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May 2020 Director's Status Report

Click on the links below to view sections of the May 2020 Director's Status Report:

Budget and Appropriations

Status of the FY 2020 Budget

FY 2020

On December 17, 2019, the House passed H.R. 1865, the Further Consolidated Appropriations Act, 2020, by a vote of 297-120. On December 19, 2019, the Senate passed H.R. 1865 by a vote of 71-23. The bill was signed by the President on December 20, 2019 and provides FY 2020 appropriations to multiple agencies. Of note, the bill provides $41.7 billion for medical research at the NIH, a nearly 7 percent increase over FY 2019 funding. This funding for the NIH includes an extra $350 million for Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias (AD/ADRD) research, bringing NIH’s total AD/ADRD funding to $2.8 billion and NIA’s overall funding to $3.5 billion. These appropriations fund the NIH/NIA through September 30, 2020.

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Legislative Update

May 2020

Legislation of Interest:

No legislation with specific relevance to NIA was noted.

Hearings, Visits, and Other Topics of Interest:

On February 11, 2020, NIH Director Francis Collins attended the annual congressional reception hosted by the Children’s Inn at NIH. NIH Institute Directors, including Dr. Hodes, joined Dr. Collins at the event.

On February 11, 2020, NIA Director Richard Hodes met with Representative Lois Frankel (D-FL) to discuss Alzheimer’s research.

On February 11, 2020, NIA Director Richard Hodes met with Representative Brett Guthrie (R-KY) to discuss Alzheimer’s research.

On February 11, 2020, NIA Director Richard Hodes met with Representative Jan Schakowsky (D-IL) to discuss Alzheimer’s research.

On February 28, 2020, NIA Director Richard Hodes participated in a briefing for Energy and Commerce Oversight and Investigations staff on Alzheimer's disease. Lisa McGuire, CDC Lead for Alzheimer’s Disease and Healthy Aging Program and Helen Lamont, an analyst in the ASPE Office of Disability, Aging, and Long-Term Care Policy also participated.

On March 3, 2020, NIA Clinical Interventions and Diagnostics Branch Chief Laurie Ryan, NICHD Intellectual and Developments Disabilities Branch Chief Melissa Parisi, NIA Senior Advisor on Clinical Research Recruitment and Engagement Holly Masset, and NIA Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centers Director Nina Silverberg briefed Senator Bob Casey’s (D-PA) and Susan Collins’ (R-ME) Aging Committee staff on Alzheimer’s Disease in Underrepresented Patients and Patients with Down Syndrome.

On March 13, 2020, NIA Office of Research Resources Director Partha Bhattacharyya and Health Scientist Administrator Marcel Salive briefed Senate Aging Committee staff on programs/interventions and latest efforts to managing polypharmacy and adverse drug events for older populations.

On April 1, 2020, NIA Director Richard Hodes and NINDS Director Walter Koroshetz briefed Senate and House Appropriations Subcommittee on Labor, HHS, Education and Related Agencies Majority and Minority staff on the new Center for Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias facility.

Submitted by: Dawn Beraud, Ph.D., Health Science Policy Analyst, National Institute on Aging

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General Information

The Intramural Research Programs (IRP) of the National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) have established the Center for Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias (CARD). CARD seeks to initiate, stimulate, accelerate, and support research in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and related neurodegenerative disorders, leading to the development of improved treatments and cures. CARD will perform translational and clinical research to understand, define, and treat AD and related dementias, with a focus on collaboration, reproducibility, foundational resource production, and innovative solutions to existing field-wide problems. The NIA and NINDS are currently recruiting for a permanent CARD Director.

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Staff Changes and Honors

Staff Honors

In April 2020, the Women’s Scientist Advisors (WSA) awarded Dr. Lori Beason-Held, Staff Scientist, Laboratory of Behavioral Neuroscience (LBN), and Dr. Marina Weiler, Postdoctoral Fellow, LBN, with the Excellence in Research Award. The WSA also announced that Dr. Mayuri Tanaka, Postdoctoral Visiting Fellow, Translational Gerontology Branch (TGB), 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, received Research Recognition Awards. The WSA Award Ceremony to formally recognize awardees will be held in Fall 2020.

