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January 2021 Director's Status Report

Click on the links below to view sections of the January 2021 Director's Status Report:

Budget and Appropriations

Status of the FY 2021 Budget

FY 2021 Update

On December 21, 2020, the House passed H.R. 133, the Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2021, by votes of 327 to 85 and 359 to 53. The Senate passed the bill later the same night by a vote of 92 to 6 and the President signed the bill into law on December 27, 2020. The appropriations bill funds NIH at $42.9 billion for FY21 and provides $3.899 billion for NIA. The NIA FY21 level includes two increases to the NIA base: an increase of 1.57% over FY20 in addition to an increase of $300 million over the FY20 level for Alzheimer’s disease. The FY21 budget increases the overall NIH enacted funding level for Alzheimer’s disease research to $3.1 billion (est.). These appropriations fund the NIH/NIA through September 30, 2021.

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Legislative Update

January 2021

Legislation of Interest:

COVID-19 Relief
On October 1, 2020, the House passed a revised version of the HEROES Act. The bill, if enacted, would make emergency supplemental appropriations for the fiscal year ending September 30, 2021, and for other purposes. The bill provides $2.2 trillion in coronavirus relief funding, including $4.7 billion for the National Institutes of Health to expand COVID-19-related research on the NIH campus and at academic institutions across the country and to support the shutdown and startup costs of biomedical research laboratories nationwide. Other sections of interest to NIH are:

  • Section 204, which requires establishment of a Global Health Security Interagency Review Council. The Council shall consist of representatives from the several agencies including NIH and NIAID.
  • Section 564, which requires CDC, in collaboration with NIH, the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ), FDA, and CMS to support research and development on efficient and effective testing, contact tracing, and surveillance strategies.
  • Section 573, which supports the modernization of data collection methods and infrastructure at NIH and other agencies for the purpose of increasing data collection related to health inequities, such as racial, ethnic, socioeconomic, sex, gender, and disability disparities.
  • Section 575, which requires the Director of the Indian Health Service, in coordination with Tribal Epidemiology Centers, NIH, and CDC, to conduct or support research and field studies for the purposes of improved understanding of Tribal health inequities among American Indians and Alaska Natives.
  • Section 618, which directs the National Institute of Mental Health to support research on the mental health impact of COVID-19, including the impact on health care providers.

The bill was sent to the Senate, which did not consider it.

Other Legislation

On October 20, 2020, Representative Alcee Hastings (D-FL) introduced H.R. 8633, the Humane Research and Testing Act. The bill, if enacted, would establish the National Center for Alternatives to Animals in Research and Testing at NIH. This center would, among other things, focus on incentivizing research and testing without the use of animals and publicly report on the number of animals used in federally funded research. No funding is provided in this bill. The bill was referred to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce, which did not consider it.

Hearings, Visits, and Other Topics of Interest:

On November 10, NIA Director Richard Hodes, NIBIB Director Bruce Tromberg, NIMHD Director Eliseo Pérez-Stable, and NIH Associate Deputy Director Tara Schwetz briefed the House Energy and Commerce staff on how data from COVID-19 testing studies could be used to help the U.S. utilize COVID-19 testing capacity more effectively to contain outbreaks and reopen the economy.

Submitted by Brian Gray, Ph.D., Scientific Policy Analyst (contractor), National Institute on Aging

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Staff Honors and Changes

Staff Honors

Dr. Frank Bandiera, Program Official, Population and Social Processes Branch, DBSR, was selected by the University of Florida, Department of Epidemiology, as their 2020 Outstanding Senior Alumnus of the Year, based on excellence in professional achievements and exceptional leadership in the advancement of public health. The award was presented on November 13, 2020.

Staff Changes

Vishal Dubey joined the Division of Behavioral and Social Research on October 13, 2020 for a short-term Data Science fellowship, which ended December 18. Working with data from private data vendors and the NIH CIT team, he assessed the potential of hash algorithms for linking various datasets.

Damali Martin, Ph.D joined the Division of Neuroscience as a Program Director in the Population Studies and Genetics Branch. She obtained her Ph.D. in Cell Biology and Molecular Genetics at the University of Maryland in College Park in 2004 and her MPH at the Bloomberg School of Public Health at Johns Hopkins in 2005. She was a Program Director and the Cancer Disparities and Global Health Coordinator in the Epidemiology and Genomics Research Program in NCI's Division of Cancer Control and Population Sciences (DCCPS). Her responsibilities included coordinating and planning health disparities and global health scientific initiatives across NCI, as well as managing a portfolio of large cancer cohort and prospective studies related to health disparities, global health, and environmental and genetic epidemiology. These included large sequencing studies for breast and prostate cancer in African descent populations, and large international research consortia in Africa and the Caribbean. She served as NCI’s scientific officer for the Human, Health and Hereditary in Africa (H3Africa) and the Global Environmental and Occupational Health (GEOHealth) programs, which focused on building research capacity in low- and middle-income countries. She also spearheaded the implementation of the Caribbean Regional Cancer Registry Hub under the Global Initiative for Cancer Registries in Developing Countries.

Tim Nguyen joined the Division of Behavioral and Social Research on October 13, 2020 for a short-term Product Management fellowship, which ended December 18. During his fellowship, he created a product line/road map for DBSR’s multiple longitudinal studies which are linked with other data sources.

Isla Norwood joined the Scientific Review Branch as a Program Analyst in October 2020. Isla started her federal career at the Pentagon but later joined NIH. Most recently, Isla served as an intramural AO at NINR and as Senior AO supporting the NINR Scientific Director. Isla will assist the Deputy Chief of Review in a wide range of administrative and quality assurance duties, including budget analysis and forecasting and liaison to committee management and SREA.

