intolerance, and HFpEF in older adults.
- To explore new transdisciplinary research opportunities to elucidate the role of these aging-related extracardiac changes in exercise intolerance and HFpEF.
- To propose research opportunities to identify and test potential therapeutic targets based on extracardiac age-related changes to improve exercise capacity and HFpEF symptoms and prognosis.
- To identify key research gaps and propose transdisciplinary research goals to elucidate the potential role(s) of extracardiac contribution(s) to the pathophysiology and potential therapy of HFpEF in older adults by stimulating cross-field scientific discussion, networking, and collaboration amongst investigators.
For additional information, contact Ms. Winifred Rossi.
NAS BOARD ON BEHAVIORAL, COGNITIVE, AND SENSORY SCIENCES (BBCSS) EXPERT MEETING ON EMPATHY AND COMPASSION: LEVERAGING BASIC RESEARCH TO INFORM INTERVENTION DEVELOPMENT – Washington, D.C. – September 16-17, 2019
This National Academy of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine (NASEM)-organized expert meeting explored the development of interventions to promote the health and well-being of care providers while improving the quality of the care that they provide. It explored recent advances in measuring and understanding the basic behavioral, affective, and cognitive processes involved in all types of empathy, compassion, and prosocial behavior. The goal of the meeting was to identify future directions that incorporate basic findings, principles, and concepts into research on the development of interventions aimed at optimizing the amount and type of empathy and compassion care providers experience and express, with the ultimate goal of promoting the health and well-being of care providers while improving the quality of the care that they provide.
For additional information, contact Dr. Lisa Onken: 301-496-3136.
SENESCENCE IN BRAIN AGING AND ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE – Bethesda, MD – September 18-19, 2019
The goal of this NIA-sponsored, one-and-a-half-day workshop was to bring together experts in the fields of senescence, aging, and neurodegeneration to highlight recent research advances, assess the state of the science, and evaluate the challenges and opportunities for furthering research in this area. The workshop agenda included sessions on: (1) systemic factors, senescence, and brain aging; (2) non-neuronal cells, senescence, and brain aging; and (3) senescence in AD/ADRD. The research gaps and opportunities identified from this workshop will help inform future NIA-related activities in this area.
For additional information, contact Dr. Amanda DiBattista.
VIRUSES AND TRANSPOSABLE GENETIC ELEMENTS IN NEURODEGENERATIVE DISEASES – Bethesda, MD – September 23-24, 2019
NIA and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) jointly sponsored a workshop on viruses and transposable genetic elements in neurodegenerative diseases. The workshop brought together researchers from academia, government, and industry to review the state of the science, discuss knowledge gaps, and identify priorities for future research on transposable elements and their contribution to Alzheimer’s disease, aging, and other neurodegenerative diseases. The workshop was organized in four sessions: 1) mechanisms of activation of transposable elements in neurodegenerative disorders; 2) challenges in bioinformatics and sequencing of transposable elements; 3) retroviral elements in neurodegenerative diseases; and 4) transposable elements in aging, infections, and inflammation in neurodegenerative diseases. The workshop participants made recommendations on future research priorities regarding the role of transposable elements in disease mechanisms and as an avenue for translational and clinical research. Eliezer Masliah, NIA DN Director, and Avindra Nath, NINDS Clinical Director, led the workshop. Participants included intramural and extramural researchers and program staff from NIA and NINDS.
For more information, contact Dr. Jean Tiong-Koehler.
IMPACT OF AGED IMMUNE SYSTEM ON WOUND HEALING PROCESS – Rockville, MD – September 23-24, 2019
This one-and-a-half-day workshop was a joint effort between NIAID and NIA. The purpose was to bring together experts studying the role of the immune system in wound healing to discuss current and future needs. Wound healing is a complex process aimed at restoring tissue integrity and function. It encompasses several overlapping events, including the recruitment of inflammatory cells (local and systemic), activation of local stem cell populations, homing of circulating progenitors, epithelialization, matrix deposition, and ultimately resolution of inflammation with the scar formation. Advanced age is associated with alterations in innate and adaptive immune responses, which may play a significant role in the impairment of wound resolution in the elderly, resulting in an increased incidence of chronic wounds and wound infection in this population. Current knowledge in the field is limited on how different aspects of aging may affect wound healing, but the current workshop focused specifically on the role of altered inflammatory and innate immune responses. Participants were asked to identify key gaps in our understanding of immune factors that contribute to delayed wound healing in aged tissues. The relevance of various aged animal models as experimental systems to address these questions was addressed, as well as mechanisms that link aging and development of the inflammatory phenotype to impaired wound healing. This meeting was held at NIAID auditorium at Fisher’s Lane in Rockville, MD.