Dr. Richard Spencer, Chief of the Magnetic Resonance Imaging and Spectroscopy Section in the Laboratory of Clinical Investigation (LCI), was elected as Vice Chair of the Topical Group on Medical Physics of the American Physical Society. According to their website, the Topical Group is “committed to the advancement and diffusion of knowledge of physics in various areas of medicine. This includes, but is not limited to the physics of imaging, therapy, and modeling, with applications in oncology, neurology, cardiology, as well other diseases and normal physiological states.”

Staff Changes

Dr. Kevin Becker, Staff Scientist/Facility Head of the Gene Expression and Genomics Unit in the Laboratory of Genetics and Genomics (LGG), retired in February 2020. Dr. Becker received his Ph.D. in Molecular Biology and Genetics from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in 1989. He completed his Postdoctoral Fellowship in the Laboratory of Developmental and Molecular Immunity at the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, where he later became a Staff Fellow. Dr. Becker went on to become a Senior Staff Fellow with the National Institute of Neurological Diseases and Stroke and then joined the National Center for Human Genome Research as a Special Expert in the Laboratory of Cancer Genetics. Dr. Becker joined the NIA in 1998, where he has since led the Gene Expression and Genomics Unit and made major contributions in the application of bioinformatics and building comprehensive comparative databases; assembling custom cDNA arrays including model species microarrays such as Drosphila, Aplysia, and Coral; and using cDNA arrays that are novel in the field of gene expression analysis.

On March 1, 2020, Jessica Boten joined BSR as a Social Science Analyst primarily responsible for supporting BSR’s Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and AD-related dementias (ADRD) research and training programs. Prior to joining BSR, she worked for six years at the National Cancer Institute’s Surveillance Research Program as the project lead for the NCI-Department of Energy Collaboration Pilot 3. Jessica received a Bachelor of Arts in Public Health and Hispanic Studies from the College of William and Mary and a Master’s in Public Health (specializing in Health Behavior) at UNC-Chapel Hill, where she focused on developing instructional videos for Alzheimer's caregivers on how to take vital signs.

The National Institute on Aging’s Intramural Research Program welcomes Dr. Giovanna Fantoni as a Staff Scientist/Facility Head in the Clinical Research Core (CRC). Dr. Fantoni received her degree in Public Health in 2004 from the Universitia degli Studi di Milano, Italy. She then completed her Postdoctoral Fellowship at the NIH Clinical Center in the Critical Care Medicine Department, where she later became a Research Fellow under the mentorship of Dr. J.A. Kovacs. Dr. Fantoni completed an Office of Regulatory Affairs University Fellowship with the Food and Drug Administration before returning to the NIH in the Center for Human Immunology, Autoimmunity, and Inflammation at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Disease, where she served as a Biologist before coming the Leader of the Proteomic Platform. In September 2019, Dr. Fantoni joined the NIA IRP CRC as the Core Facility Head of the Wet Lab for human tissue processing and bioanalysis, where she provides support and services for longitudinal studies of aging, including the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging (BLSA) and the Healthy Aging in Neighborhoods of Diversity across the Life Span (HANDLS) study, and supports and carries out intervention studies with a focus on immunological, cognitive, and physical frailty.

Jennie Larkin, Ph.D., was recently appointed as the Deputy Director of the NIA Division of Neurosciences. Dr. Larkin was previously the Director of the Office of Research Evaluation and Operations (OREO) at the National Institute for Diabetes and Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIDDK), which was responsible for coordinating NIDDK disease coding and inclusion monitoring, publishing Funding Opportunity Announcements, supporting the NIDDK Advisory Council, and evaluating portfolios at the request of NIDDK leadership. Dr. Larkin also led the NIDDK data management and data science working group and served on multiple trans-NIH data science policy and program development groups that report to the NIH Data Science Policy Council and the NIH Scientific Data Council. Preceding her position as OREO Director, Dr. Larkin was Senior Advisor to the NIH Associate Director for Data Science, Dr. Phil Bourne, and was responsible for coordinating extramural activities and strategic planning for the Big Data to Knowledge (BD2K) program. Prior to managing the BD2K program, she was a Program Director at the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute (NHLBI), responsible for a diverse portfolio in data science, computational biology and mathematical modeling, and genomics, and coordinator for the LINCS Common Fund program. Throughout her time at NIH, she has been a leader in data sharing and has served as an expert reviewer for numerous NIH data science programs. Her research prior to joining NIH included functional genomics at the Institute for Genomics Research (TIGR), neuroendocrinology and circadian rhythms at University of California at Berkeley, and comparative neurophysiology of hibernation and sleep at Stanford University. She earned a Ph.D. from Stanford, a MS in zoology from University of Washington, and an undergraduate degree in biological sciences from Wellesley College and University of Cambridge.