Dr. Priscilla Novak joined the Division of Behavioral and Social Research on September 28, 2020, as a Program Official in the Population and Social Processes Branch. She will help develop the health systems research portfolio. Dr. Novak comes to us from the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, where she worked in the Office of the Director as a Management and Program Analyst leading the Accelerating Change and Transformation in Organizations and Markets project, a $75M per year contract to improve health care quality and delivery. Prior experience includes work at the Office of Personnel Management, Leading Age, the Association of American Medical Colleges, Dell, and the Peace Corps in Bolivia. Her published research is in areas such as disparities in serious psychological distress among those with AD/ADRD, local health department activities to reduce emergency department visits for substance use disorders, and variation of hospital-based adoption of care coordination services by community-level social determinants of health. Dr. Novak received a Ph.D. in Health Services from the University of Maryland.

Rachel Saré, Ph.D., joined the Division of Neuroscience as a Health Specialist in the Neurobiology of Aging and Neurodegeneration Branch in October. Dr. Saré comes to NIA from the Intramural Research Program of NIMH where she was a contract scientist since 2019 following her postdoctoral fellowship which began in 2012. During this time, Dr. Saré published numerous papers on subjects including Autism, fragile X syndrome, Tuberous Sclerosis Complex, sleep, and Alzheimer’s disease. Dr. Saré received her Ph.D. in Human and Molecular Genetics with a specialization in Neuroscience from the University of Texas Health Science Center in Houston. Her thesis focused on the characterization and treatment of a novel mouse model of Tuberous Sclerosis Complex-Associated Autism in which she characterized an underappreciated role of neurodegeneration in this disorder.

Matthew Sutterer, Ph.D., Division of Neuroscience/Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience Branch, was recently promoted to Health Scientist Administrator. Dr. Sutterer previously served as a Health Specialist in the same branch. Prior to joining the NIH, he was selected as an AAAS Science and Technology policy fellow and worked at the National Institute of Justice in the U.S. Department of Justice. Dr. Sutterer received his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Iowa under Dr. Daniel Tranel. His dissertation research focused on changes in brain networks related to emotion and decision-making behavior following brain damage (e.g., stroke) or surgical intervention (e.g., tumor resection, epilepsy surgery). Following his graduate work, he completed a post-doctoral fellowship in the laboratory of Dr. Michelle Voss, also at University of Iowa, where he conducted research in cognitive neuroscience of healthy aging with a focus on plasticity of brain networks and connectivity.

The National Institute on Aging (NIA), Intramural Research Program (IRP) welcomes Dr. Keenan Walker as Tenure-Track Investigator in the Laboratory of Behavioral Neuroscience (LBN). Dr. Walker will work under the direction of Dr. Susan Resnick, Senior Investigator and Chief of LBN, and will oversee the Multimodal Imaging of Neurodegenerative Disease (MIND) Unit. Dr. Walker earned his Ph.D. in Clinical Psychology in 2016 from St. John’s University, New York, where he focused his research on psychometric cognitive assessment and neurobiology. He then joined the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine as a Postdoctoral Fellow and became Assistant Professor in 2019.

Elizabeth Wiggins joined the Division of Behavioral and Social Research on October 13, 2020, as a Pathways Intern. Elizabeth will assist DBSR’s Health Specialists in a variety of tasks.

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Institute-sponsored Meetings, Workshops, and Conferences

Past Meetings


This workshop was aimed at developing new partnerships between data science investigators and investigators curating clinical cohorts. The purpose of this workshop was to discuss state-of-the-art tools for identification of disease pathways, particularly in non-malignant hematologic diseases, and to identify the limitations inherent in existing tools. We expect the development of new tools for genotype-phenotype analyses and disease pathway prediction, especially in rare disease cohorts, will provide unique insights into a range of inherited and acquired underlying diseases including the hemoglobinopathies, porphyrias, hereditary iron disorders, and bone marrow failure disorders.

For additional information, contact Dr. Rebecca Fuldner, and Dr. John Williams,


The Translational Research Branch, in NIA’s Division of Neuroscience, hosted a virtual workshop on Expanding the Therapeutic Modalities for AD/ADRD. The workshop brought together representatives from academia, the small biotech and pharmaceutical industries, NIH, and the FDA to discuss the use of various biologic modalities, such as gene therapy, RNA-targeted therapeutics, antisense oligonucleotides, cell-based therapy, and PROTAC for the development of therapies for neurological and neurodegenerative disorders. Emphasis was placed on the need and the opportunity to expand the use of new therapeutic modalities for AD/ADRD treatment to advance the novel AD/ADRD targets; this included discussions on various technical and methodological challenges and the regulatory aspects of advancing various new biologic modalities into the clinic. The workshop included presentations on NIA’s newly established translational centers, TREAT-AD, and the use of open-science principles in drug discovery and drug development. The workshop was attended by more than 125 researchers from academia and industry.

For more information, contact Dr. Zane Martin,


Honored awardees included Dr. Lori Beason-Held, Staff Scientist, Laboratory of Behavioral Neuroscience (LBN), and Dr. Marina Weiler, Postdoctoral Fellow, LBN, with the Excellence in Research Award. Also honored were Dr. Mayuri Tanaka, Postdoctoral Visiting Fellow, Translational Gerontology Branch (TGB), who received the Promising Postdoctoral Fellow Award, and Drs. Achour Achouak, Postdoctoral Visiting Fellow, Laboratory of Molecular Biology and Immunology (LMBI), and Isabel Beerman, Stadtman Investigator, TGB, who both received Research Recognition Awards.