For additional information, contact Dr. Rebecca Fuldner.
INAUGURAL ANNUAL NIDA/NIA SPECIAL LECTURE SERIES – Baltimore, MD – September 24, 2019
The inaugural National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)/ NIA Special Lecture Series was held in the Biomedical Research Center (BRC) Atrium on Tuesday, September 24, 2019. The speaker, Dr. Travis Rieder, is the Director of the Master of Bioethics Degree Program; the Assistant Director for Education Initiatives; and a Research Scholar at the Berman Institute of Bioethics, Johns Hopkins University. He was recently featured on NPR’s Fresh Air with Terry Gross and is the author of the book “In Pain: A Bioethicist’s Personal Struggle with Opioids.” The lecture was entitled “The opioid dilemma: what becoming a patient taught me about America’s overdose epidemic.” The symposium was co-sponsored by NIA and NIDA.
JOINT MEETING OF THE RESILIENCE-AD AND M2OVE-AD CONSORTIA – Bethesda, MD – October 7-8, 2019
NIA hosted a joint meeting of the Molecular Mechanism of the Vascular Etiology of Alzheimer’s Disease (M2OVE-AD) and Resilience in Alzheimer’s Disease research teams on October 8-9, 2019. Held at the Rockledge II meeting facility, the goal of the meeting was to convene the two consortia to discuss opportunities for potential collaboration, including lessons learned from various animal and iPSC models (i.e., mouse and drosophila), generation of metabolomics/lipidomics data, integration across imaging, and single cell profiling. The program staff will plan to hold another meeting of the two consortia in Fall 2020.
For additional information, contact Dr. Suzana Petanceska.
THE 11TH ANNUAL BALTIMORE FELLOWS SYMPOSIUM (BFS) – Baltimore, MD – October 10, 2019
The highlight of the symposium was a keynote address by Ann M. Graybiel, Ph.D., Institute Professor at the McGovern Institute for Brain Research in the Department of Brain and Cognitive Sciences at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. Her talk was entitled, “Basal ganglia and value-based decision-making.” The symposium was co-sponsored by NIA and NIDA and hosted at the Biomedical Research Center.
NAS WORKSHOP ON INCORPORATING THE EXPERIMENTAL MEDICINE APPROACH IN THE DEVELOPMENT OF PRIMARY PREVENTION TRIALS FOR ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE – Washington, D.C. – October 10-11, 2019
The National Alzheimer’s Plan Act (NAPA) includes a specific milestone for NIA to undertake primary prevention trials for AD/ADRD beginning in middle age. This recommendation stems from the realization that many social and behavioral risk factors for dementias would best be addressed prior to the initiation of neuropathologic processes, which themselves may begin decades before frank cognitive impairment is observed. This NASEM-organized meeting explored how insights generated from the science of behavior change, in particular the experimental medicine approach, regarding long-term adherence to lifestyle changes, including physical activity, can be incorporated into the design and conduct of these primary prevention efforts to identify the mechanisms that promote adherence to behavioral interventions that hold the potential to prevent cognitive decline.
For additional information, contact Dr. Jonathan King.
SECOND WORKSHOP OF THE NASEM COMMITTEE DEVELOPING A BEHAVIORAL AND SOCIAL SCIENCE RESEARCH AGENDA ON ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE AND ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE-RELATED DEMENTIAS – Washington, D.C. – October 17, 2019
NIA is the main sponsor of the Decadal Survey of AD/ADRD Research on Behavioral and Social Science Research that is coordinated by NASEM. The first part of the workshop consisted of presentations of commissioned papers that address data on disease prevalence, interventions for individuals living with AD/ADRD and for caregivers, health disparities, health economics and public policy, and defining types of dementia. The second part of the workshop included presentations on measuring the effects of caregiving. Time for public comment rounded out the workshop agenda.
