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January 2022 Director’s Status Report

Click on the links below to view sections of the January 2022 Director’s Status Report:

Budget and Appropriations

Status of the FY 2022 Budget

  • On December 16, 2021, President Biden signed into law S.J. Res 33, which raises the statutory debt limit by $2.5 trillion to avoid a debt default. This amount is expected to provide the U.S. Treasury with enough borrowing room to extend into fiscal year 2023.
  • On December 3, 2021, President Biden signed into law H.R. 6119, a continuing resolution which extends FY 2021 funding through February 18, 2022. An earlier continuing resolution, H.R. 5305, was signed into law on September 30, 2021, which funded the government at FY 2021 levels through December 3, 2021.
  • On October 25, 2021, Sen. Patty Murray (D-WA), the chair of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions (HELP) Committee, introduced S. 3062, an appropriations bill providing FY 2022 funding for the Departments of Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education, and Related Agencies (Labor-HHS). If enacted, the bill would provide:
    • $4.18 billion for NIA, an increase of $281 million over the FY 2021 enacted level, including:
      • $3.4 billion for research on Alzheimer’s and related dementias, an increase of $235 million over the FY 2021 level
      • $29 million for NIA to support research on opioids and pain/pain management
    • $2.4 billion for the Advanced Research Projects Agency for Health (ARPA-H)

The House and Senate are currently negotiating FY 2022 appropriations. The House passed its FY 2022 Labor-HHS appropriations bill on July 29, 2021, which would provide:

  • $4.26 billion for NIA, including $3.394 billion for research on Alzheimer’s and related dementias and $29 million for research on opioids and pain management
  • $3 billion for ARPA-H

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Legislative Update

Legislation of Interest

  • On November 17, 2021, Reps. Diana DeGette (D-CO) and Fred Upton (R-MI) introduced H.R. 6000, the Cures 2.0 Act. Among other provisions, the bill would establish ARPA-H at NIH and authorize $6.5 billion in funds for the agency if enacted. The bill has been referred to several committees of jurisdiction.
  • On October 28, 2021, Sen. Chris Coons (D-DE) introduced S.3109, the Research Advancing to Market Production for Innovators Act, which makes changes to the Small Business Innovation Research (SBIR) and Small Business Technology Transfer (STTR) programs. Among other provisions, this bill — if enacted — would:
    • Shorten the timeline under which NIH must make SBIR/STTR award decisions from one year to 180 days
    • Require the application peer review process to include commercialization potential in addition to scientific and technical merit

The House version of this bill, H.R. 652, was introduced by Rep. Chrissy Houlahan (D-PA) on February 1, 2021. Both the House and Senate versions have been referred to the relevant committees of jurisdiction.

  • On October 22, 2021, Rep. John Joyce (R-PA) introduced H.R. 5626, the SAFE Biomedical Research Act. If enacted, the bill would require NIH to ensure grantees are adhering to appropriate technology practices and policies for collecting, storing, and analyzing personally identifiable information. The bill would also require the NIH Director to consult with federal intelligence and security officials regarding biomedical research conducted or supported by NIH that may affect or be affected by matters of national security. This legislation has been referred to the House Energy & Commerce Committee.

On October 15, 2021, Rep. Anna Eshoo (D-CA), the Chair of the Energy & Commerce Subcommittee on Health, introduced H.R. 5585, the Advanced Research Project Agency–Health Act. If enacted, the bill would establish ARPA-H as a standalone entity within the Department of Health and Human Services and authorize $3 billion in funds for the agency. The bill has been referred to the Energy & Commerce Committee.

Hearings, Visits, and Other Topics of Interest

House and Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Staff Meeting – November 10, 2021

On November 10, 2021, NIA Director Dr. Richard Hodes met with the health subcommittee majority and minority staff of the House and Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittees to discuss progress on AD/ADRD research implementation milestones and clinical trials reporting.

Briefing on Challenge Competitions for Staff of Senator Wicker – October 20, 2021

On October 20, 2021, NIA Division of Behavioral and Social Research (BSR) Deputy Director Dr. Dana Plude; BSR Office of Data Resources and Analytics Chief Data Officer Dr. Partha Bhattacharyya; and NIA Office of Legislation, Policy, and International Activities Acting Director Dr. Dawn Beraud briefed the staff of Sen. Roger Wicker (R-MS) on the status of Eureka and other prize competitions at NIA.

House and Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Staff Briefing – September 28, 2021

On September 28, 2021, NIA Director Dr. Richard Hodes briefed the health subcommittee majority and minority staff of the House and Senate Labor-HHS Appropriations Subcommittees on the AD/ADRD research implementation milestones and accomplishments along the drug development pipeline.

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General Information

Staff Changes

Dr. Siobhan Addie joined the Division of Aging Biology (DAB) as a Health Science Policy Analyst in September 2021. Prior to joining NIA, she was a Program Officer at the National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine. At the National Academies, Dr. Addie served on the staff of the Roundtable on Genomics and Precision Health and the Forum on Regenerative Medicine, two activities that bring together multiple stakeholder groups in the field. In that role, she developed public workshops, proceedings reports, and other perspective papers on emerging innovations, therapeutic development, health care policy, and other challenges related to the clinical integration of genomics and regenerative medicine. While at the National Academies, she also worked on two consensus studies — Temporomandibular Disorders: Priorities for Research and Care (2019) and A Fairer and More Equitable, Cost-Effective, and Transparent System of Donor Organ Procurement, Allocation, and Distribution (2020-21). Dr. Addie is deeply interested in the biology of aging and received her Ph.D. in cell biology and molecular physiology from the University of Pittsburgh where she conducted research related to the impact of DNA damage on aging and age-related diseases. She also had post-doctoral training at Rockefeller University in the Laboratory of Genome Maintenance.

Dr. Cornelis Blauwendraat has been selected as an Earl Stadtman Tenure-Track Investigator in the Laboratory of Neurogenetics (LNG) in NIA’s Intramural Research Program (IRP). Dr. Blauwendraat will work under the direction of Dr. Andrew Singleton, Senior Investigator and Section Chief, LNG (and Director, Center for Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias), and will oversee the Integrative Neurogenomics Unit (INU) within LNG. The INU focuses on dissecting the genetic architecture of Parkinson’s disease and other neurodegenerative diseases using a wide variety of genomic methods and techniques. Dr. Blauwendraat earned his Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of Tubingen, Germany, in 2016. After receiving his Ph.D., he joined the Neurodegenerative Diseases Research Unit at the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) as a Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow. After completing two years with NINDS, Dr. Blauwendraat joined the LNG, also as a Visiting Postdoctoral Fellow until 2019 when he became a Staff Scientist. He was appointed as a Stadtman Tenure-Track Investigator in September 2021.

Dr. Daniel Benjamini was appointed as an Earl Stadtman Tenure-Track Investigator in the Laboratory of Behavioral Neuroscience (LBN), NIA, IRP. Dr. Benjamini will work under the direction of Dr. Susan Resnick, Chief of the LBN, and will oversee the newly established Multiscale Imaging and Integrative Biophysics (MiiB) Unit. The overarching goal of the MiiB is to integrate knowledge of physics, neuroscience, engineering, applied mathematics, and computer sciences to investigate the brain at the microscale, mesoscale, and macroscale, using multiple approaches and modalities ranging from MRI and CT to histological microscopy and spectroscopy. The research in the MiiB Unit focuses on normative aging and dementia with the underlying goal of developing novel noninvasive imaging “stains” and “contrasts” that can sensitively and specifically target cognitive decline. Dr. Benjamini received his Ph.D. in 2016 from Tel Aviv University, Israel, as part of the NIH Graduate Partnerships Program. Upon receipt of his degree, he joined the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development (NICHD) as a Postdoctoral Fellow until 2018. He then joined the Henry M. Jackson Foundation for the Advancement of Military Science, first as a Scientist I (2018-2020) and then as a Scientist III (2020-present). His appointment as a Stadtman Tenure-Track Investigator was effective December 19, 2021.