Lyn Neil, Program Analyst in BSR, retired from the federal government on February 28, 2020, after spending all of her 18-plus years of federal service with BSR. She re-joined BSR on March 23, 2020, working half time as a contractor assisting with administrative activities across the Division and providing valuable mentorship in the area of contracts.

On March 1, 2020, NIA appointed Lisbeth Nielsen, Ph.D., as the Director of the Division of Behavioral and Social Research; she had served as Acting Director since the retirement of John Haaga, Ph.D., in December 2019. Nielsen has a long history of leadership in the behavioral and social sciences at NIH; She served for 15 years as a program director and, since 2012, served as chief of the NIA BSR Individual Behavioral Processes Branch. She also held leadership roles in the NIH Science of Behavior Change Common Fund program and the trans-NIH Basic Behavioral and Social Sciences Opportunity Network. In these roles Nielsen has built bridges linking psychological and behavioral science to economics, genetics, neuroscience, biology, epidemiology, social science, and biomedicine, at all levels from basic to translational, to enhance the impact of aging-related research and create opportunities for behavioral and social scientists to participate in high level scientific initiatives of the NIA and NIH. Nielsen earned her Ph.D. in cognitive psychology and cognitive science from the University of Arizona, a master’s degree in psychology from Copenhagen University, and a B.A. in philosophy from Rhodes College. Prior to joining NIH, Nielsen conducted research in the affective and decision science of aging at Stanford University. She is a fellow of the Academy of Behavioral Medicine Research, the Association for Psychological Science, and the Mind and Life Institute. See link: Lisbeth Nielsen appointed Director of NIA/BSR

Dr. Dennis Ongubo joined BSR on February 18, 2020, as a Health Specialist serving as BSR’s Clinical Research Coordinator. Prior to joining BSR he worked as a Clinical Research Coordinator for Kelly Government Solutions. Dr. Ongubo received an MD in Medicine and Surgery from the University of Nairobi (Kenya, Africa) and a master’s degree in Public Health and Tropical Medicine from Tulane University, where he was awarded a Fogarty International Center (FIC/NIH) research training grant in 2014-2015 to conduct a pharmacovigilance study for antiretroviral drugs in Lilongwe, Malawi.

Felipe Sierra, Ph.D., Director, Division of Aging Biology retired on April 30, 2020. Dr. Sierra’s tenure at NIA started in 2002, when he joined DAB as a program officer. He came from parallel appointments at The Lankenau Institute for Medical Research in Philadelphia and the Universidad de Chile. In 2006 Dr. Sierra was appointed Director of the Division. The field of aging biology experienced exponential growth, thanks to the efforts of his predecessors in developing programs like the Nathan Shock Centers and the newly minted Interventions Testing Program. Dr. Sierra’s contribution has been tremendous, through concepts such as healthspan, geroscience, and, more recently, molecular and cellular resilience. Dr. Ronald Kohanski has taken over as Acting Director of DAB.

Dr. Andrew Singleton, NIH Distinguished Investigator, has been appointed as Acting Director of the newly established Center for Alzheimer’s and Related Dementias (CARD). Dr. Singleton had previously served as Chief of the Laboratory of Neurogenetics (LNG) since 2008. Although he will maintain his section within LNG, Dr. Singleton will be stepping down as Chief to focus his efforts on the implementation phase of CARD while the NIA conducts an international search for a permanent Director. Dr. Mark Cookson, Senior Investigator in LNG, will serve as Acting Chief of LNG to ensure research continuity within the lab.