For additional information, contact Dr. Elena Fazio.
THE 30TH ANNUAL NATHAN W. SHOCK AWARD LECTURE – Baltimore, MD – October 17, 2019
The Award was created in 1991 to honor Dr. Nathan Shock, the Father of American Gerontology, and was organized in an effort to increase collaborations within the aging research field. The 2019 awardee, Dr. Matt Kaeberlein, presented a talk and met with staff. Dr. Steven N. Austad, winner of the 1994 award, also spoke as part of the 30th anniversary celebration. The symposium was sponsored by NIA.
NAS COMMITTEE ON POPULATION (CPOP) FOURTH MEETING ON RISING MIDLIFE MORTALITY AND SOCIOECONOMIC DISPARITIES – Washington, D.C. – October 21, 2019
The final open meeting of the Committee on Rising Midlife Mortality Rates and Socioeconomic Disparities included a presentation from Jennifer Silva (University of Indiana-Bloomington) on qualitative and ethnographic insights into the relationships between hopelessness, despair, and health. Kathleen Frydl provided an in-depth analysis of opioids in the United States over the past two decades with a focus on historical, political, and regulatory events. The final report from the Committee is expected Fall 2020.
For additional information, please contact Dr. Amelia Karraker: 301-496-3136.
NAS WORKSHOP ON SOCIAL SCIENCE MODELING FOR BIG DATA – Washington, D.C. – October 24-25, 2019
BSR supported this NASEM-organized meeting to identify ways that big data and machine learning can be used to enhance social science research in aging. Data are being produced and stored at an unprecedented rate from an increasing number of sources, including surveys, social media (e.g., Facebook, Twitter, Instagram), sensors (e.g., Fitbit, Apple Watch), smartphones, electronic health records (EHRs), federal and state program data (e.g., Medicare and Medicaid claims data), and data from other commercial aggregators (e.g., mint.com). This workshop provided insight into the possibilities of integrating machine learning algorithms within the big data framework into the study of behavioral and social processes related to aging, while carefully considering disclosure and privacy risks. Specific questions addressed included: What needs to be done so that social scientists can leverage these methods in the study of aging? Where have these techniques been successfully applied in research, and how can they be applied to health economics and health services research? What questions should social scientists consider before embracing big data or machine learning in their research (i.e., is there a need for new method development)? A meeting summary is being produced and will be made available to the public via the NIA website in early 2020.
For additional information, please contact Dr. Partha Bhattacharyya: 301-496-3136.
FUTURE CLINICAL TRIALS TO TEST PROMISING APPROACHES FOR REDUCING VASCULAR CONTRIBUTIONS TO COGNITIVE IMPAIRMENT AND DEMENTIA – Bethesda, MD – November 4-5, 2019
The main goal of this workshop was to determine if there are compelling research opportunities for clinical trials that test single or combined interventions for the primary and secondary prevention of vascular contributions to cognitive impairment and dementia (VCID). The workshop was co-organized by NHLBI, NINDS, and NIA. The participants from academia and government were experts in VCID and AD/ADRD lifestyle and multimodal trials. Discussions that occurred in the workshop will inform potential follow-up activities related to the SPRINT-MIND trial.
For more information, contact Dr. Kristina McLinden.
GEROSCIENCE SUMMIT III “TARGETING CHRONIC DISEASES THROUGH GEROSCIENCE: NIH GEROSCIENCE SUMMIT 2019” – Bethesda, MD – November 4-6, 2019
The purpose of the third Geroscience Summit organized by the trans-NIH Geroscience Interest Group (GSIG)—“Targeting Chronic Diseases Through Geroscience: NIH Geroscience Summit 2019”—was to provide a forum for novel interactions between disease-focused professional societies and foundations and the community of researchers and practitioners of geroscience.
Specific goals were to:
- Ensure that participants are aware of the potential role of aging biology as a major risk factor in the etiology of the age-related disease of their focus and the potential benefits of geroscience approaches for treatment of those diseases.
- Identify ways in which advocacy groups and research societies or foundations can incorporate age and aging into their portfolios and outreach activities.
- Survey the current status of regulatory issues related to geroscience.
The agenda was informed by input gathered through an NIH Request for Information (RFI) published in April 2018.