For additional information, contact Sarah Lewis,, 667-205-2604.


This workshop explored the current landscape of machine learning applications in health care delivery for older adults. In addition to allowing participants to review emerging research in health care-related machine learning, this meeting allowed clinicians, data scientists, and ethicists, among others, to identify research gaps and opportunities to leverage resources and address systematic limitations in the field. The meeting covered five broad areas: (1) Opportunities to Improve Health care Delivery, (2) Vulnerable Populations, (3) Improving Dementia Care, (4) Data Needs, and (5) Ethics and Flexibility. Within these areas, participants identified potential areas of priority for NIA and the research community and defined cross-cutting themes to address problems across these priorities.

For additional information, contact Dr. Partha Bhattacharyya,, 301-496-3136.


The conference, organized in collaboration with the National Institute on Aging (NIA), the National Cancer Institute (NCI), and the National Institute of Environmental Health Services (NIEHS), aimed to increase awareness of the impact of aging in cancer risk, with special considerations of cancer in the elderly. Event Chair, Dr. Luigi Ferrucci, Scientific Director, NIA, and Dr. Trygve Tollefsbol from the University of Alabama delivered keynote addresses. A manuscript is in preparation and will be submitted to the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) in 2021.

The purpose of this conference was to increase awareness of the impact of aging in cancer risk, with special considerations of cancer in the elderly. The invited experts provided input regarding existing gaps in knowledge, discussed the overlap and divergent paths of cancer and aging biology, and facilitate the prioritization of scientific areas for further research efforts.

The topics covered at this workshop were:

  • Understanding the molecular biology of cancer in elderly.
  • Cellular senescence in cancer and aging.
  • Implication of oxidative stress towards cancer biology.
  • Senescence, immune response, and cancer in the elderly.
  • Environmental factors and the overlap of carcinogens/gerontogens.
  • Potential impact of nutrition on cancer prevention in the elderly.
  • Cancer therapeutics and treatment optimization for the elderly.

For additional information, contact Dr. Max Guo,, 301-402-7747.


In research on the biology of aging, and in geroscience, we are often concerned with questions such as When is aging detectable? or Is there a point of no return in aging? and Is it possible to slow the rate of aging? The objectives of this workshop were to hypothesize 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 made brief presentations of their hypotheses and then challenged each other’s proposals, through a guided panel discussion. One or more theories on when aging begins, with concepts about experimental support, emerged from these discussions. As with any theory of aging, the outcomes may be used to inform new areas of research. This symposium was held in conjunction with Gerontological Society of America Annual Meeting on November 4-8, 2020.

Each speaker acknowledged the breadth and complexity of the problem, but then took one experimentally tractable approach to justify selecting a turning point in the life course when you could think that aging begins, or that aging can be understood from experiments or epidemiology — or both. This series has been less about making an airtight case than about showing the utility of thinking that aging begins within a specifiable time window. Two more presentations will be made on December 16th (after this report is filed).

For additional information, contact Dr. Ronald Kohanski,, 301-402-0836.


Dr. Randy Schekman, 2013 Nobel Prize winner and Howard Hughes Institute Investigator and Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology, delivered the keynote address titled “Sorting of proteins and RNA into exosomes secreted by human cells.”

For additional information, contact Sarah Lewis,, 667-205-2604.


Since April 2018, NIA has encouraged collaborative teams to target gaps in methods and outcomes regarding research participant recruitment and retention. These teams were supported to complement our National Strategy for Recruitment and Participation in Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias Clinical Research. The grantees examined first year progress and began efforts on an extended collaboration to address the science of recruitment and retention.

For additional information, contact Dr. Cerise Elliott,

Alzheimer’s Biomarkers Consortium – Down Syndrome (ABC-DS) Investigators Meeting – November 12-13, 2020 – Virtual

Hosted by NIA, the first day of the meeting highlighted research data collected through the Alzheimer’s Disease in Down Syndrome (ADDS) and Neurodegeneration in Aging Down Syndrome (NiAD) programs — predecessors to the U19 cooperative agreement. The second day was a launch of the U19 program, which included review of the study protocols and recruitment/outreach efforts. The meeting also provided a forum for ABC-DS investigators to discuss collaboration with the newly funded Data Management and Portal for the INCLUDE (DAPI) Project.

For additional information, contact Dr. Laurie Ryan,

AGE AND HIV-RELATED NEURODEGENERATION – November 13-14, 2020 – Virtual

The goal of this two-day workshop was to review the progress of research supported under RFA-AG-18-023 "Pathogenesis of Age-Related HIV Neurodegeneration." The following areas of research and gaps in current knowledge as well as new opportunities for research intersecting AD/ADRD and HIV/AIDS were discussed:

  • Neuropathological indices, including indices of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and Alzheimer's disease related dementias (ADRD), in HIV patients on antiretroviral therapies (i.e., in the context of significant viral suppression)
  • Fluid biomarkers of neurodegenerative diseases, including AD and ADRD, and in neurological disorders associated with HIV infection
  • Neuronal dysfunction focusing on synaptodendritic damage in models with concurrent Alzheimer's disease- and HIV-related neurodegenerative processes
  • Neuronal circuits that are specifically compromised in HIV-induced CNS dysfunction, including similarities and differences in circuits compromised in AD/ADRD and HIV
  • Similarities and differences between Alzheimer's disease and HIV dementia centered around inflammation, alterations in the blood-brain barrier, and Aβ and tau pathology
  • Novel models for investigating concurrent neurodegenerative processes in HIV

This workshop was co-sponsored by the NIH Office of AIDS Research and the National Institute on Aging.