Dr. Alan Zonderman, Senior Investigator in the Laboratory of Epidemiology and Population Sciences (LEPS), retired from the NIA IRP in January 2020. Dr. Zonderman received his Ph.D. in Psychology from the University of Colorado, Boulder in 1977. After his time as a Postdoctoral Fellow in Multivariate Statistics in the Department of Psychology at the University of California, Berkley, he went on to become an Assistant Professor in the Department of Psychology at the Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Zonderman then joined the Laboratory of Personality and Cognition (LPC), NIA, as a Senior Staff Fellow and later became the Chief of the Lifespan, Cognition, and Health Section of the Laboratory of Behavioral Neurosciences (LBN), formerly the Cognition Section of the LPC. In 2012, Dr. Zonderman became the Chief of the Behavioral Epidemiology Section in LEPS. During his career with the LEPS, Dr. Zonderman’s research focused on health disparities, age-associated cognitive changes, and dementia.

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Institute-sponsored Meetings, Workshops, and Conferences

Past Meetings

Elder Mistreatment Informal network Meeting – Pasadena, California – February 26, 2020

This meeting brought together the seven researchers who receiving funded for applications in response to RFA-AG-18-010, “Uncovering the Causes, Contexts, and Consequences of Elder Mistreatment (R01).” To establish and foster a collaborative environment among the researchers, BSR hosted this one-day, face-to-face meeting in Pasadena, California, at which the researchers presented their research activities and plans and discussed future directions.

For additional information please email Dr. Melissa Gerald or call 301-496-3136.

The Aging Adrenal Gland – Bethesda, MD – February 26-27, 2020

The purpose of this workshop was to discuss recent advances in aging research targeting the adrenal gland, including a focus on the effects of the hormones it secretes and crosstalk with other organ systems. Speakers discussed their recent findings on the basic mechanisms that regulate aging of the adrenal gland, how aging changes the quantity and quality of its secreted factors, and how these changes affect functioning in other organs.

For additional information, contact Dr. Candace Kerr, 301-827-4474 and Dr. John Williams, 301-496-6403.

Neurogenesis and Aging Workshop – Bethesda, MD – March 16-17, 2020

The goal of this NIA-sponsored one-and-a-half-day workshop was to bring together experts in neurogenesis to review the current state of the science, discuss the extrinsic and intrinsic factors affecting neurogenesis in the aging brain and in AD/ADRD, and debate the functional significance of adult neurogenesis in the context of aging and AD/ADRD. A mix of researchers using animal models, studying human pathology, and offering clinical perspectives on neurogenesis discussed how brain aging and neurodegenerative disease research might be facilitated by emerging theories, approaches, and methodology in this field. The purpose of the workshop was to foster new collaborations and directions that may yield innovative strategies in aging and AD/ADRD research, ultimately improving the health and well-being of older adults. The workshop was held via videoconference to accommodate increasing COVID-19 restrictions and responsibilities. Sixteen speakers from across and outside the US presented in one of three sessions - (1) neurogenesis in the adult human brain; (2) regulation of neurogenesis in the aging brain; and (3) functional significance of adult neurogenesis. An Executive Summary of the workshop is being produced and will be posted on the NIA website.

For additional information, email Dr. Amanda DiBattista, Dr. Molly Wagster, or Dr. Bradley Wise.

IMAG Multiscale Modeling Consortium Meeting – Virtual Meeting – March 17, 2020

The Interagency Modeling and Analysis Group (IMAG) is a government group of program officials from multiple federal government agencies supporting research funding for modeling and analysis of biomedical, biological, and behavioral systems. The annual Multiscale Modeling Consortium meeting provides a venue for scientists who are working on multiscale modeling to share state-of-the-art modeling techniques with each other, address important issues in the field, and brainstorm next steps to further broaden the impact of the multiscale modeling community. This year’s meeting, co-sponsored by NIA, focused on the theme “Amplifying Impact by Nurturing Diversity” (IMAG-AND), with the intent to feature scientific sessions covering various forms of diversity, panel discussions, and small working group activities to grow and enhance the community of multiscale modelers. However, due to the COVID-19 pandemic, a condensed version of the program was hosted via WebEx conference to feature the Multiscale Modeling trainees who were scheduled to present in-person. A trainee poster competition was also conducted online. The IMAG-AND meeting has been rescheduled for March 17-18, 2021 in Bethesda, MD.