For additional information, contact Dr. Felipe Sierra, 301-451-4515 and Dr. Ronald Kohanski, 301-402-0836.
SYMPOSIUM ON “IMPACT OF AGING ON TISSUE RESIDENT IMMUNE CELLS” AT THE 52nd SOCIETY FOR LEUKOCYTE BIOLOGY (SLB) ANNUAL MEETING – Boston, MA – November 15, 2019
The purpose of the symposium was to highlight recent advances in aging-related changes in the function of tissue resident immune cells at a national meeting. The speakers were asked to give a 30-minute presentation on their recent research findings, with an emphasis on how their findings relate to the area of aging and immunity research. The symposium was chaired by Division of Aging Biology (DAB) program staff.
For additional information, contact Dr. Rebecca Fuldner: 301-402-7748.
NAS WORKSHOP ON FUTURE DIRECTIONS IN SOCIAL AND AFFECTIVE NEUROSCIENCE OF AGING – Washington, D.C. – November 18-19, 2019
This NASEM-organized workshop took stock of research advances over a decade of NIA investment in the fields of social and affective neuroscience of aging to articulate the most promising new directions for the field. Participants examined evidence of emotional changes in aging in light of advances in emotion theory, current understanding of life-course emotional development (including the impact of early-life adversity), and current understanding of neurobiological and physiological changes associated with normal aging that have relevance to emotional and social functions.
For additional information, contact Dr. Lisbeth Nielsen.
OPTIMAL USE OF MICE AND RATS IN AGING RESEARCH – Bethesda, MD – December 10-11, 2019
Rodent models have greatly contributed to seminal advances on aging research, including our understanding of the life-lengthening potential of specific genetic mutations; calorie restriction; and drug interventions such as rapamycin, acarbose, and 17a-estradiol. Their full potential, however, has been limited by inconsistent reproducibility, traceable in part to differences in environmental conditions such as handling, housing, diet, and water supply, to name a few. This challenge may be even more severe in studies of old animals, for which age-related diseases and loss of resilience can amplify the effects of such factors. This meeting was aimed at developing an understanding of current best practices for working with rodents for aging research, with the goal of improving standardization on what is working well and correcting problem areas that might impede progress in this field.
For additional information, contact Dr. Francesca Macchiarini: 301-827-4013.
NAS WORKSHOP ON MOBILE TECHNOLOGY FOR ADAPTIVE AGING – Washington, D.C. – December 11-12, 2019
The promise of mobile devices and sensor technologies to deliver just-in-time prompts, reminders, and interventions has been relatively underexplored in the aging context. To the extent that we are beginning to see real success stories for intervention in other age groups, how should we adapt these to target midlife and aging populations? What should we anticipate as being the key barriers to progress in this area? What changes in the design of these applications would make them more appropriate for users across a wide range of cognitive function? And how can we use technology to improve population health? This NASEM-organized workshop explored these, and other questions, related to mobile technology.
For additional information, please contact Dr. Jonathan King: 301-496-3136.
THE AGING ADRENAL GLAND – February 26-27, 2020
The purpose of this workshop will be to discuss recent advances in aging research targeting the adrenal gland, including a focus on the effects of the hormones it secretes and crosstalk with other organ systems. Speakers will discuss their recent findings on the basic mechanisms that regulate aging of the adrenal gland, how aging changes the quantity and quality of its secreted factors, and how these changes affect functioning in other organs.
For additional information, contact Dr. Candace Kerr, 301-827-4474 and Dr. John Williams, 301-496-6403.
NEUROGENESIS AND AGING – Bethesda, MD – March 16-17, 2020
The goal of this NIA-sponsored, one-and-a-half-day workshop is to bring together experts in neurogenesis to review the current state of the science, discuss the extrinsic and intrinsic factors affecting neurogenesis in the aging brain, and debate the functional significance of adult neurogenesis in the context of aging. A mix of researchers using animal models, human pathology, and clinical perspectives on this topic will explore how aging research in this field might be facilitated by emerging theories and approaches. The goal is to foster new collaborations and directions that may yield innovative strategies in aging research, ultimately improving the health and well-being of older adults. The workshop agenda includes sessions on: (1) neurogenesis in the adult human brain, (2) extrinsic and intrinsic factors controlling neurogenesis in the aging brain, and (3) functional significance of adult neurogenesis.
ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE SEQUENCING PROJECT PROGRAM REVIEW – Miami, FL – March 16-17, 2020
In previous years, the Alzheimer’s Disease Sequencing Project (ADSP) researchers have concentrated on recruiting large, multi-ethnic cohorts; sequencing the genomes; and building infrastructure. Augmented funding and consequent availability of increased sample sizes have, in turn, increased statistical power, boosting gene discovery in 2019. The following major observations have recently been reported by AD geneticists to the ADSP advisors:
- There is now strong evidence that AD is a genetic disease.
- AD is not one entity; it is a genetic spectrum with a number of sub-phenotypes.
- More than 30 regions of the genome contain risk factor genes for late-onset AD.
- The majority of the signals for AD are rare or very rare variants not located in the region of the genome that encodes gene activity; most variants are found in the “non-coding” regions of the genome—that is, in the sections of the genome that modify gene activity.
- Whole genome and whole exome sequence data analysis identified numerous genomic regions that overlap with signals generated in other types of genetic studies, such as genome wide association studies (GWAS).
- Particular cellular pathways, such as inflammation, lipid metabolism, and amyloid deposition are an important part of the etiology of the disease.
- Clusters of genes are found in common pathways with similar functions; these gene clusters contribute to AD risk. “Genetic hubs” point toward common functions that are perturbed in AD/ADRD, including the amyloid precursor processing pathway, cholesterol metabolism, neuroinflammation, cellular immunity, and endocytosis (transport of molecules into the cell).
These observations demonstrate the complexity of the genetics of AD and the challenges involved in genetic data analysis. The availability of large amounts of data from multi-ethnic populations brings NIH closer to identifying genetic variants associated with risk of and protection from AD within specific populations.
An ADSP Program Review will be held on March 16 and 17 to update advisors on the latest research findings and infrastructure reports. An extensive discussion is anticipated on how initiatives on data harmonization, functional genomics, and machine learning can best be integrated into the existing infrastructure of the ADSP.
For more information, contact Dr. Marilyn Miller.
NATIONAL RESEARCH SUMMIT ON CARE, SERVICES, AND SUPPORTS FOR PERSONS WITH DEMENTIA AND THEIR CAREGIVERS – Bethesda, MD – March 24-26, 2020
This research summit will bring together individuals with a variety of backgrounds to identify evidence-based programs, strategies, approaches, and other research that can be used to improve the care, services, and supports of persons with dementia and their caregivers. This summit differs from other AD summits in that it is focused on research to improve the quality of care and outcomes, including the lived experience, across care settings for persons with dementia and their caregivers (rather than focusing on biomedical research or pharmacological interventions to address AD). The Summit includes a focus on non-pharmacological or “care” interventions that may improve outcomes for persons with dementia and their caregivers. It is expected that this summit will produce recommendations for research priorities that will inform federal entities, including HHS and the NIH, public and private foundations, industry, researchers, and other organizations.
For additional information, contact Dr. Elena Fazio: 301-496-3136.
SYMPOSIUM ON “TARGETING CANCER IN THE AGING” AT NCI’S CANCER-AGING INTEREST GROUP (CAIG) – April 2-3, 2020
NCI’s Cancer-Aging Interest Group (CAIG) will organize a symposium on cancer and senescence in older adults. NIA has been involved in the activities of the CAIG, and DAB will participate and organize a session in the symposium. The purpose of this symposium is to increase the awareness of this understudied area and identify gaps in knowledge and future directions of research as it relates to geriatric oncology. The objectives are (1) to discuss the molecular mechanisms of aging as a major risk factor in cancer biology; (2) to discuss cancer prevention in older adults, presenting potential trade-offs between cancer and other diseases; and (3) to evaluate treatment criteria and tolerability in older adults.
For additional information, contact Dr. Max Guo: 301-402-7747.
SYMPOSIUM ON “INTEGRATIVE PHYSIOLOGY OF CARDIAC AGING” AT THE ANNUAL MEETING OF THE EXPERIMENTAL BIOLOGY – April 7, 2020
The purpose of the symposium is to highlight recent advances in aging-related changes in the physiological interactions of organs at the annual meeting of the Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology national meeting. This symposium will focus on the hallmarks of aging in the heart. Recent findings show diverse mechanisms that support a role for several aging hallmarks, including inflammatory, oxidative stress and metabolic dysfunction that contribute to cardiac aging. This Featured Topic session will discuss cutting-edge research on the cellular mechanisms of aging that contribute to the pathological features of cardiac aging and heart failure.