For additional information, contact Dr. Mack Mackiewicz,


This is the annual meeting for the CITP. Participants in this year’s meeting discussed their progress and accomplishments within the CITP, which was held jointly with NIA’s ITP, to facilitate interaction and discuss potential collaboration. An additional objective of this workshop was to address the difficulties inherent in developing reproducibility, including the levels of detail required to achieve this important outcome. The CITP labs also presented outcomes of supplements awarded for Alzheimer’s disease research. Opinions from the CITP labs were sought on the likelihood of the field adopting the diverse species and strains now in use by the CITP. The meeting was held virtually on November 13-14, 2020.

For additional information, contact Dr. Viviana Perez, 301-496-6428, Dr. Max Guo, 301-402-7747, Dr. Francesca Macchiarini, 301-402-7749, and Dr. Rebecca Fuldner, 301-496-6402.


The mechanistic target of rapamycin (mTOR) is a master regulator of all the processes that cells need to divide and grow, or to conserve energy. Studies have demonstrated that rapamycin can prolong lifespan in all model organisms, including mammals. However, the mechanism through which this occurs is still uncertain. Clinical experience with mTOR inhibitors in oncology and transplantation is extensive; however, it is very limited in aging and diseases associated with aging. The NIA program aimed to systematically assess existing evidence to inform future directions for phase 2 clinical trials with mTOR inhibitors. On November 17, 2020, NIA had a workshop focused on four broad topics:

  • Review methods and preclinical data on the mTOR signaling pathway, its role in aging, and potential effects of mTOR inhibition on conditions associated with aging.
  • Review clinical experience with marketed mTOR inhibitors in cancer and organ transplantation.
  • Discuss clinical experience from trials with mTOR inhibitors on aging indications and their implications for future research.
  • Address considerations of safety and outcomes selection for future trials on the effects and efficacy of mTOR inhibitors.

The 65 participants who attended the workshop included NIH staff, NIH grantees, and practicing physicians with scientific expertise in geriatrics, oncology, transplantology, translational research, clinical trials methodology, and biostatistics. The workshop agenda included 14 presentations and two panel discussions. In summary, the major topics discussed during the panel sessions were:

  • Potential adverse effects of mTOR inhibition in early-phase trials for aging-related indications.
  • Potential preventive effects of mTOR inhibitors in healthy people for aging-related indications.
  • How the range of potential clinical benefits and adverse effects could best be assessed in early-phase clinical trials (e.g., small trials on individual outcomes, multiple outcomes within one trial).
  • The target population(s) for future trials on the effect of mTOR inhibitors for aging indications.
  • Evidence that some diseases could be more responsive than others to mTOR inhibition.
  • Existing biological markers (e.g., inflammatory, immunological, senescence, etc.), either circulating, in tissue, or both, to be used to measure target engagement and off-target effects and serve as surrogate endpoints in trials of mTOR inhibitors.
  • Need to develop new markers.

Upon the systematic review of all workshop materials, the NIA staff in the collaboration with the workshop presenters will prepare a white paper for a peer-reviewed publication. In addition, the highlighted considerations and comments will be used for review and administration of future NIA grants and cooperative agreements.

For additional information, contact Dr. Irina Sazanova,


This live, virtual workshop was attended by more than 350 researchers. The program featured presentations and discussions around: (1) new, data-driven methods and technologies aimed at capturing the many aspects of the exposome on health outcomes, including brain health; (2) insights from epidemiologic studies that illustrate the impact of life course exposures on cognition and dementia outcomes; (3) advances in environmental epigenomics and microbiome research translating exposome observations from population studies into mechanistic insights through the use of animal models and big data approaches; and (4) cross-disciplinary research focused on understanding the consequences of air pollution and its interactions with other exposures on brain aging and Alzheimer’s. In addition, the meeting highlighted several NIH researcher resources, including the NIDA Adolescent Brain Cognitive Development longitudinal study and the NIEHS TaRGET and FRAMED initiatives.

For additional information, contact Dr. Suzana Petanceska,


The Translational Research Branch at NIA’s Division of Neuroscience hosted a virtual working meeting of the research teams supported by NIA’s open-science consortia: the AMP AD Target Discovery Program, MODEL-AD Consortium and the TREAT-AD Centers. The goal of the meeting was to provide a venue for sharing progress and creating new synergies among these interconnected translational infrastructure programs related to generating new data, analytical methods, mechanistic insights, and research tools for the advancement of a precision medicine approach to drug discovery for AD. The program also featured several guest speakers on the topics of new methods for single cell molecular profiling, phenotypic drug discovery, new open-science initiatives for chemical tools development, and advancing novel targets into clinical drug candidates and companion diagnostics.

For additional information, contact Dr. Larry Refolo,


The Translational Research Branch in NIA’s Division of Neuroscience hosted a virtual, working meeting of the research teams supported through NIA’s Resilience-AD and Psych-AD programs and the Alzheimer’s Gut Microbiome Project U19 grant. These programs use a team-science, cross-disciplinary approach to understanding the molecular mechanisms underlying the links between various neuropsychiatric symptoms and Alzheimer’s disease and the molecular mechanisms of cognitive resilience in the presence of various types of AD risk. The meeting highlighted the emerging role of the microbiome in driving and mediating these molecular mechanisms.