Dr. Vilhelm Bohr, Senior Investigator in the DNA Repair Section, retired from the NIA IRP effective December 31, 2021. Dr. Bohr received his medical degree in 1978 from the University of Copenhagen, Denmark, and completed medical residencies in internal medicine and surgery at the University Hospital, Copenhagen, as well as two years of a postdoctoral fellowship at the University of Copenhagen. In 1985, Dr. Bohr became a Research Associate at Stanford University and, in 1986, joined the National Cancer Institute (NCI), NIH, first as a Senior Staff Fellow until 1988 and then as a Medical Officer and Senior Investigator until 1992. Dr. Bohr then joined the NIA IRP as Chief of the Laboratory of Molecular Genetics until 2021. During his career with NIA, Dr. Bohr led a program that worked toward developing novel therapeutic interventions for aging-related diseases by conducting research relevant to genome stability, mechanisms of human aging, age-related diseases, and cellular bioenergetics.

Ashley Butterfield joined the Division of Extramural Activities (DEA) team as a Health Specialist. Her primary responsibility will be to serve as a Guide Liaison for NIA, which will require her to liaise between NIA staff and the NIH Guide staff to facilitate the publication of funding opportunity announcements (FOAs). Although new to NIA, Ms. Butterfield is not new to public service. She began her federal career as a Community Health and HIV/AIDS Volunteer with the Peace Corps. As a volunteer, Ms. Butterfield lived in a rural village of Eswatini, Africa, for two years, and her mission was to research factors that contributed to the spread of HIV/AIDs in the community and to develop and implement mitigation projects, which she funded by successfully obtaining multiple U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) grants. Following her service, Ms. Butterfield continued to support the mission of the Peace Corps as an employee, including in a supervisory capacity. As the Medical Support Supervisor in the Peace Corps’ medical unit, Ms. Butterfield spearheaded the organizational restructure of a 47-person team, which increased the unit’s productivity and saved the agency roughly $200,000 annually. After taking some time away from the workforce to pursue passion projects, Ms. Butterfield returned to federal employment as a Federal Investigator with the United States Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). Her work at HUD entailed investigating complaints related to civil rights violations and enforcing relevant federal laws. Rounding out her experience is her educational background, which includes a master of business administration (MBA) degree and a bachelor of science degree in health care management. When she is not working, Ms. Butterfield’s mind is consumed with thoughts of travel. She has visited 35 countries, and she looks forward to collecting another passport stamp once it is safe to travel again.

Dr. Reymundo Dominguez joined the Scientific Review Branch of NIA as a Scientific Review Officer (SRO) in November of 2021. Dr. Dominguez holds a Ph.D. in neuroscience from the University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles. His doctoral thesis focused on the role of sex steroid hormone actions in the brain and their activational influence on synaptic plasticity in adults. Dr. Dominguez received predoctoral training in the neurobiology of aging at the USC Leonard Davis School of Gerontology and postgraduate training in neuroendocrinology of sexual reproduction as part of the Laboratory for Neuroendocrinology at the University of California, Los Angeles. He also held a junior faculty position at the University of Tasmania School of Medicine, Australia, with the Optogenetics and Protein Engineering Group. His basic science research studies helped visualize some of the most proximal cellular and molecular signaling events involved in plasma membrane-initiated estrogen signaling in neurons, with the aim of better informing us on how sex steroid hormones impact the normal aging process and disease in the brains of both sexes.

Dr. Jennifer Fox joined the DAB in the Biological Resources Branch in December 2021. She was a Program Officer in the NCI Division of Cancer Prevention’s Chemopreventive Agent Development Research Group. She served as a Contracting Officer’s Representative (FAC-COR Level III) on task orders issued under the PREVENT Cancer Preclinical Drug Development Program to test the efficacy of cancer chemopreventive agents. Dr. Fox received her Ph.D. in biochemistry, molecular and cell biology, with a minor in genetics from Cornell University. She completed her postdoctoral training at the National Human Genome Research Institute (NHGRI). She joined the Division of Preclinical Innovation at the National Center for Advancing Translational Sciences (NCATS) as a research scientist from 2012 to 2014. She designed and implemented high-throughput and high-content screening assays aimed at the development of small molecule probes and drug leads for the treatment of neurological disorders and cancer. From 2014 to 2017, Dr. Fox was a scientist in the Human Therapeutics Division at Intrexon Corporation. She designed, optimized, and performed cell-based bioassays to evaluate and characterize gene and cell therapy products for the treatment of cancer, cardiovascular disease, graft-versus-host disease, Friedreich’s ataxia, and recessive dystrophic epidermolysis bullosa (RDEB).

Dr. Rebecca Fuldner retired from DAB on December 10, 2021, after more than 20 years of devoted service to NIA. She was program officer for the aging immunology portfolio and chief of the Aging Physiology Branch since 2005. Dr. Fuldner is a cellular and molecular biologist. She received her undergraduate degree in biochemistry from the University of California, Berkeley, and a Ph.D. from the University of Wisconsin in Madison. After spending five years as a senior staff fellow studying T-cell activation in the Laboratory of Tumor Immunology and Biology at NCI, she joined the Institute for Genomic Research (TIGR) in Rockville, Maryland, and became familiar with various genomic approaches for gene discovery. The most challenging project she encountered while at TIGR was related to candidate gene identification for early onset Alzheimer’s disease. In 1999, Dr. Fuldner returned to NIH in NIA’s DAB. Her aging immunology portfolio included research related to understanding the basis for senescence of the immune system in older individuals and, therefore, included studies on the function of both the innate and adaptive immune systems in the elderly. In addition, her portfolio included studies on vaccine effectiveness in elderly adults and research on microbiomes related to immune function.

Dr. Paul Grothaus joined the Division of Neuroscience (DN). Dr. Grothaus is a medicinal/natural products chemist with expertise in drug discovery and development. Prior to joining NIH, he spent 27 years in the private sector biotechnology and pharmaceutical industries as a research scientist with increasing levels of influence and responsibility. As an Associate Director of Medicinal Chemistry at Celera Genomics in South San Francisco, he led the chemistry team that designed and synthesized ibrutinib (Imbruvica™), a first-in-class therapy that inhibits Bruton’s tyrosine kinase, a key protein in the B-cell receptor signaling complex. Ibrutinib has received three Oncology Breakthrough Therapy Designations by the FDA and was approved for the treatment of chronic lymphocytic leukemia/small lymphocytic lymphoma (CLL/SLL), mantle cell lymphoma (MCL), and Waldenstrom’s macroglobulinemia (WM). Dr. Grothaus joined the NCI Developmental Therapeutics Program in 2007 as a chemist in the Natural Products Branch at the Frederick National Laboratory for Cancer Research. There, he coordinated collection and processing of plants, marine invertebrates, and microorganisms to provide extracts that were screened for novel molecules with anticancer activity. He played an integral role in planning and launching the NCI Program for Natural Product Discovery (NPNPD), including development of general fractionation methods adaptable to high-throughput robotic automation. Dr. Grothaus also served on the Discovery Committee and as a Project Lead for the NCI Experimental Therapeutics Program (NExT), the primary path for extramural researchers to gain access to NCI resources to develop projects toward the clinic. In 2017, he moved to NCI headquarters at Shady Grove and launched the Stepping Stones preclinical development program, whose goal is to provide services to fill identified, discrete gaps so that extramural investigators may build a robust data packet to enable further development of small molecule therapeutics within NExT or with outside resources.

Dr. Jennifer Isaacs is a Program Director in the Translational Research Branch in DN. Prior to joining NIA in 2021, Dr. Isaacs directed a cancer biology lab as an academic tenured investigator. Her research focused on dysregulated cellular chaperone function and loss of protein homeostasis as a driver of cancer progression. Following her academic career, Dr. Isaacs served as a Program Director at the NCI where she managed a cancer biology portfolio focused on the tumor microenvironment, with studies related to vascular development, immunology, cellular plasticity, and heterogeneity. At the NCI, Dr. Isaacs worked with trans-NCI staff to release collaborative funding opportunities and to organize workshops to advance basic and translational research initiatives. Subsequent to the NCI, Dr. Isaacs was recruited to BARDA DRIVe, an HHS division developing medical countermeasures in response to chemical threats and infectious agents. As a BARDA Program Officer, Dr. Isaacs managed a portfolio of public-private contracts supporting advancement of therapeutic products, including analytical tools, devices, and biologics, to identify and mitigate infection severity in response to COVID-19 or other pathogens. Dr. Isaacs managed teams of experts to support the de-risking and regulatory approval process for early-stage clinical products. Dr. Isaacs obtained her Ph.D. in biochemistry and biophysics at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and completed post-doctoral studies at the National Cancer Institute. Dr. Isaacs is also certified as a COR II contracting official.