For additional information, contact Dr. Candace Kerr, 301-827-4474 and Dr. John Williams, 301-496-6403.
THE 25TH ANNUAL NIA/IRP SCIENTIFIC RETREAT – Baltimore, MD – April 27-28, 2020.
The two-day, NIA-sponsored event will be hosted at the Biomedical Research Center. It will feature two large poster sessions, brief talks from IRP scientists, and a keynote address from Dr. Sunil Kumar, Provost and Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs at Johns Hopkins University.
RETROTRANSPOSABLE ELEMENTS IN AGING AND LONGEVITY: THE MECHANISMS – Bethesda, MD – April 2020
Aging is a process involving many changes to chromatin, including epigenetic modification and structural modulation of chromosomes. Research in the past decade have shown the activation of retrotransposable elements during aging in several model systems. Recently, some publications suggest a potentially very interesting mechanism linking the activation of retrotransposable elements to the pathogenesis of aging and aging diseases, with a possible connection to senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP) and immune response. This workshop will evaluate this area, with a focus on the relevant molecular mechanisms and looking to other pathways important for aging and longevity. The goals of this workshop are to evaluate the status of the field, to define future directions, to evaluate critical needs, and to outline opportunities for the basic research in this area supported by NIA. The workshop will be held in April of 2020 in Bethesda, Maryland.
For additional information, contact Dr. Max Guo: 301-402-7747.
NIA-SPONSORED SYMPOSIUM AT THE ANNUAL MEETING OF THE AMERICAN ASSOCIATION OF IMMUNOLOGY (AAI) – Honolulu, HI – May 12, 2020
This NIA-sponsored symposium will be held at the American Association of Immunologists annual meeting on May 8-12, 2020 in Honolulu, HI. The NIA has sponsored a symposium at this venue each year to highlight recent findings in the area of immunity and aging, and this year’s session is entitled “Microbiome Alterations with Aging.”
The purpose of this symposium is to have presentations on state-of-the-science findings on this research topic.
For additional information, contact Dr. Rebecca Fuldner: 301-402-7748.
SYMPOSIUM ON “NONHUMAN PRIMATES AS A MODEL FOR AGING” AT THE 43rd MEETING OF THE AMERICAN SOCIETY OF PRIMATOLOGISTS – Denver, CO – May 2020
The purpose of this symposium at the American Society of Primatology annual meeting in Denver, CO, May 28-31, 2020 is to highlight recent advances in the use of certain nonhuman primates in aging research at a national meeting. The speakers have been asked to give a 30-minute presentation on their recent research findings, with an emphasis on how their research relates to the area of human aging. The symposium will be chaired by DAB program staff.
For additional information, contact Dr. Manuel Moro: 301-480-1796.
THE FOURTEENTH ANNUAL DIVISION OF AGING BIOLOGY NEW INVESTIGATORS FORUM (DABNIF) – June 29-30, 2020
The purpose of the forum is to bring together new awardees (i.e. Principal Investigators who are new to funding by DAB) in the spring/summer of the year following their award to meet and interact with NIA program staff as well as to allow participants to network with each other. To accommodate the large number of participants, each new PI will present a poster describing the planned research (or results to date). In addition to a keynote speaker, sessions will include short “elevator speech” presentations by new awardees, as well as presentations by DAB staff and NIA leadership, on topics such as the scope of the science supported by DAB, funding mechanisms, grant review issues, and other related topics. The format will also provide a significantly expanded opportunity for networking among the investigators and plenty of opportunities for interactions with NIA staff. The overriding goal of the meeting is to encourage continued success for the new PIs as well as encourage interactions and collaborations. The format of this forum has been adjusted to reflect the 2019 forum participants’ evaluation.
For additional information, contact Dr. Manuel Moro: 301-480-1796.