For additional information, contact Dr. Laurie Ryan,

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Future Meetings

Immune Response to SARS-CoV2 in the Elderly – January 2021 – Virtual

NIA’s extramural and intramural divisions and the extramural division of NIAID will organize a two-day conference on Immune Responses to SARS-CoV2 in the Elderly. This virtual symposium is being organized for January/February of 2021. The purpose of this symposium is to present recent research findings related to characterization of the host immune response to SARS-CoV2 in older individuals. The symposium will increase the understanding of how the host immune response is altered in the elderly and help to identify the factors that contribute to increased mortality in this population. Recent results from both animal and human studies on the aged host response will be presented. This symposium will identify gaps in knowledge and future directions of research as it relates to the SARS-CoV2 pandemic. The objectives are (1) characterization of the innate and adaptive immune response to SARS-CoV2 in aging; and (2) discussion of therapeutic treatments for mitigation of severity of infection in the elderly.

For additional information, contact Dr. Rebecca Fuldner,

Breaking Silos and Expanding Access in Data Science Research for Older Adults – February 8-10, 2021 – Virtual

The digitization of massive data sets, including electronic health records and claims data, expands the boundaries of biomedical research and enables improvements in health care delivery for older adults. However, many of these data sets exist in silos, rendering them difficult to reconcile with one another or access for analyses. The goal of this workshop with subject matter experts is to identify gaps, opportunities and strategies for breaking data silos and address the need for data integration across multiple sources and infrastructure for analyses. The workshop will also address existing barriers to the effective integration of big data, including addressing common data elements and harmonization of data across multiple sources, as well as the myriad ways that researchers and clinicians may leverage these unified data when such barriers are eliminated.

For additional information, contact Dr. Partha Bhattacharyya,, 301-496-3136.

NIH Science of Behavior Change (SOBC) Capstone Research Conference – February 22-23, 2021 – Virtual

The NIA BSR staff and trans-NIH partners from multiple Institutes, Centers, and Offices (ICOs) are leading development of the SOBC Common Fund Program’s final research conference. We will celebrate 10 years of SOBC Program science advances and accomplishments, highlight innovative examples of mechanisms-focused behavior change science as implemented across a range of fields of interest to multiple ICOs, and bridge the SOBC Program to other initiatives and ICO missions as part of the program goal to sustain the approach after the Common Fund Program’s end in fiscal year 2020. To ensure the broadest reach possible, the meeting will be open to the public, recorded, and archived, and will result in a meeting summary. The agenda, speaker information, and a link to registration will be available in the coming months at

For additional information, contact Dr. Lisbeth Nielsen,, and Dr. Chandra Keller,, 301-496-3136.

Deeply Phenotyped Longitudinal Studies on Aging: Opportunities for Coordination and Collaborations – February 25-26, 2021 – Virtual

This workshop will serve to promote greater coordination across small to mid-sized longitudinal cohort studies supported by NIA’s Division of Behavioral and Social Research (BSR). BSR supports many deeply-phenotyped longitudinal cohort studies which, collectively, span the full life course. These studies collect rich data on behavioral and psychological processes, often incorporate qualitative experience sampling or daily diary protocols, and frequently include biomarker and neuroimaging assessments. Because multi-cohort projects inherently address the replication question, often allow findings to be extended to new contexts (different age group, different geographic location, etc.), and have greater potential to identify interesting moderators, this workshop will promote greater coordination among these existing longitudinal cohort projects and encourage collaboration toward multi-cohort data integration, construct harmonization, and collaborative publications.

For additional information, contact Dr. Janine Simmons,, 301-496-3136.

Bilingualism and Cognitive Reserve/Resilience – March 2-3, 2021 – Virtual

The goal of this NIA-sponsored, two-day virtual workshop is to bring together experts in bilingualism and cognitive reserve/resilience to review the current state of the science, address the gaps in our understanding, and discuss opportunities for further exploration of the impact of bilingualism on cognitive and brain health and age-related neurodegenerative disease. Bilingualism as a driver of cognitive reserve and/or resilience to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) remains controversial, with some studies showing evidence of these protective effects and others indicating no effects. The study of bilingualism and its impact on cognition and the brain is complicated by a number of factors, including associated environmental and SES circumstances and age of acquisition of a second language, among others. The role of these factors, including how to best interrogate them, pose questions of primary interest. Also of interest are the mechanisms by which bilingualism may drive neuroplasticity in the brain and impact molecular, cellular, and circuit-level dynamics as well as structure, activity, and resilience/resistance to neuropathology. Better understanding of the role of bilingualism in aging and AD may lead to new directions for interventions and provide insight into the concepts of cognitive reserve and resilience.

For additional information, contact Dr. Matt Sutterer (DN),, and Dr. Jonathan King (DBSR),

Non-pharmacological Approaches to the Primary Prevention of AD/ADRD – March 24-25, 2021 – Virtual

Non-pharmacological interventions to prevent age-related AD/ADRD are of great interest to scientists, policy makers, and the public, but long-term prevention trials that would identify these interventions are prohibitively difficult to conduct. Candidate interventions may take place up to four decades before the likely onset of AD/ADRD symptoms; study participants cannot practically be enrolled for that duration of time, and identification of individuals who will subsequently develop AD/ADRD is problematic. The National Institute on Aging’s Division of Behavioral and Social Research is convening a two-day workshop to address this core methodological challenge in order to support the development of trials that lead to more definitive AD/ADRD prevention messages for policy makers and the general public.

For additional information, contact Dr. Jonathan King,, 301-496-3136.

Lipids in the Aging Brain and Alzheimer's Disease – Spring 2021 – Virtual

The objectives of this NIA-sponsored workshop are to highlight recent research advances on the mechanisms of lipid processing, signaling, and metabolism in the context of brain aging and Alzheimer's disease. The workshop will facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration among investigators in these areas to identify research gaps, challenges, and opportunities for progress.