Dr. Petra Jacobs joined the Division of Behavioral and Social Research (BSR) on September 13, 2021, as Director of the Office of Behavioral and Social Clinical Trials. Dr. Jacobs will oversee administration of the clinical trials supported by BSR, including pre-award policy compliance, risk assessment, and risk management. She will also lead training, communication, and outreach efforts concerning the design and conduct of behavioral and social clinical trials and will serve as BSR’s primary contact on NIA and NIH clinical trials committees and working groups. Dr. Jacobs has a long history of leadership in overseeing clinical trials at NIH, having served in leadership roles in the Center for the Clinical Trials Network at the National Institute on Drug Abuse (CCTN/NIDA) for more than a decade. In her previous positions, Dr. Jacobs served as a supervisory medical officer and scientific officer for many clinical trials of medications and behavioral treatments, ranging from small-scale pilot studies to large-scale multisite clinical trials and pragmatic trials, which included studies testing telehealth, brief strategic family intervention, addressing prescription opioid addiction, and pain management. As an Assistant Director and Team Leader, she oversaw strategy development and portfolio management within the CCTN and was involved in major public health initiatives, including efforts to address opioid overdose, stimulant use, and the impact of COVID-19 on vulnerable populations. She holds an M.D. in general medicine from the Charles University Medical School in Prague, Czech Republic, and a master’s degree in health sciences in clinical research from Duke University School of Medicine, Durham, North Carolina.

Dr. Shoshana Kahana joined the NIA DEA Office of Strategic Extramural Programs (OSEP) as OSEP Deputy Director in December 2021. In this role, Dr. Kahana will help lead several efforts to expand and enhance NIA’s training, career development, and small business funding programs. Prior to her joining NIA, Dr. Kahana served as a Senior Advisor and NIH Training Policy Officer in the Office of Extramural Research, a position in which she provided leadership and oversight for NIH extramural training and career development programs and helped to develop and implement policies and programs toward supporting the development of a stable and diverse biomedical research workforce. Dr. Kahana co-chaired the Early-Stage Investigator Extension Committee and Katz Early-Stage Investigator programs, two trans-NIH workgroups that are linked to the Next Generation Researchers Initiative to promote the growth of the biomedical research workforce. She has considerable expertise in program, policy, project management, and evaluation. Prior to coming to OSEP, Dr. Kahana worked at NIDA overseeing a portfolio of HIV and substance abuse grants in the context of health services research. Dr. Kahana received her Ph.D. in clinical psychology from Case Western Reserve University, and her BA from the University of Pennsylvania.

Dr. Pragati Katiyar joined DAB as a Health Science Specialist in August 2021. Dr. Katiyar coordinates several programs funded through the Cellular Senescence Network (SenNet). Dr. Katiyar previously led the evaluation of research portfolios at NIA’s Office of Portfolio Analysis and Evaluation (OPAE), where, through her analytical endeavors, she was able to evaluate if a funding mechanism was successful in enriching the aging research workforce by attracting new investigators to that field from other disciplines irrespective of their career stage. She also published a peer-reviewed publication on this evaluation methodology. Prior to joining NIA, she worked at NCI on the “Ras Initiative” started by Dr. Harold Varmus to better understand mutant RAS protein that is mutated in 95% of all pancreatic cancers and at the National Health Lung Blood Institute (NHLBI) as a Scientific Program Manager in their HIV/AIDS program. Dr. Katiyar received her Ph.D. in tumor biology from the Lombardi Cancer Center at Georgetown University, where she investigated molecular mechanisms involved in the BRCA1 (tumor suppressor) inhibition of progesterone receptor signaling to prevent breast cancer. She completed her postdoctoral work at the Thomas Jefferson University, where she studied molecular mechanisms involved in the migration and invasion of melanoma cells. During her tenure at the Thomas Jefferson University, she served as a president of the Jefferson Postdoctoral Association and worked to enhance the firsthand experience of international fellows entering the country for the first time. At the same time, she also wrote articles on various career development options available beyond academia for the postdoctoral fellows trying to transition to nonacademic careers.

Nicole Kidwiler joined BSR on December 19, 2021, as a Pathways Intern who will assist BSR administrative staff and analysts. Ms. Kidwiler is a student-athlete at Towson University, majoring in health care management with a minor in business administration and psychology. She is completing her senior year and is utilizing the NIH Pathways Internship to fulfill the requirements of Towson University’s Health Sciences Internship Program. She aspires to a career in health care management and is excited to learn more about the work supported in BSR.

Dr. Jamie Lahvic joined the NIA DEA OSEP in August 2021 as an AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow. She is the primary point of contact for NIA fellowship applicants, and she helps to manage policy related to NIA’s training and career development portfolios. In support of OSEP’s goals to improve support for emerging scientists, Dr. Lahvic is expanding NIA’s outreach to training and career development applicants and awardees, and she is developing new resources and programming for these populations. Dr. Lahvic earned her Ph.D. in developmental and regenerative biology at Harvard Medical School in 2017, with a thesis focused on lipid-GPCR signaling in hematopoietic stem cells. She continued to a postdoctorate at the University of California, Berkeley, where she focused on cell competition during tumor initiation. During both her postdoctorate and Ph.D., she gained experience in managing professional development programs and developing trainee cohort networks.

Dr. Elizabeth Newman was appointed as a Program Director in the Neurobiology of Aging and Neurodegeneration Branch within DN. Dr. Newman previously joined the branch as a Health Science Specialist in 2018. Dr. Newman earned her Ph.D. in neuroscience from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. Her dissertation examined early molecular mechanisms governing the development, patterning, and specification of the hypothalamus. ;After her graduation, she did a brief postdoctoral research fellowship at the Johns Hopkins University to continue her research on the hypothalamus before joining NIA.

Dr. Emerald Nguyen joined BSR on December 6, 2021, as a Program Officer in the Population and Social Processes Branch. In her previous position with the Division of Data Integration, Modeling, and Analytics (DIMA) at the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS), Dr. Nguyen served as a Scientific Program Manager with responsibilities that included management of the $500 million NIH Common Fund-supported NIH Diversity Program Consortium to develop best practices for diversifying the biomedical workforce, as well as serving as Project Scientist for cooperative awards in the National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) initiative. Dr. Nguyen’s career includes time as a researcher at the U.C. Davis Sociology Department, studying topics ranging from health care access to family health across recessions and an AAAS Congressional Fellowship conducting social science policy research on health care and judiciary policies. Notably, she served as an AAAS Fellow with BSR, during which time she worked on a range of topics including data infrastructure, family intergenerational dynamics, health disparities, and informal/formal caregiving. She joins BSR as a Program Officer covering a portfolio of research intended to address influences of macrosocial trends on aging, life course health, and AD/ADRD, including a focus on climate change in response to recommendations from the 2019 National Advisory Council on Aging (NACA) Review of BSR. Dr. Nguyen received her Ph.D. in sociology from the University of California, Davis, where she studied disparities in health care.