For more information, email Dr. Coryse St. Hillaire-Clarke.

2020 Trans-NIH Alzheimer’s Disease (AD) Workgroup Meeting – Virtual Meeting – March 27, 2020

This annual event provided a venue for participants from across NIH Institutes and Centers (ICs) to discuss research and collaborations in AD/ADRD). Held remotely this year due to COVID-19 in-person meeting limitations, this NIA-sponsored meeting was attended by over 80 participants from FIC, NCCIH, NHLBI, NIAAA, NIAID, NIAMS, NIBIB, NICHD, NIDCD, NIDCR, NIDDK, NIEHS, NIMH, NIMHD, NINDS, NINR, and the NIH Office of AIDs Research and the Office of Science Policy. NIA Director Richard Hodes presented AD and ADRD funding and collaborative activities across ICs, while NINDS ADRD Program Lead Rod Corriveau and NIA Program Director Elena Fazio presented 2019 and 2020 AD Research Summit activities, recommendations, and milestones. This event was hosted by the NIA Office of the Director and NIA Division of Neuroscience.

For more information, email Dr. Jean Tiong-Koehler.

Alzheimer’s Disease Sequencing Project (ADSP) Program Review – Virtual Meeting – April 16, 2020

The primary goal of the ADSP is to use genetic and genomic approaches to understand AD pathophysiology, with the goal of developing pharmacological targets that can lead to effective treatments for AD. The ADSP members published 84 manuscripts in 2019. With 47 cohorts to date, ADSP is leveraging the power of multiple different study designs, including longitudinal cohorts, case-control datasets, and family-based datasets. The ADSP is bringing an important and significant focus on increasing the diversity of these datasets, both nationally and internationally. Extensive international collaborations are now integral to the Project, including those in India, Korea, Australia, the Iberian Peninsula, and Iceland, in addition to ongoing collaborations with the International Genomics Project (IGAP), AMP AD, and ADNI. Three new major initiatives were launched during the past year: 1) Phenotypic Data Harmonization (PAR-20-099), 2) Machine Learning Approaches to Analysis of ADSP Data (PAR-19-269), and 3) ADSP Functional Genomics (RFA-AG-21-006). The ADSP Program Review virtual meeting was held on April 16, 2020. The purpose of this meeting was to report to NIA program staff and the ADSP external advisors progress made by the ADSP since the meeting in April of 2019. Scientific highlights presented at the meeting included: 1) The risk effect of the APOE-e4 allele is dependent on the continental ancestry of the APOE gene; 2) Whole Exome Sequencing and Whole Genome Sequencing are revealing rare variants in known and novel genes; 3) Family-based datasets and novel analytical approaches are particularly powerful for detecting rare variant effects in AD; 4) Diverse ethnic and racial cohorts greatly enhance the pool of discoverable rare variants; 5) Integrating genetic discoveries with orthogonal genomic data enhances our knowledge of AD pathogenesis; and 6) Examining endophenotypes related to AD provides new insights into AD risk and pathogenesis. The meeting provided updates on the ADSP working groups, including Data Harmonization, Protective Variants, Gene Verification, and Functional Genomics.

For more information, email Dr. Marilyn Miller.

Use of Neurotechnology in Normal Brain Aging, Alzheimer’s Disease, and AD-related dementias – Virtual Meeting – April 27, 2020

The goals of this workshop were to identify opportunities for development or use of non-invasive devices that can 1) monitoring neuronal function-based processes related to the aging brain and AD/ADRD, and 2) be used to as an intervention or therapeutics for age-related cognitive decline or AD/ADRD. Current biomarkers for AD/ADRD include neuroimaging and CSF- or blood-based approaches. These do not reveal information about real-time brain function. The neuronal function-based devices could serve as neurophysiological markers for early detection and monitoring of brain aging and dementia, and thus represent the focus of the current workshop. The workshop convened more than 250 engineers, neuroscientists, and physician-scientists to share information on state-of-the-art sensors and devices for in-home monitoring, as well as potential therapeutic use. Sixteen speakers featured ongoing studies and discussed current challenges and opportunities. At the end, the FDA leaders from the Division of Neurological Devices shared regulatory consideration regarding the regulating diagnostic devices.