For additional information, contact Dr. Amanda DiBattista,

Single Cell Approaches to Study Aging – April 2021 – Virtual

The progress of aging research is often limited by technological challenges. One of the major barriers is our inability to examine the molecular profiles in individual cells. What we have observed have often been average profiles of many different cells. Recent advances in single cell technology have really revolutionized our approaches in many types of studies in aging and aging-related disease. This workshop will evaluate single cell technologies that have recently become available and discuss their applicability in aging research, specifically on the issues around changes in chromatin, including epigenetic modification and structural modulation of chromosomes, and changes identified through other types of omic studies.

For additional information, contact Dr. Max Guo,, 301-402-7747.

2021 NIH ALZHEIMER’S DISEASE RESEARCH SUMMIT – April 19-22, 2021 – Virtual

The 2021 NIH Alzheimer’s Disease Research Summit is a key strategic planning meeting tied to the implementation of the first goal of the National Plan to Address Alzheimer's: to treat and prevent Alzheimer's disease by 2025. The 2021 AD Summit will bring together a multi-stakeholder community including government, industry, academia, private foundations, and patient advocates to formulate an integrated, translational research agenda that will enable the development of effective therapies (disease modifying and palliative) across the disease continuum for the cognitive as well as neuropsychiatric symptoms of Alzheimer's disease. The 2021 NIH AD Research Summit will be held virtually, April 19-22, 2021.

For additional information, contact Dr. Suzana Petanceska,

NIA Symposium on “HALLMARKS OF AGING IN THE HEART” at the Experimental Biology (EB) Annual Meeting – April 29, 2021 – Virtual

The purpose of the symposium is to highlight recent advances in aging-related changes in the physiological interactions of organs. The symposium will be held at the annual meeting of the Federation of American Societies of Experimental Biology national meeting. Each speaker will be asked to give a 20-minute presentation on their recent research findings with an emphasis on how they relate to the area of aging-related changes in the physiological interactions of that year’s symposium topic (2021 is TBD). he symposium will be chaired by staff from the Division of Aging Biology.

For additional information, contact Dr. Candace Kerr,, and Dr. John Williams,

Awardees of COVID-19 Supplements – May 2021 – Virtual

At this time, roughly 10 supplements have been awarded to DAB-supported grantees for research and studies on COVID-19. The purpose of this grantees’ virtual meeting is to learn of their approaches and some of the actual challenges faced in implementation of the awards in the context of an ongoing pandemic, in terms of patient-researcher interactions and acquiring samples, interfacing with clinical trials and studies, and constraints on laboratory work imposed by attempting basic and applied research during a pandemic. The grantees’ research includes studies in humans and other animals, so they will also be asked to explain the translational aspects of their work, as appropriate. We will solicit feedback on the application and award process as well. With an anticipated meeting date in May 2021, it might be possible to include awardees from early in FY 2021. The meeting will occur as two, four-hour sessions over two days. If this workshop is expanded to include other Divisions, it would of necessity become a series of multi-day workshops because NIA has made nearly 140 supplemental awards in FY 2020.

For additional information, contact Dr. Ronald Kohanski,, 301-402-0836.

Mucosal Immunity, Microbiome, and Aging – May 12-16, 2021 – Virtual

This NIA-sponsored symposium will be held at the American Association of Immunologists annual meeting on May 12-16, 2021. 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,

Symposium on Nonhuman Primates as a Model for Aging – June 4, 2021 – Oklahoma City, OK

The purpose of the symposium, being held at the 43rd Annual Meeting of the American Society of Primatology, is to highlight recent advances in the use of certain nonhuman primates in aging research at a national meeting. Each speaker has been asked to give a 30-minute presentation on their recent research findings, with an emphasis on how they relate to a better understanding of the biology of aging. This symposium was originally approved and scheduled for FY 2020 but was postponed due to the SARS-CoV-2 pandemic.

For additional information, contact Dr. Manuel Moro,, 301-496-6402.

The 26th Annual NIA/IRP Scientific Retreat – July 19-20, 2021 – BRC Baltimore

The two-day, NIA-sponsored event will feature two large poster sessions, brief talks from IRP scientists, and a keynote address (TBD).

For additional information, contact Sarah Lewis,, 667-205-2604.

The Fourteenth Annual Division of Aging Biology New Investigators Forum (DABNIF) – June 28-29, 2021 and September 14-15, 2021 – Bethesda, MD

The DAB new investigators forum (DABNIF) is a long-standing yearly event. It brings together new DAB awardees in the spring of the year following their award to meet and interact with NIA program and review staff as well as to network with each other. These are investigators at an early stage of their research careers and who are new to funding by DAB. The overarching goal of the meeting is to encourage continued success for the new PIs in the field of aging as well as to encourage interactions and collaborations.

Specifically, DABNIF provides the participating PIs an opportunity to get to know in person DAB and DEA staff, learn about the review and grant administration and what NIA-specific grant mechanisms are available, and network with colleagues at a similar stage of their career. To this end, each PI will present a poster describing their planned research (or results to date) and gives an “elevator speech” short talk where they will introduce themselves and briefly talk about their research interests and careers goals. In addition to these activities, the forum’s agenda includes a keynote presentation by an expert in the area of aging and talks by DAB staff and NIA leadership on issues such as scope of the science supported by DAB, funding mechanisms, use of the Guide, navigating the NIA website, and grant review, as well as in-depth discussions on writing successful grant applications. Ample Q&A opportunities are provided throughout the program.