Rebecca Roper joined the NIA DEA Division of Extramural Activities as a Health Science Policy Analyst. Ms. Roper will be working to develop and implement a strategy to increase clinical trial access within underserved, diverse communities, as well as co-lead the rollout and adoption of NIA’s new Clinical Research Operations and Management System (CROMS). She has more than 20 years of experience in DHHS extramural grant programs, and most recently served as a Project Officer in the Implementation Science Branch in the NHLBI’s Center for Implementation Science (CTRIS). While at NHLBI, Ms. Roper served as an SRO, health science administrator (HSA), and contracting officer representative (COR, Level III). In pursuit of addressing NHLBI-CTRIS research gaps, she wrote notices of special interests (NOSIs) and FOAs. Prior to joining NHLBI in 2017, Ms. Roper directed the Practice-Based Research Network (PBRN) Initiative at the Agency for Healthcare Policy and Research (AHRQ). The registered PBRN community burgeoned in numbers and types of PBRNs, both domestically and internationally, during her tenure. Ms. Roper’s established areas of expertise include: providing technical assistance to new investigators, multilevel clinical trials, health information technology, primary-care prevention, implementation research to improve delivery of evidence-based practices, community engagement for health improvement, development of professional society-approved training materials (e.g., maintainance of certification and clinical medical education) for clinician-researchers, and the production of award-winning videos showcasing impact of late-stage implementation research. She received a B.S. in health services administration from Providence College, a dual M.S. in biostatistics and epidemiology from Georgetown University, and an M.P.H. in health policy and administration from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill — during some of their respective March-Madness glory days.

Dr. Alessandra Rovescalli joined the DN. Dr. Rovescalli completed her studies at the University of Milan, Italy, obtaining a master’s degree in medicinal chemistry and pharmaceutical technology, a doctoral degree in experimental endocrinology, and a Ph.D. in pharmacology and toxicology. She began her postdoctoral training at the Institute of Pharmacological Science, University of Milan, Italy, and then in Nobel Laureate Marshall Nirenberg’s laboratory at NIH, where she remained as staff scientist for 12 more years. Throughout her career, she conducted and published multidisciplinary research, including neuropharmacology (e.g., characterization and mechanisms of action of antidepressants and antipsychotics), neuroendocrinology (effects of drugs and neurotransmitters on the hypothalamus-pituitary-gonad axis), chronobiology (interactions between drugs, drug receptors, and circadian rhythms), and molecular/developmental neurobiology (transcriptional regulation of the development of the embryonic nervous system). In 2014, she joined the NIH Center for Scientific Review (CSR), where she was the SRO for the Clinical Neuroscience and Neurodegeneration study section, as well as multiple other special emphasis panels within the Brain Disorders and Clinical Neuroscience Integrated Review Groups.

Dr. Tiziana Cogliati joined DAB in the Biological Resources Branch in November 2021. Before moving to NIA, she was the Deputy Branch Chief of the Ophthalmic Genetics and Visual Function Branch at the National Eye Institute (NEI), directed by Dr. Brian Brooks. Dr. Cogliati was involved in research projects aimed at understanding the biology and genetics underlying congenital eye diseases such as coloboma and albinism and in testing therapeutic approaches. She obtained her doctoral degree in medicinal chemistry from the University of Milan in Italy and her Ph.D. in cell and molecular biology from Leiden University in the Netherlands. She completed her postdoctoral training at the University of Milan, School of Medicine, and at NCI. From 2003 to 2008, Dr. Cogliati was a faculty member in the School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast (QUB) in Northern Ireland, U.K. In the Center for Vision Science of QUB, she pursued her research interest in retinal neurobiology and development. Her research group studied the cell biology of adult retinal stem cells and the transcriptional regulatory mechanisms that specify cell fate in the retina. Dr. Cogliati returned to NIH in 2009 and joined NEI. She worked first as a staff scientist with Dr. Anand Swaroop in the Neurobiology, Neurodegeneration & Repair Laboratory, where she participated in research on molecular determinants of retinal development, aging and disease, and on the application of stem cells for disease modeling and therapy.

Dr. Leonid Tsap joined DAB in the Genetics and Cell Biology Branch in September 2021. Before coming to NIA, Dr. Tsap contributed to NIH as an SRO at CSR and the National Library of Medicine (NLM) and was recognized with several awards. His research areas comprise many aspects of emerging technology, including medical imaging, biocomputing, artificial intelligence and machine learning, modeling, biomarkers, robotics, software, analysis, and interfaces. He received a Ph.D. in computer science and engineering with specialization in medical image analysis from the University of South Florida and was awarded the Graduate Council’s Outstanding Dissertation Prize. Dr. Tsap had postdoctoral training at the University of California- Lawrence Livermore National Laboratory. He was a member of the Editorial Board of the Pattern Recognition journal and conference program committees. Dr. Tsap’s research resulted in more than 30 refereed publications, a book chapter, and a patent.

Allison Walker joined BSR on November 22, 2021, as a Social Science Analyst in the Individual Behavioral Processes Branch, where she is working closely with Program Officials to assist with grant portfolio administration and to support new and ongoing research initiatives. Prior to joining BSR, Ms. Walker worked for four years at the Administration for Children and Families (ACF) as a contract associate analyst in the Office of Planning, Research & Evaluation (OPRE), in the Division of Child and Family Development. At OPRE, she was a team member for multiple national surveys, including the American Indian and Alaska Native Head Start Family and Child Experiences Survey (AIAN FACES) and the Study of Disability Services Coordinators and Inclusion in Head Start. She managed the AIAN FACES Data Committee, coordinated learning agenda activities with multiple ACF program offices, and created written products and data visualizations for a variety of research projects. Ms. Walker received a bachelor of arts in psychology from Grinnell College.

Staff Honors

NIA IRP recipients of the 2021 NIH Director awards:

  • Dr. Michele K. Evans, Deputy Scientific Director, for outstanding scientific contributions to understanding the mental, physical, biologic, and social factors leading to disparities in the public’s health.
  • Dr. Luigi Ferrucci, Scientific Director, NIA, for exemplary performance while demonstrating significant leadership, skill, and ability in serving as a mentor.
  • Dr. Christopher Ramsden, Tenure-Track Investigator, Laboratory of Clinical Investigation (LCI), NIA, for exceptional performance as a mentor and Unit Chief and medical care provider while serving on the frontlines of our nation’s COVID-19 response.

Dr. Luigi Ferrucci, Scientific Director, NIA, received the 2021 Donald P. Kent Award at the 2021 Gerontological Society of America (GSA) Annual Scientific Meeting held November 10-13, 2021. This distinguished honor is given annually to GSA members who best exemplify the highest standards for professional leadership in gerontology through teaching, service, and interpretation of gerontology to the larger society.

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Institute-Sponsored Meetings, Workshops, and Conferences

Past Meetings

Global Genetics Symposium 2021 – Virtual/On-Demand Webinars – July 25-September 1, 2021

NIA, together with the Alzheimer’s Association, organized the 2021 Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Global Symposium: Pathway to Translation. The symposium was held virtually as an ancillary session of the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference (AAIC). This symposium brought together experts in basic, translational, and clinical research across the globe to present progress made in genetics of Alzheimer’s disease and to discuss how genetics discoveries impact biomarker development and target discovery. The topics of the symposium included global genetics and functional genomics, gene x environment interactions, biomarker and target discovery, and understanding endophenotypes to inform precision medicine. The symposium was attended by 946 investigators from 44 countries (59% of registered attendees women, 29% under 35 years old, 9% from low- and middle-income countries). There was a live, two-hour question-and-answer session held on September 1, 2021. During this Q&A session, a panel of more than 20 leading scientists had a conversation about using genetics findings in clinical practice and translational research. Specific topics included: 1) how polygenic risk scores and pathways identified from genetic studies influence the identification and evaluation of therapies; 2) challenges investigating the effects of local and global ancestry as well as environmental and comorbidity risk factors, and how these factors impact clinicians’ decision making; 3) how to combine data about biomarkers and endophenotypes with other omics or environmental factors to better understand AD, model disease process, or design clinical trials; 4) how shared genetic factors across neurodegenerative diseases influence diagnosis, target discovery, and selection of personalized therapeutics, and how different genes and pathways identified so far impact the design of targeted therapies for individual patients. The panel shared their perspectives, and the discussions were informative. It is clear that genetic evidence is critical to increase success rate in the development of AD therapeutics. Better understanding the functional consequences of genetic risk factors is urgently needed to translate genetics discoveries to clinical research and practice. For more information, contact Marilyn Miller, millerm@nia.nih.gov.