WHEN DOES AGING BEGIN? GSA PRECONFERENCE WORKSHOP – Philadelphia, PA – November 4, 2020
In research on the biology of aging, and in geroscience, we are often concerned with questions such as: When is aging detectable? Is there a point of no return in aging? Is it possible to slow the rate of aging? This workshop will address a different, but related, question: “When does aging begin?” The objectives are to air hypotheses about the start and origins of aging in the life-course and to discuss how these hypotheses might be tested, experimentally. There are multiple theories on the underlying causes of aging. These include (oxidative) damage accumulation; antagonistic pleiotropy; disposable soma; (neuro)endocrine control of the pace of aging; mutation accumulation; rate-of-living; and replicative senescence. Some of these might be advanced if we knew when aging begins. Investigators from within and outside the field of aging biology will make brief presentations on their hypotheses and then challenge each other’s proposals, through a guided panel discussion. One or more theories on when aging begins, with concepts about experimental support, might emerge from these discussions. As with any theory of aging, the outcomes might suggest new areas of research.
For additional information, contact Dr. Ronald Kohanski: 301-402-0836.
Content, Media, Outreach, and Meetings
Print Publications (Booklets, Fact Sheets, and DVDs):
- Fatigue: More Than Being Tired AgePage (508 PDF posted)
- Healthy Eating After 50 AgePage (508 PDF posted)
- Flyer for Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centers Oct. 2019 meeting
- Frequently Asked Questions About Caregiving
- Tips for Living Alone with Early-Stage Dementia
- What Do We Know About Diet and Prevention of Alzheimer’s Disease?
- Exercise Safety Videos (finalized production, August 2019)—a six-part series focused on different aspects of older adult health and fitness, such as climate-specific safety and activities like biking and walking. The series features older adult volunteers and is narrated by an NIA Office of Communications and Public Liaison (OCPL) staff member
- What is Geroscience? The Complex Interplay Between Aging and Disease (9/9/19)
- "Nothing About Us Without Us" Older Adults and Clinical Trials, Collaboration with ResearchMatch (10/8/19)
- Retirement: A chance to share gratitude, advice, regrets from my time at NIA (12/18/19)
- Anticipating an avalanche of applications: Alzheimer's and Related Dementias-focused supplements for non-Alzheimer's grants (12/11/19)
- Innovative ideas and investigators wanted for Alzheimer's and Related Dementias research (12/4/19)
- The Neighborhood Atlas—Free social determinants of health data for all! (11/20/19)
- New and Early-Career Researchers: Catalyze your career with the Butler-Williams Scholars Program in 2020! (11/13/19)
- Austin City Limits: Join NIA at GSA! (11/6/19)
- The path to program projects has been cleared—take a look! (10/30/19)
- Attention health hackers: Global initiative will fund innovation where it’s needed most (10/23/19)
- Participate in the second research summit on dementia care, caregiving and services! (10/2/19)
- Cleared concepts: A crystal ball for likely future funding initiatives (9/25/19)
- Time flies: Register today for the third geroscience summit! (9/18/19)
- Exploring the unexpected: What can we learn from lucidity in dementia? (9/11/19)
- Supporting the best science mean supporting diverse talent (9/4/19)
- When it comes to data and resources, to share is divine (and now required) (8/21/19)
Media & Outreach
Press Releases and Research Highlights
NIA posted and distributed the following press releases:
- Unique case of disease resistance reveals possible Alzheimer’s treatment (11/4/19)
- Could taking statins prevent dementia, disability? (10/23/19)
- Frontotemporal lobar degeneration consortium combines and continues research efforts (10/16/19)
- Winners announced for National Institute on Aging dementia care coordination challenge (10/7/19)
- NIH-funded translational research centers to speed, diversify Alzheimer’s drug discovery (10/1/19)
- New research collaboratory designed to spur innovation and improve dementia care (9/10/19)
- Intensive blood pressure control may slow age-related brain damage (8/13/19)
NIA posted the following featured research:
- Deaths in middle-aged adults drive decrease in U.S. life expectancy (12/19/19)
- Aging research: Blood proteins show your age (12/17/19)
- Study with centenarians finds novel protein signature of protective APOE genotype (12/12/19)