For more information, email Dr. Yuan Luo.

Heterogeneity and the Rate of Aging – Virtual Meeting – May 7-8, 2020

This workshop was held to consider specific approaches to expansion of the Nathan Shock Centers of Excellence.

Research over the past several decades suggests that aging results from deleterious changes at the level of biomolecules, organelles, and cells. These are manifest in tissues and the whole organism as declining resilience and losses of function, with increased frailty and susceptibility to disease. It is important to observe these changes at multiple levels and to have accessible internet-based methods for displaying or visualizing the results. It is also critical to establish standards-of-reference against which investigators can compare their results. Such observation and visualization would be dependent on current and emerging technologies, such as light sheet and expansion microscopy, single-cell RNAseq, and proteomics and chromatin structure analysis. Technology is ever improving, and that presents a unique challenge for research that may be met through expansion of the Nathan Shock Centers of Excellence in the Biology of Aging. The participants in this workshop included experts in analysis of high-volume data sets that imaging and single-cell technologies generate, as well as developers of websites for visualization and interrogation of those data. This workshop was held as a virtual meeting in Bethesda, MD.

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

National Academies of Science, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) Committee on National Statistics Spring Seminar on “Non-Traditional Sampling Methods for Population Aging Research on Small Populations” – Washington, DC – May 6, 2020

NASEM organized a meeting on sampling methods for rare populations of interest for aging research. The 2019 Division of Behavioral and Social Research (BSR) National Advisory Council on Aging (NACA) review strongly recommend more and improved research on health disparities in aging, including the inclusion of diverse populations in adequate numbers for statistical power, to study within- and between-group variation, at multiple levels of analysis. BSR sought input from the Committee on National Statistics (CNSTAT) on how to address the challenges of conducting population aging studies with small population groups that cannot be efficiently accomplished using area-based probability sampling methods. Such groups include Asian Americans, sexual and gender minorities, and groups identified by socioeconomic characteristics (such as low education and poverty), different U.S. geographical areas (such as rural areas, areas hard hit by the opioid epidemic, and areas where life expectancy is low), and the older contingent workforce. BSR sought the help of CNSTAT to review the state-of-the-art science on this subject, including alternative study designs, innovative methodologies for data collection, and innovative statistical techniques for analysis.

For additional information, email Georgeanne Patmios or call 301-496-3136.

NIH INCLUDE Project Clinical Trials in Down Syndrome for Co-occurring Conditions across the Lifespan - Virtual Workshop - May 7-8, 2020

As part of the trans-NIH INCLUDE (INvestigation of Co-occurring conditions across the Lifespan to Understand Down syndromE) Project, NIA led the planning and management of the May 7th and 8th virtual workshop on Clinical Trials in Down Syndrome for Co-occurring Conditions across the Lifespan. The workshop, co-sponsored by NIA and the NIH Office of the Director, addresses one of the three components of the INCLUDE Project, which aims to include individuals with Down syndrome (DS) in existing clinical trials. The workshop reviewed what is known and highlighted the research gaps in current interventions and clinical trials to address co-occurring conditions in individuals with DS, from childhood (sleep apnea, cardiopulmonary conditions, ADHD, speech and language processing) to older adulthood (type-2 diabetes, Alzheimer’s disease, etc.).

For more information, email Laurie Ryan.

Retrotransposable Elements in Aging and Longevity: The Mechanisms – >Virtual Meeting – May 12-13, 2020

Aging is a process involving many changes on chromatin, including epigenetic modification and structural modulation of chromosomes. Research in the past decade have shown the activation of retrotransposable elements during aging in several model systems. Recently, some publications suggest a potentially very interesting mechanism linking the activation of retrotransposable elements to the pathogenesis of aging and aging diseases, with a possible connection to senescence-associated secretory phenotype (SASP) and immune response. This workshop will evaluate this area, with a focus on the molecular mechanisms looking to other pathways important for aging and longevity. The goals of this workshop were to evaluate the status of the field, to define future directions, to evaluate critical needs, and to outline opportunities for the basic research in this area supported by NIA. The workshop was conducted as a virtual meeting.