Division of Aging Biology Review – Virtual – September 2021

This was a series of meetings for a committee of present and former members of NACA and other scientists and administrators appointed at the discretion of the NIA Director. The purpose was 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 presented information to the review committee on activities and processes for which DAB staff have influence and control and not on general NIA processes. This included 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 provided information as might be requested by the review committee. The outcome of this review will be a guidance document presented at a future NACA meeting. For additional information, please contact Dr. Ronald Kohanski, kohanskir@mail.nih.gov, 301-402-0836.

AD/ADRD Single Cell Proteomics Think Tank Meeting – Virtual – September 16, 2021

The advancements of single cell proteomics (sc-proteomics) technologies have now allowed investigators to directly describe the phenotypes of cells without the need to infer proteins from cellular mRNA levels. In this one-day think tank meeting hosted by DN, the speakers presented the state of the science on sc-proteomics and discussed the potential opportunity to use this type of technology in AD/ADRD research. This workshop covered the following areas: high throughput single cell chemical and proteomic analyses, novel sample preparation and data acquisition for single cell analyses, and applications of using sc-proteomic analyses to study human brains. For more information, contact Austin Yang, austin.yang@nih.gov.

Inter-laboratory Proposal (ILP) Symposium – Virtual – September 23, 2021

The ILP initiative has created an opportunity for researchers from across IRP laboratories to develop innovative, collaborative research projects and compete for funding. The ILP Symposium allowed researchers leading inter-laboratory projects to present their midyear project reviews. Presentations focused on three specific aims of each project and what has been accomplished thus far. For additional information, please contact Sarah Lewis, sarah.lewis@nih.gov, 667-205-2604.

NASEM/CNSTAT Workshop on Improving Consent and Response in Longitudinal Studies of Aging – Virtual – September 27, 2021

The Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT) hosted a workshop to identify methods to improve response/retention and enhance consent protocols for biomarker and program (administrative) data linkage in nationally representative longitudinal studies of older Americans. This is in response to the 2019 NACA Review, which recommended that NIA prioritize research to develop new, more effective approaches for recruiting participants to ensure samples are population representative. The methods discussed included innovations in survey methods with a multidisciplinary approach, such as framing of questions and consent protocols employing insights from psychology and behavioral economics, messaging and participant engagement approaches about the value of study participation, efforts to understand what would motivate consent to specific protocols, and efforts to understand if a study has adequately secured a social license/trust with respondents. A summary will be produced and will appear on the NIA website at https://www.nia.nih.gov/research/dbsr/workshop-reports. For additional information, please contact Dr. John Phillips, John.Phillips@nih.gov, 301-496-3136.

American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR) Working Group on Aging Symposia – Virtual – October 3, 2021

Annually, there are 12 to 20 Working Groups that meet on the same night of the ASBMR meeting at the end of the regular scientific sessions. These Working Groups are not funded or sponsored by the ASBMR but are organized by people with similar interests. The level of attendance and the quality of these Working Group programs are wide-ranging. There is only one Working Group devoted to the science of aging, while there are a wide range on things like rare diseases and certain clinical problems. In order to build attendance, improve the quality of the program, and build NIA’s presence at ASBMR, the Division of Aging Biology and the Division of Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology combined efforts to provide modest annual financial support for the Working Group on Skeletal Aging. For more information, contact Dr. John Williams, DAB, 301-496-6402, and Dr. Lyndon Joseph, DGCG, 301-496-6761.

A Causative Role for Infectious Organisms in Alzheimer’s Disease – Virtual – October 5-6, 2021
Several studies have shown that AD/ADRD pathology is not caused solely by proteinopathies, but also by genetic, general aging-related factors, and environmental causes, including toxins and infectious agents. The goal of this NIA-sponsored workshop was to review evidence of how infectious agents contribute to AD/ADRD and to identify current research gaps and explore new opportunities for research. Participants included experts from academia, industry, and the public sector. For more information, contact Dr. Mack Mackiewicz, miroslaw.mackiewicz@nih.gov.

AAIC Neuroscience Next Virtual Conference – Virtual – October 12-13, 2021
In partnership with the Alzheimer’s Association, NIA co-hosted two virtual sessions on open science practices and resources for human studies and animal models research during the Alzheimer’s Association International Conference’s (AAIC’s) Neuroscience Next Conference. The two concurrent panel sessions, coordinated and facilitated by NIA staff, highlighted resources and tools on multi-omic human and animal model data resources/platforms, iPSC resources, biospecimens for AD/ADRD research, new animal models for LOAD, and diversity within clinical studies. The two panel sessions provided the more than 250 participants (mostly ESI and junior faculty) with a forum to engage with NIA program staff and investigators from NIA-funded programs like NCRAD, HABLE-AT(N), MODEL-AD Centers and the MODEL-AD associated STOP-AD Compound Nomination Portal, and the AD Knowledge Portal and the Portal-linked Agora platform. For more information, contact Susana Petanceska, petanceskas@nia.nih.gov, and Larry Refolo, larry.refolo@nih.gov.

4th Annual NIA-AA Symposium: Enabling Precision Medicine for Alzheimer’s Disease Through Open Science – Virtual – October 27-28, 2021

NIA and the Alzheimer’s Association co-hosted the 4th Annual Symposium: Enabling Precision Medicine for Alzheimer’s Disease Through Open Science, as a virtual two-day event on October 27-28, 2021. Historically held as a pre-conference event to AAIC, this virtual symposium featured an array of NIA-supported translational research programs that employ precision medicine principles and open-science practices to: 1) understand the complex and heterogeneous etiology of Alzheimer’s, 2) identify new disease-relevant targets and biomarkers, 3) develop the next generation animal models for late onset AD, and 4) advance novel targets into drug discovery by developing target enabling research tools. Specifically, the NIA-developed symposium featured scientific advances and enabling translational infrastructure resources developed by the Accelerating Medicines Partnership®- Alzheimer’s Disease (AMP® AD), the Alzheimer’s Gut Microbiome Project (AGMP), MODEL-AD Consortium, TREAT-AD Centers, the Alzheimer’s Biomarkers Consortium-Down Syndrome (ABC-DS) and other consortia. The virtual symposium was viewed by more than 1,500 individuals from over 60 countries, and can be accessed through the Alzheimer’s Association website. For more information, contact Susana Petanceska, petanceskas@nia.nih.gov.

Towards Interventions for Healthy Aging: Closing the Translational Gap Symposium – Virtual – October 29, 2021

On October 29, 2021, NIA hosted a one-day symposium, “Towards Interventions for Healthy Aging: Closing the Translational Gap.” This event was previously scheduled for September 15, 2020, but postponed due to the ongoing pandemic. Experts in the field presented their research and led discussions on the latest advances in translational medicine relevant to human aging in an effort to help identify knowledge gaps and challenges in developing interventions for extending health span during aging. For additional information, please contact Sarah Lewis, sarah.lewis@nih.gov, 667-205-2604.

NIA Investigators’ Meeting on Translational Bioinformatic Approaches to Drug Repurposing and Combination Therapy Development for AD/ADRD – Virtual – November 2-3, 2021

NIA launched the Translational Bioinformatics Program (PAR-20-156/PAR-17-032) in 2017 to support the use of innovative computational strategies to facilitate data-driven, precision medicine approaches to drug repurposing for AD/ADRD. At this NIA-supported meeting, investigators receiving funding through the drug repurposing FOA, conducting clinical trials with repurposed drugs, and with expertise in drug repurposing from industry, CPAD, FDA, and VA were invited to share their findings, methods, and lessons learned. The workshop enabled participants to share their insights and facilitate collaborations. It also allowed for identification of opportunities and resources needed to advance drug repurposing and combination therapies for AD/ADRD. For more information, contact Jean Yuan, xin.yuan@nih.gov.

Symposium on “Organellar Interactions in the Regulation of Aging and Longevity” at Gerontological Society of America (GSA) Annual Meeting – Virtual – November 10, 2021

This pre-conference workshop was held at the GSA conference on November 10, 2021. In recent years, exciting advances have been made in identifying unique modes of interaction and interplay between the organelles at direct contact sites or through network communication that can lead to profound changes in organellar function and overall cell homeostasis. More recently, the interplay between organelles has been shown to modulate cellular adaptative responses during metabolic stress, disease, and aging. In addition to organelle-organelle interaction, specific interactions between the lysosome and the nucleus have recently been shown to broadly influence transcriptional regulation, autophagy, and cell fate. Organelle crosstalk also influences aspects of lipid and protein quality control, hinting at roles for inter-organelle communication in aging-related diseases. In light of those recent advances, the focus of the symposium was to expand the current knowledge of critical organelle-organelle interactions in the context of stress and disease conditions to their implications in aging while exploring state-of-the-art technologies necessary to measure those interactions. For more information, contact Dr. Viviana Perez, 301-496-6428, and Dr. Yih-Woei Fridell, 301-496-7847.