- Further evidence that controlling high blood pressure can reduce dementia, Alzheimer’s risk (12/5/19)
- Lower handgrip strength associated with cognitive impairment (11/21/19)
- Fragmented physical activity linked to higher risk of death in older adults (11/14/19)
- Tau tangles linked to smaller brain regions and falling cognitive test scores in healthy older adults (11/7/19)
- Mouse-brain model maps spread of alpha-synuclein in Parkinson’s disease (10/31/19)
- Frequent social contact in midlife may reduce dementia risk, Whitehall II study analysis shows (10/28/19)
- Cardiovascular health status at age 50 linked to dementia risk in later life (10/17/19)
- Blood test method may predict amyloid deposits in brain, potentially indicating Alzheimer’s disease (10/10/19)
- Hairpins, beta sheets and fuzzy coats: Tau structure comes into clearer focus (10/3/19)
- Gene therapy shows promise repairing brain tissue damaged by stroke (9/26/19)
- Poor sleep in middle age linked to late-life Alzheimer's-related brain changes (9/12/19)
- New study points to targetable protective factor in Alzheimer’s disease (9/11/19)
- From ‘trash’ to treasure: Exosomes could shape a blood test for early detection of Alzheimer’s (9/5/19)
- Markers of abnormal liver function linked to Alzheimer’s disease (8/30/19)
- Machine learning method enables quick analysis of amyloid plaques (8/22/19)
- New hippocampal neurons continue to form in older adults, including those with MCI, Alzheimer’s (8/15/19)
- Parkinson’s study in mice highlights importance of motor learning in combination with dopamine replacement (8/8/19)
- Healthy lifestyle associated with lower risk of dementia independent of genetic risk, study finds (8/1/19)
- @Alzheimers_NIH Twitter followers now total 11,490
- NIHAging Facebook has 15,076 followers
- YouTube SEO project resulted in increased views and watch time for all optimized videos, and in November 2019, NIA YouTube videos received over 128,000 views.
- NIA sent more than 100 emails from 8/1/2019–12/31/2019 to the following email lists:
- Fitness Tips: 27,577 subscribers
- Coach Tips: 20,617 subscribers
- Healthy Aging Highlights: 33,448 subscribers
- Alzheimer’s News & Announcements: 24,102 subscribers
- Alzheimer’s Recruitment Resources: 16,002 subscribers
- Alzheimer’s Clinical Trials: 16,744 subscribers
- NIA for Caregivers: 13,966 subscribers
- Inside NIA Blog: 16,929 subscribers
- NIA Funding Opportunities: 8,453 subscribers
Meetings and Exhibits
Meetings with Professional Organizations
- Friends of the NIA (FoNIA), October 2019 – Drs. Richard Hodes and Marie Bernard, along with senior NIA staff, met with FoNIA leadership to provide an update on recent scientific advances funded by NIA. NIA staff from each division were able to highlight a range of findings that move aging research forward.
- Endocrine Society, October 2019 – Drs. Richard Hodes and Marie Bernard, along with other NIA staff, met with representatives from the Endocrine Society. Topics discussed included NIA’s budget, funding opportunities, and intersections between Alzheimer’s disease and endocrinology.
- NIA Regional Meeting in Maine, November 2019 – Drs. Richard Hodes, Marie Bernard, and other senior NIA staff met with a broad range of researchers and trainees from several research institutions in the surrounding area. Attendees learned more about the organization of NIA and the many training and research opportunities available.
- NIA/VA meeting, December 2019 – Drs. Richard Hodes, Marie Bernard, and various NIA staff met with VA staff to share programmatic updates. Meeting participants discussed joint interests and initiatives and provided status updates regarding several ongoing projects.
Exhibits and Conferences
- Gerontological Society of America (GSA) Annual Scientific Meeting, November 13-17, Austin, TX
- U.S. Department of State’s Health and Wellness Program, October 31, Washington, D.C.
(For more information about NIA’s content, media, outreach, or conferences or exhibits, contact Cindy McConnell, Director, OCPL, 301-435-0024. For more information about NIA’s professional meetings, contact Dr. Melinda Kelley, Legislative Officer, 301-451-8835.)
NEW NOTICES AND INITIATIVES RELEVANT TO THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON AGING
For ‘Notices’ and ‘Research Initiatives’ with NIA’s participation or interest please visit the NIA Grants & Funding page and NIH Funding Policies page (please look for ‘Recent Changes in NIH Policy’ on this web link).