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

NASEM Committee on Population Spring Seminar on “Persistent and Large Racial/Ethnic Health Disparities: Beyond the Role of SES” – Washington, DC – May 18, 2020

NASEM organized a meeting on persistent and large racial/ethnic health disparities beyond the role of socioeconomic status. The National Advisory Council on Aging Review of the NIA Division of Behavioral and Social Research notes “the shocking extent of growing SES and regional differences in mortality and life expectancy, as well as persistent racial inequalities, have been documented, and increasing understanding of the sources and approaches to ameliorating these needs to be a major research focus going forward.” To address these disparities, the review committee encouraged research to move past documenting differences to identifying mechanisms operating throughout the life course that create or prevent disparities. The review encouraged deeper examination of macro-social trends, including growing income inequality, discrimination, and immigration. This meeting of experts reviewed the state-of-the-art science on this subject, including sessions on life-course stress and discrimination, intergenerational mobility, and immigration, intended to advance research in these areas.

For additional information, email Dr. Frank Bandiera.

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Future Meetings

NASEM Board on Behavioral, Cognitive, and Sensory Sciences Spring Seminar on “Affective and Motivational Targets for Intervention in the Context of Behavior Change – Washington, DC – June 16, 2020

NASEM will organize a meeting, supported by NIA via a task order, on affective and motivational targets for intervention. The goal of this meeting is to examine what work has been done or would need to be done to demonstrate how individual-level affective and motivational processes explain individual variability in the adoption and maintenance of health behaviors (including physical activity), how these processes may differ across the life course, and how knowledge of affective and motivational targets (i.e., processes we can manipulate) and mechanisms may inform translational research and the development of prevention and intervention approaches to optimize health behaviors over the life course.

For additional information, email Dr. Lisbeth Nielsen, 301-496-3136.

The Fourteenth Annual Division of Aging Biology New Investigators Forum (DABNIF) – Bethesda, MD – June 29-30, 2020

The purpose of the forum is to bring together new awardees (i.e. Principal Investigators who are new to funding by DAB) in the spring/summer of the year following their award to meet and interact with NIA program staff, as well as to allow participants to network with each other. To accommodate the large number of participants, each new PI will present a poster describing the planned research (or results to date). In addition to a keynote speaker, sessions will include short “elevator speech” presentations by new awardees, as well as presentations by DAB staff and NIA leadership on topics such as the scope of the science supported by DAB, funding mechanisms, grant review issues, and other related topics. The format will also provide a significantly expanded opportunity for networking among the investigators and plenty of opportunities for interactions with NIA staff. The overriding goal of the meeting is to encourage continued success for the new PIs, as well as encourage interactions and collaborations. The format of this forum has been adjusted to reflect the 2019 forum participants’ evaluation.

For additional information, contact Dr. Manuel Moro, 301-480-1796.

The 25th Annual NIA/IRP Scientific Retreat – Baltimore, MD – July 20-21, 2020

The two-day, NIA-sponsored event will be hosted as a virtual meeting. It will feature two large poster sessions, brief talks from IRP scientists, and a keynote address TBD.

For additional information, Email Sarah Lewis or call 667-205-2604.

The 2nd annual National Institute on Drug Abuse (NIDA)/National Institute on Aging (NIA) Special Lecture Series – Biomedical Research Center (BRC) Atrium – August 27, 2020

The invited speaker, Dr. Linda Fried, Dean of Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, will present her concept, which explains how a Third Demographic Dividend could be created if there is an investment in building health and opportunities for longer lives.

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

Towards interventions for healthy aging: Closing the translational gap – Biomedical Research Center (BRC) – September 15, 2020

Hosted by NIA, several speakers will present their research 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 healthspan during aging.

For additional information, email Dr. Madhav Thambisetty or call 410-558-8572 or email Sarah Lewis or call 667-205-2604.