This forum directly supports the NIA mission related to fostering new areas of research in aging as well as disseminating information about aging-related grant opportunities to the scientific community. As a result of past meetings, we have found that the PIs have indeed set up new collaborations and increase their interactions with DAB staff. They are also much more likely to keep DAB staff informed on their new publications and progress. In addition, the format of the forum reflects past years’ anonymous participant evaluation and feedback.

For additional information, contact Dr. Manuel Moro,, 301-496-6402.

Inter-organelle Communication and Its Role in Health and Longevity – August 2021 – Bethesda, MD

An emerging theme in recent cell biological research is that dynamic interactions and communication among membrane-bound organelles are critical in regulating organelle functions during development, coping with environmental conditions, and maintaining tissue function. For example, mitochondrial-endoplasmic reticulum (ER) contacts have long been recognized as sites undergoing phospholipid transfer and Ca2+ flux. With the advance of live-cell imaging techniques, it is now recognized that mitochondrial fission occurs more prevalently at sites of inter-organellar contact. Interestingly, a recent study has shown that in endothelial cells, the juxtaposition of mitochondria and ER allows the utilization of mitochondrially produced ATP in fatty acid uptake and transport, a process that is promoted by the fatty acid transport protein 4 located in the ER. As endothelial cells lining the skeletal muscle and the heart rely on fatty acids as the main fuel, alterations of the FA uptake in these cells are potentially critical to maintain their normal functions, such as supporting parenchyma and wound healing. Additional studies have illustrated that highly plastic mitochondria-ER contacts in regulating lipid homeostasis may be involved in the pathogenesis of the Alzheimer’s disease.

To probe inter-organelle communication, researchers have taken mostly in vitro approaches, assisted by sophisticated live-cell imaging techniques. However, the full physiological relevance of those findings will need to be interrogated in intact organisms through genetic manipulation of the molecules underlying such interactions, which remain poorly characterized. Finally, it is not known how the inter-organelle communication is affected by the aging process.

A workshop is proposed to gather cell biologists and biology of aging researchers to discuss the state of the science of inter-organelle communication, available tools for the study of these phenomena, and what is known about their dysfunction in diseases and aging.

For additional information, contact Dr. Viviana Perez,, 301-496-6428, and Dr. Yih-Woei Fridell,, 301-496-7847.

Division of Aging Biology Review – September 2021 – Bethesda, MD

This NACA review of DAB was postponed pending appointment of a new Division Director. This is a series of meetings for a committee of present and former members of the National Advisory Council on Aging and other scientists and administrators appointed at the discretion of the NIA Director. It is expected that this review committee will be constituted at the January Council meeting. The purpose is to obtain feedback on performance and activities of the Division since the last review and to obtain input on the plans of the Division for future activities. The Division presents information to the review committee on activities and processes for which DAB staff have influence and control and not on general NIA processes. This would include overall direction of the Division (under new leadership); RFA development; use of discretionary funds and administrative supplement money; staff and portfolio organization; special long-term programs overseen by the Division (such as the ITP and CITP); interactions with other NIA Divisions and other NIH ICs; roles in the Common Fund; NIA-wide and NIH-wide working groups; DAB-sponsored workshops and engagement at national meetings; and similar educational and outreach activities. The Division also provides information as might be requested by the review committee. The outcome of this review will be a guidance document presented at a meeting of the National Advisory Council on Aging.

For additional information, contact Dr. Ronald Kohanski,, 301-402-0836.

Symposium on Organellar Interactions in the Regulation of Aging and Longevity, Gerontological Society of America (GSA) Annual Meeting pre-conference – November 10, 2021 – Phoenix, AZ

Cellular adaptation is a critical aspect of the cellular response to both intra- and extracellular challenges. This pre-meeting workshop will address how the interactions between organelles that are critical in carrying out such cellular functions are involved in cell longevity. For example, mitochondria-endoplasmic reticulum (ER) contacts (MERCs) have long been recognized as sites undergoing phospholipid transfer and Ca2+ flux. Resident proteins at MERCs play key roles in modulating cellular functions such as mitochondrial dynamics, lipid metabolism, and mitophagy that ultimately lead to lifespan determination in model organisms. However, it remains unclear whether such regulation is cell context dependent. At this pre-meeting workshop, researchers working at the cutting edge of aging research will address how these and other organelle interactions can determine the rate at which cells age.

In contrast to the workshop on this topic, this pre-meeting symposium is intended to focus on one specific aspect of inter-organelle communication that is better understood in the context of aging biology. It will serve as a springboard to stimulate further research in this broad area, irrespective of whether an RFA emerges from the workshop on inter-organelle communication and its role in health and longevity.

For additional information, contact Dr. Viviana Perez,, 301-496-6428, and Dr. Yih-Woei Fridell,, 301-496-7847.