13th Annual Baltimore Fellows Symposium (BFS) – Virtual – November 30, 2021

The 13th Annual Baltimore Fellows Symposium (BFS) was held on November 30, 2021. Dr. Bita Moghaddam, Professor of Behavioral Neuroscience at the Oregon Health and Science University, gave the keynote address titled, “Thinking Differently About Modeling Anxiety.”

For additional information, please contact Sarah Lewis, sarah.lewis@nih.gov, 667-205-2604.

First Interagency Mitochondria Meeting: Mitochondrial Dysfunction as a Universal Driver for Increased Health Risks: From COVID to Cosmos – Virtual – December 2-3, 2021

The meeting was organized by an interagency mitochondrial interest group and included NIBIB, NASA, and the University of Alabama. The goal of this meeting was to increase the awareness of the importance of mitochondria in disease initiation and progression, plus highlight the effects of unique environments on mitochondrial function and discuss what is needed to support the development of advanced diagnostics and sensors for bioenergetics that can monitor for disease onset and progression. The meeting was split up into four sessions over two days with the following main topics: (1) mitochondrial impact on immune function and inflammation, (2) impact of viral and bacterial pathogenesis on mitochondria, (3) mitochondria in space and other unique environments, and (4) preventative and therapeutics impact on bioenergetics and mitochondria impact with disease progression. DAB provided a small fund to defray the cost of videocasting and archiving, as well as Section 508 compliance measures. For more information, contact Dr. Yih-Woei Fridell, 301-496-7848, NIA, and Dr. Steve Zullo, 240-271-9007, NIBIB.

The Fifteenth Annual Division of Aging Biology New Investigators Forum (DABNIF) – Virtual – December 6-7, 2021

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 was to encourage continued success for the new PIs in the field of aging as well as to encourage interactions and collaborations. Specifically, DABNIF provided 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 presented a poster describing the planned research (or results to date) and gave an “elevator speech” short talk where they introduced themselves and briefly talked about their research interests and career goals. In addition to these activities, the forum’s agenda included 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, grant review issues and 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 to disseminate 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 more information, contact Dr. Manuel Moro, 301-496-6402.

Biology Underlying Moving and Thinking Symposium – Virtual – December 7, 2021

NIA hosted a one-day symposium, “Biology Underlying Moving and Thinking.” Experts in the field presented their research on the tipping point of cognitive and physical decline to address the issues with tools and to provide and share information. The workshop created a connection between the IRP and ERP and brought collaborators together to generate research papers and enhance collaborative efforts. For additional information, please contact Sarah Lewis, sarah.lewis@nih.gov, 667-205-2604.

Annual Tri-Consortia Investigators’ Meeting – Virtual – December 9-10, 2021

The NIA Division of Neuroscience held the virtual Annual Tri-Consortia Investigators’ Meeting. The goal of this meeting was to highlight research progress, data releases, scientific discovery and collaborations from open science practices from the three consortia — Accelerating Medicines Partnership® Alzheimer’s Disease (AMP® AD), the Model Organism Development and Evaluation for LOAD (MODEL-AD), and the Target Enablement to Accelerate Therapy Development for Alzheimer’s Disease (TREAT-AD) programs. This investigators’ meeting included more than 115 people from more than 11 research teams and DN Program Staff. For more information, contact Susana Petanceska, petanceskas@nia.nih.gov, and Larry Refolo, larry.refolo@nih.gov.

Future Meetings

Basic Mechanisms of Stem Cell and Immune Cell Regulation of Tissue Maintenance and Homeostasis: A Cross Tissue Comparison – TBD

What are the shared mechanisms required for stem cell survival, maintenance, and turnover that influence tissue homeostasis and/or regeneration during aging? How is homeostasis regulated during aging? Can we use AI and ML with a systems biology approach to uncover mechanisms regulating homeostasis that are common among different tissues? These are fundamental questions that are currently not well understood but may help to elucidate the link between aging and the development and progression of age-related comorbidities. These comparisons are now possible with the development of recent technologies including single cell analysis, multi-omics approaches, and AI advances, along with a better understanding of the different cell types residing within the tissues and organs. We now have more tools to address the mechanisms of aging that are critical to maintaining functional tissues and organs during aging of the organism. The goal of the three-day, in-person workshop will be to increase our understanding of the roles of heterogeneity, mosaicisms, and rates of aging in stem cells and tissue resident immune cells in tissue maintenance and homeostasis in various tissues. Investigators with expertise in tissue resident macrophages and stem cells in different organ/tissue systems such as adipose tissue, skin, heart, lung, liver, and intestines will be invited to discuss their role in tissue homeostasis. How this regulation is affected by the aging of the tissue and organ will also be discussed. Recent findings regarding the ontogeny and function of the macrophage populations in different tissues will be discussed in the context of how the macrophage population changes with aging. Sessions will include: (1) how homeostasis is impacted by the aging of tissues and organs; (2) how particular stem cells and resident macrophages change with aging; (3) effects of rates of aging on stem cell and resident macrophage turnover; (4) effects of aging on stem cell survival and maintenance across tissues, including how to maintain healthy aging by hindering quiescent stem cell depletion and maintaining the survival of healthy quiescent cells across tissues; and (5) stem cell rejuvenation in aging tissues across species and tissues, including translational research to discover how to revive aging stem cell function. For more information, contact Drs. Candace Kerr, 301-827-4474, and Rebecca Fuldner, 301-402-7748.

Biology of Aging in Reproductive Tissues Consortium – TBD

This will be an approximately one-day annual meeting for awardees of RFA-AG-20-036, “Biology of Aging in Reproductive Tissues,” and invited guests to make introductions and discuss future directions to accomplish the goals of the RFA. The RFA provided that PIs included costs to help support travel to this meeting in their applications. For more information, contact Dr. Candace Kerr, 301-827-4474.

Biology of Health Disparities in Aging – Virtual – TBD

Much of the health disparities research currently supported at NIH is heavily focused on social determinants, structural factors, and clinical outcomes; however, health disparities research addressing the biological perspective as outlined in the NIA Health Disparities Research Framework is limited and is usually examined in the context of known impacts/stressors or identified clinical disparities. The goals of the workshop will be to bring together researchers in the biology of aging with experts in basic research on health disparities to discuss the state of science related to understanding heterogeneity and rates of aging in and across diverse communities. In addition, participants will provide input on defining the mechanisms leading to disparities in conditions of aging. Feedback from this workshop will inform future research opportunities supported by DAB. This will a small, one-day, virtual workshop with 15-20 participants. For more information contact Dr. Stacy Carrington-Lawrence, 301-402-0836.

Caenorhabditis Intervention Testing Program (CITP) Grantee Meeting – TBD

This is the annual grantee meeting for the CITP. This year’s meeting intends to discuss the progress and accomplishment for the CITP and plan for the next phase of the CITP. The information and issues discussed at the meeting will help inform the NIA staff, NIA leadership, and the CITP Steering Committee about the status of the CITP. An additional objective of this workshop is to address the difficulties inherent in developing reproducibility, including the levels of detail required to achieve this important outcome. The issues related to aging hallmarks reporters and screening of AD-relevant compounds will be also discussed at this meeting. This is the end of the second phase of the CITP. This meeting will discuss detailed plans for the next phase of the CITP and how to implement data sharing tools and resources. The invited participants include the PIs and at least one staff member in the labs and the data coordinating center funded in the CITP. For more information, contact Drs. Viviana Perez, 301-496-6428, and Max Guo, 301-402-7747.