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Content, Media, Outreach, and Meetings


Print Publications (Booklets, Fact Sheets, and DVDs):

Web Content



  • Focus on Aging: Federal Partners’ Webinar Series: Social Isolation and Loneliness
  • NIA SBIR/STTR Virtual Workshop: Understanding the NIH Peer-Review Process
  • ACL/NIA Pre-application Webinar: Developing Financial and Legal Planning Platforms for AD/ADRD Caregivers
  • NIA Pre-application Webinar: Preclinical Development of Novel Therapeutics Targeting Aging Mechanisms
  • NIA’s 2020 National Research Summit on Care, Services, and Supports for Persons with Dementia: Intervention Research, Implementation, and Dissemination (Theme 5), Research Resources, Methods, and Data Infrastructure (Theme 6), and Emerging Topics
  • NIA SBIR/STTR Virtual Workshop: Preparing Your NIH SBIR/STTR CRP and Phase IIB Application
  • NIA SBIR/STTR Workshop: Preparing Your NIH SBIR/STTR CRP and Phase IIB App

Blog Posts

Media & Outreach

NIA posted and distributed the following press releases

NIA posted the following featured research

Social Media

E-Mail / E-Alerts

  • Sent 104 emails from 8/1/2020-11/30/2020 to the following lists:
    • NIA Exercise and Physical Activity Tips: 29,837 subscribers
    • Healthy Aging Highlights: 33,289 subscribers
    • Alzheimer’s News & Announcements: 23,846 subscribers
    • Alzheimer’s Recruitment Resources: 2,483 subscribers
    • Alzheimer’s Clinical Trials: 16,572 subscribers
    • NIA for Caregivers: 14,212 subscribers
    • Inside NIA Blog: 19,161 subscribers
    • NIA Funding Opportunities: 12,150 subscribers

Meetings and Exhibits

Meetings with Professional Organizations

  • American Urogynecologic Society (AUGS), August 2020 — Dr. Richard Hodes and Dr. Marie Bernard, along with NIA staff, met with AUGS to discuss NIA administrative updates and relevant NIA-funded science advances, as well as research priorities and recommendations put forth by AUGS.
  • Inclusion Across the Lifespan (IAL) II Workshop, September 2020 — As a follow-up to the original 2017 IAL workshop, IAL-II was convened to promote continued dialogue and lessons learned on inclusion practices in NIH clinical research, with specific emphasis on geriatric and pediatric populations and other underrepresented groups. Dr. Richard Hodes and Dr. Marie Bernard each provided introductory remarks for the event. Please also see under “Conferences.”
  • American Association of University Women (AAUW), October 2020 — Dr. Marie Bernard gave a presentation on COVID-19 and older adults to the AAUW.
  • Population Association of America (PAA), October 2020 — Dr. Richard Hodes, Dr. Marie Bernard, and NIA staff met with PAA leadership to discuss population aging research activities, advances, and opportunities. Dr. Hodes also shared administrative updates from NIA, including information on COVID-19 response efforts.
  • Friends of the National Institute on Aging (FoNIA), October 2020 — Dr. Richard Hodes and Dr. Marie Bernard, along with NIA staff, met with members of FoNIA to review recent NIA science advances and initiatives.
  • Trial Innovation Network Collaboration Webinar, November 2020 — Dr. Marie Bernard, along with other NIA leaders, presented information on current NIA research, as well as the inclusion of older adults in clinical research.
  • Advancing Diversity in Aging Research (ADAR) Summit, November 2020 — Dr. Marie Bernard presented remarks in the ADAR Summit, an annual meeting of all ADAR medicine, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (MSTEM) programs in the United States, which seek to support educational activities that enhance the diversity of the aging research workforce.
  • Gerontological Society of America (GSA) Annual Scientific Meeting, November 2020 – Dr. Richard Hodes and Dr. Marie Bernard presented remarks in the Opening Plenary Session of the GSA Annual Scientific Meeting. In addition, Drs. Hodes and Bernard, along with other NIA senior leaders, were featured speakers in several GSA symposia. Please also see under “Conferences.”
  • Alzheimer’s Association Neuroscience Next Meeting, November 2020 — Dr. Richard Hodes presented budgetary updates, information on Alzheimer’s disease and Alzheimer’s disease-related dementias (AD/ADRD) research priorities, and resources for investigators.
  • American Brain Coalition (ABC) Annual Membership Meeting, November 2020 — Dr. Richard Hodes participated in an NIH panel during the American Brain Coalition Annual Membership Meeting, providing relevant information on NIA research and programming.
  • Beeson Annual Meeting, November 2020 — Dr. Marie Bernard presented opening remarks at the Beeson Annual Meeting, including NIA administrative and budgetary updates, as well as information on NIA strategic directions and COVID-19-related flexibilities for early-career investigators.
  • Gerontological Society of America (GSA) COVID-19 Task Force, November 2020 — Dr. Richard Hodes, Dr. Marie Bernard, and NIA staff met with GSA leadership and members of the GSA COVID-19 Task Force to discuss COVID-19 research recommendations, as well as NIH/NIA COVID-19 response efforts.
  • American Geriatrics Society, November 2020 — Dr. Richard Hodes, Dr. Marie Bernard, and NIA staff met with the AGS leadership for discussion of NIA budgetary and programmatic updates.
  • NIA Regional Meeting, December 2020 — Dr. Richard Hodes, Dr. Marie Bernard, and other NIA senior leaders convened with researchers and trainees for the NIA Regional Meeting. The meeting afforded attendees the opportunity to learn more about NIA, NIA research priorities, the grant application process, and other training and research resources.
  • American College of Neuropsychopharmacology (ACNP) Annual Meeting, December 2020 — Dr. Richard Hodes participated in the ACNP NIH Institute Directors’ Session, including respective segments on COVID-19 and disparities research and response efforts.

Exhibits and Conferences

For more information about NIA’s conferences or exhibits, contact Cindy McConnell, Office of Communications and Public Liaison,, 301-496-1752.

For more information about NIA’s professional meetings, contact Dr. Melinda Kelley, Director, Office of Legislation, Policy, and International Activities,, 301-451-8835.

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New Notices and Initiatives Relevant to the National Institute on Aging

For "Notices" and "Research Initiatives" with NIA’s participation or interest, please visit these two websites: Grants & Funding and NIH Funding Policies (please look for "Recent Changes in NIH Policy" on this web link).

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