Exercise and Tissue Resilience in Aging – TBD

The benefits of exercise toward improving health throughout life are well accepted. The major knowledge gap lies in the fact that we do not understand the molecular mechanisms that mediate all of these myriad effects, since preclinical data from rats in MoTrPAC indicate that all organs respond to exercise and thus it is physiologically essential that these responses are coordinated and regulated in order to maintain overall homeostasis. Complex tissue interactions have been documented between multiple organs independent of exercise, and the dynamic and beneficial effects of exercise on numerous organ systems are also well documented. The purpose of this workshop is to bring together experts from diverse fields including exercise physiology, endocrinology, genetics, and bioinformatics to prioritize the areas that appear most ready for investigation and to advance our understanding of the molecular mechanisms regulating the responses to exercise the most. For more information, contact Dr. John Williams, 301-496-6403.

Heterochronic Blood Exchange Grantees Kickoff Meeting (RFA-AG-21-002) – TBD

The purpose of this kickoff meeting is to learn how prepared the 10 awardees are to begin the research proposed in their applications and to provide an opportunity for collaborations if those are of interest to the awardees. The meeting will include investigators working with these technologies but not supported by this RFA, to encourage continued work in this field. Awards under this RFA support research on aspects of rejuvenation and accelerated aging observed specifically in heterochronic blood exchange (HBE) experiments. The objectives are to identify the multiple factors involved, the multiple cell types involved, and the mechanisms underlying rejuvenation or accelerated aging that are observed in the transfer of phenotypes between young and old laboratory animals. It is also anticipated that molecular signatures of rejuvenation or accelerated aging will be obtained from research supported under this RFA. The value of heterochronic blood exchange is to understand causal factors for different rates of aging and to reveal mechanisms of rejuvenation or accelerated aging that might differ from the processes of aging without interventions. This evolves from the observation that young bodies can respond to “old information” and that old bodies retain responsiveness to “young information” vis-a-vis rates of aging in diverse tissues and cell types. The outcomes of research supported by this RFA, based on the applications received and the 10 awarded are several-fold and include at least the following: (1) How does rejuvenation or accelerated aging differ from molecular signatures (and other features) in the young or aged animals, respectively? (2) Achieve a better understanding of the heterogeneity of aging. (3) Do the effects of transferred aging phenotypes result in lasting impacts on the rate of aging? (4) What aspects of rejuvenation or acceleration of aging are either sufficient or necessary for the transfer of young/aged phenotypes? For more information, contact Drs. Siobhan Addie, 301-496-6402, and Ron Kohanski, 301-496-6402 (DAB), and Amanda Dibattista, 301-496-9350 (DN).

Integration of Basic Research Discoveries in the Biology of Aging With Epidemiological, Behavioral, and Sociocultural Factors Related to Health Disparities – Virtual – TBD

Understanding health disparities and how they are impacted by the biology of aging is a high priority for the division. The NIA Health Disparities Framework and Goal F of the NIA Strategic Plan call attention to and highlight the importance of understanding the biological factors that delineate disparities in aging-related outcomes among health disparities populations and across the sexes. Social and environmental factors significantly influence the trajectory of aging, health status, and outcomes and are major identifiers of populations at risk for health disparities. Also evident is the clear distinction in sexual dimorphisms in longevity, comorbidities, and disease outcomes. For those entering older age from positions of disadvantage, the burdens are greater, and the consequences of this disadvantage from a biological perspective represent a gap and may be dependent on several factors involved in differential rates of aging. The aims for this workshop will be to provide a forum to discuss how current aging biology research and recent discoveries can integrate within and inform the health disparities in aging research agenda. This will likely be a two-day, virtual workshop with 20-30 participants. For more information, contact Dr. Stacy Carrington-Lawrence, 301-402-0836.

OncoAging Consortium – TBD

In collaboration with NCI, this will be an approximately one-day kickoff meeting for the OncoAging Consortium consisting of talks from NIA and NCI investigators of RFA-CA-20-040, “Aging, Cancer-Initiating Cells, and Cancer Development,” in addition to invited guests, to make introductions and discuss future directions to accomplish the goals of the RFA. The RFA provided that PIs included costs to help support travel to this meeting in their applications. For more information, contact Dr. Candace Kerr, 301-827-4474.

31st Annual Nathan W. Shock Award Lecture – Baltimore – January 31, 2022

This lecture, previously scheduled for November 17, 2020, will be held on January 31, 2022. Honorees Dr. Steve Horvath, Professor of Biostatistics and Human Genetics at the University of California, Los Angeles, and Dr. Morgan Levine, Assistant Professor of Pathology and Epidemiology at Yale University School of Medicine, will receive the Nathan W. Shock Award and present their research. For additional information, please contact Sarah Lewis, sarah.lewis@nih.gov, 667-205-2604.

Limbic-Predominant Age-Related Tdp-43 Encephalopathy (LATE) 2022 Meeting – Virtual – February 11, 2022

The virtual LATE meeting will take place on Friday, February 11, and the draft agenda and registration information are available here. LATE 2022 is an open follow-up meeting organized in collaboration with NIA to continue the conversation on LATE with a series of talks and discussions on the research since the last workshop, which was held in 2018 and resulted in this publication. The meeting will include a wide range of topics including epidemiology, clinical and imaging features, potential biomarkers, and genetic studies in LATE. The meeting will also highlight and have open discussion on the important intersection between LATE and frontotemporal lobar degeneration with TDP-43 inclusions (FTLD-TDP), including similarities as well as important differences that distinguish the two, and the common co-occurrence of LATE with Alzheimer’s disease. The goals of LATE 2022 are to provide updates, stimulate discussion, and consider future directions. All are invited to attend. For more information, contact Nina Silverberg, silverbergn@mail.nih.gov.

Social Network Diffusion of Individual Behavior Change Intervention – Virtual – March 2022

Large-scale behavior change is often conceptualized as resulting from widespread dissemination and implementation of behavioral interventions that have been developed for individuals or other small social units, such as the dyad or family. Efforts prioritize direct administration of an intervention to all individuals within a target population. An alluring but underexamined alternative model for producing large-scale behavior change involves leveraging social network dynamics. By strategically administering an intervention to key “change agents” within a social network, behavior change can be efficiently diffused to other members of the network who themselves never directly received the intervention. NIA’s Division of Behavioral and Social Research will convene a workshop with subject matter experts to discuss gaps, opportunities, and strategies for adapting individual behavior change interventions to leverage social network dynamics. The workshop will focus on how social network interventions can be leveraged to promote healthy aging, slowing of cognitive decline and prevention of AD/ADRD, and improved care for persons living with AD/ADRD and their care partners. For additional information, contact Dr. Elizabeth Necka, liz.necka@nih.gov, 301-480-6947, or Laura Major, laura.major@nih.gov.

Can Autism Spectrum Disorders Tell Us Anything About Alzheimer’s Disease – Virtual – March 8-9, 2022
The goal of this workshop, sponsored by NIA, is to discuss whether there might be a link between Autism Spectrum Disorders and Alzheimer’s disease. Specifically, can this potential link help us in understanding, and eventually treating, Alzheimer’s disease? The workshop will cover idiopathic autism spectrum disorders as well as single-gene causes of autism (such as Fragile X syndrome and Tuberous Sclerosis). We will review knowledge gaps and establish scientific priorities to address these gaps. We will cover clinical, epidemiology, and basic science. For more information, contact Lisa Opanashuk, lisa.opanashuk@nih.gov.

Modeling Basic Mechanisms of Brain Aging In Vitro and In Silico – Virtual – Spring 2022

The objectives of this NIA-sponsored, virtual, two-day workshop will be to highlight recent research advances in modeling basic mechanisms of brain aging using in vitro and in silico techniques, including consideration of the ethical implications accompanying this research. The workshop will facilitate interdisciplinary collaboration among investigators in these areas to identify research gaps and opportunities for progress, particularly in applying these in vitro and in silico brain aging models to better understand diseases of aging such as Alzheimer’s disease and its related dementias (AD/ADRD). Moreover, it will provide an opportunity to develop new solutions to common research challenges encountered in these fields. For additional information, contact Dr. Amanda DiBattista, amanda.dibattista@nih.gov.

Symposium on “The Impact of Aging on Musculoskeletal Crosstalk” at the Experimental Biology (Eb) Annual Meeting – Philadelphia – April 2–5, 2022

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 on April 2-5, 2022, in Philadelphia. Each speaker will be asked to give a 20-minute presentation on their recent research findings with an emphasis on how it relates to the area of aging-related changes in the physiological interactions of the year’s symposium topic, “The Impact of Aging on Musculoskeletal Crosstalk.” The symposium will be chaired by Division of Aging Biology program staff (Drs. Candace Kerr and John Williams). For more information, contact Drs. Candace Kerr, 301-827-4474, and John Williams, 301-496-6403.

27th Annual NIA/IRP Scientific Retreat – Baltimore – April 4-5, 2022

The two-day, NIA-sponsored event will feature two large poster sessions, brief talks from IRP scientists, and a keynote address from Dr. Michael Gottesman.

Nia-Sponsored Symposium, “Microbiome Alterations With Aging,” at the Annual Meeting of the American Association of Immunologists (AAI) – Portland, Oregon – May 6-10, 2022

This NIA-sponsored symposium will be held at the American Association of Immunologists’ annual meeting. 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 more information, contact Dr. Rebecca Fuldner, 301-402-7748.

Effects of Genetic Variations on Anti-Aging Interventions – Hybrid Meeting – June 2022

Individuals vary in their genotypes and expression of their complex traits. These genetic variations can have lasting effects on their aging and how they respond to anti-aging interventions. It is often assumed that anti-aging or lifespan interventions would have similar effects across different individuals. It is also often assumed lifespan interventions extend healthspan, which is thus often ignored in aging studies. However, some studies have shown that certain lifespan interventions, such as calorie restriction, can have quite different or even opposite effects on animals with different genetic background. A better understanding of the effects of the genetic variations on the anti-aging interventions will not only uncover novel pathways but help better understand how natural evolution has shaped lifespan and aging. This workshop will evaluate the current status of the studies in this field and discuss the following questions: (1) What evidence do we have for genetic variation for response to interventions? (2) What evidence do we lack but should prioritize? (3) What evidence do we have for mechanisms that underlie the Genotype —> Phenotype map? (4) What should be prioritized in this realm? Understanding natural genetic variation will be critical to the application of personalized geroscience approaches in the future. This workshop will be co-organized by DAB’s Max Guo, Daniel Promislow (University of Washington), and Pankaj Kapahi (Buck Institute). We plan to have this meeting on the campus of the University of Washington in June 2022. It will be planned as a hybrid meeting (both in-person and virtual video conference) to have more participation. For more information, please contact Dr. Max Guo, 301-402-7747.

Reconsider Dietary Interventions: Macronutrient Restriction, Fasting-Refeeding and Human Applications – Bethesda, Maryland – June 2022

To date, calorie restriction (CR) remains the most robust and consistent experimental paradigm to increase longevity in model organisms, discrepant results in non-human primates notwithstanding. However, recent studies have shown that in rodents, prolonged fasting accompanying the CR regimen may in fact contribute to the health and longevity benefits of CR. In this regard, intermittent fasting, prolonged fasting, or time-restricted feeding have all been shown to exert various levels of health benefits in several animal and human studies, albeit with certain side effects. Furthermore, selective macronutrient restriction, including amino acids and sugars, can influence nutrient sensing pathways and achieve healthspan and longevity benefits. Thus, alternative to sustained CR, manipulation of nutrient composition and the timings of fasting and refeeding hold a great potential to evoke innovative dietary interventions to promote human health. The workshop is planned to take place in June 2022 in Bethesda, Maryland. For more information, please contact Dr. Yih-Woei Fridell, 301-496-7847.

The Sixteenth Annual Division of Aging Biology New Investigators Forum (DABNIF) – Bethesda, Maryland – June 28-29, 2022

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 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 presents a poster describing the 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, grant review issues, and 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 to disseminate 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 increased their interactions with DAB staff. They are also much more likely to keep DAB staff informed of their new publications and progress. In addition, the format of the forum reflects past years’ anonymous participant evaluation and feedback. For more information, please contact Dr. Manuel Moro, 401-496-6402.

American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR) Working Group on Aging Symposia – Austin, Texas – September 9-12, 2022

Annually, there are 12 to 20 Working Groups that meet on the same night of the ASBMR meeting at the end of the regular scientific sessions. These Working Groups are not funded or sponsored by the ASBMR but are organized by people with similar interests. The level of attendance and the quality of these Working Group programs are wide-ranging. There is only one Working Group devoted to the science of aging, while there are a wide range on things like rare diseases and certain clinical problems. In order to build attendance, improve the quality of the program, and build the NIA presence at ASBMR, the Division of Aging Biology and the Division of Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology plan to combine efforts to provide modest annual financial support for the Working Group on Skeletal Aging. For more information, contact Dr. John Williams, DAB, 301-496-6402, and Dr. Lyndon Joseph, DGCG, 301-496-6761.

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Content, Media, Outreach, and Meetings

Web Content

Center for Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias

In October, NIA launched the new website for the Center for Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias (CARD). The new website is a collaborative effort and offers resources and expertise in Alzheimer’s and related dementias research programs, data, and job and training opportunities.

Featured Research

Health Information Articles

Alzheimers.gov Articles

In September, NIA launched Alzheimers.gov/es, a Spanish companion to the English Alzheimers.gov, launched in February 2021. In addition, NIA updated the following articles:

Inside NIA Blog

Print Publications

Media & Outreach

Media

NIH News Releases

Web Statements and Announcements

Outreach

Videos

Infographics

Social Media

  • ADEAR Twitter (@Alzheimers_NIH): 14,520 followers
    • Note: The NIA Twitter handle was changed to @NIHAging on 12/1/2021
  • NIA Facebook page (@NIHAging): 19,245 followers

Email Listservs

Sent 80 emails from 8/1/2021 to 11/20/2021 to the following email lists:

  • Healthy Aging Highlights: 43,671 subscribers
  • Alzheimer’s News & Announcements: 26,593 subscribers
  • Alzheimer’s Recruitment Resources: 3,887 subscribers
  • Alzheimer’s Clinical Trials: 26,593 subscribers
  • News Round-Up: 50,798 subscribers
  • NIA for Caregivers: 15,966 subscribers
  • Inside NIA Blog: 19,976 subscribers
  • NIA Funding Opportunities: 13,397 subscribers

Webinars

Meetings

Conferences, Exhibits, and Events

Meetings with Stakeholders

  • American Urological Association (AUA), August 2021 – Dr. Richard Hodes, Dr. Melinda Kelley, and NIA staff met with AUA to discuss NIA administrative updates and relevant NIA-funded science advances, as well as research priorities and recommendations put forth by AUA.
  • Butler-Williams Scholars Program, August 2021 – Dr. Richard Hodes provided introductory remarks and NIA administrative updates. The Butler-Williams Scholars Program offered early-career investigators a comprehensive introduction to aging research facilitated by NIA leaders and staff. The program featured seminars on core NIA research areas, informational sessions on grants and funding opportunities, and topical discussions.
  • Friends of the NIA (FoNIA), September 2021 – Dr. Richard Hodes and Dr. Melinda Kelley, along with NIA staff, met with members of FoNIA to review recent NIA science advances and initiatives.
  • Maximizing Opportunities for Scientific and Academic Independent Careers (MOSAIC) Scholars Meeting, October 2021 – Dr. Richard Hodes provided remarks for the first Annual MOSAIC Scholars Meeting about NIA’s efforts to support Early-Stage Investigators and promote workforce diversity. The meeting allowed scholars to learn about opportunities to support their research careers in the extramural and intramural research communities.
  • Alzheimer’s Foundation of America (AFA) Science Advisory Board Roundtable, November 2021 – Dr. Melinda Kelley presented to AFA Advisory Board Members on initiatives impacting dementia research and care, including cognitive screening, brain health, early AD diagnostic tools, AD care and caregiving, and COVID-19.
  • NIH Rural Health Day, November 2021 – Dr. Richard Hodes provided remarks on NIA-funded efforts exploring sociocultural and economic determinants of health, particularly in rural settings.

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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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