Joint Meeting of the ADRC and IDDRC – Bethesda, MD – September 18, 2020

NIA will host the joint meeting of the NIA-supported Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centers (ADRCs) and the NICHD-supported Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities Research Centers (IDDRCs) on September 18, 2020. The NIA-sponsored meeting will be at the Natcher Conference Center in Bethesda, MD. The overarching purpose of this workshop is to convene leaders of the ADRCs and IDDRCs to discuss assessment of cognition and other measures related to Alzheimer's disease in people with Down syndrome. Specifically, this meeting will bring together Directors and Administrators from those academic sites where there is an overlap between the two Centers to discuss coordination of outreach and clinical visits for individuals with Down syndrome, to improve and increase research to better understand Alzheimer's disease pathology in adults with Down syndrome.

For more information, email Laurie Ryan.

Expanding the Therapeutic Modalities for AD/ADRD – Bethesda, MD - September 21-22, 2020

The NIA AD/ADRD Translational Branch is planning to sponsor a two-day workshop to be held September 21-22, titled “Expanding the Therapeutic Modalities for AD/ADRD.” While the workshop is scheduled to be held at the NIH campus in Building 49 (Room 1A51/1A59), there is also flexibility for it to be completely virtual. The goal of the workshop is to explore therapeutic modality expansions to advance next-generation therapeutic targets for AD/ADRD. There is a wealth of new disease-relevant candidate targets delivered by AMP AD and affiliated consortia, but a significant portion of these promising new targets are not readily druggable by small molecules. The workshop will bring together representatives from the NIH, FDA, academia, and industry to discuss various modalities, including gene replacement/addition, editing, and silencing, as well as cell therapy and other modalities. Questions to explore will be related to the science and clinical significance, along with the various technical and regulatory challenges.

For more information, email Zane Martin.

Understanding the Impact of the Exposome on the Risk of AD/ADRD to Advance Disease Prevention – Bethesda, MD – September 29-30, 2020

On September 29 and 30, the NIA Division of Neuroscience will host a meeting, titled “Understanding the Impact of the Exposome on the Risk of AD/ADRD to Advance Disease Prevention” on the NIH main campus in Bethesda, Maryland. The purpose of this meeting is to convene academic researchers with expertise in various aspects of AD research and environmental sciences with cross-disciplinary expertise in epidemiology, data science, and mechanistic and clinical research to evaluate the current evidence on the role of the exposome (chemical, physical, lifestyle, psychosocial, and socioeconomic environments) in the mechanisms of AD risk and resilience. In addition, the aims of this NIA-sponsored meeting are to: 1) identify research opportunities for developing methods to quantify the impact of the exposome, 2) gain deep mechanistic understanding of how genes and the environment interacts within diverse populations and lead to disparate health outcomes, and iii) develop a life-course approach to AD prevention.

For more information, email Dr. Suzana Petanceska.

Symposium on “Nonhuman Primates as a Model for Aging” at the 43rd meeting of the American Society of Primatologists – Denver, CO – September 2020

The purpose of this symposium at the American Society of Primatology annual meeting in Denver, CO, September 24-27, 2020 is to highlight recent advances in the use of certain nonhuman primates in aging research at a national meeting. The speakers have been asked to give a 30-minute presentation on their recent research findings, with an emphasis on how their research relates to the area of human aging. The symposium will be chaired by DAB program staff.

For additional information, contact Dr. Manuel Moro, 301-480-1796.

Alzheimer’s Biomarkers Consortium – Down Syndrome (ABC-DS) Investigators Meeting – Bethesda, MD – October 29-30, 2020

The NIA-sponsored Alzheimer’s Biomarkers Consortium – Down Syndrome (ABC-DS) Investigators meeting will be held on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland. The goal of this meeting is for the investigators of the two consortia, Alzheimer’s Disease in Down Syndrome (ADDS) and Neurodegeneration in Aging Down Syndrome (NiAD), to discuss efforts to harmonize and analyze study data. Portions of the meeting will also focus on start-up efforts –discussing recruitment plans, working with a centralized IRB and others – as it relates to the proposed U19 ABC-DS application.

For more information, email Laurie Ryan.

When does Aging Begin? GSA Preconference workshop – Philadelphia, PA – November 4, 2020

In research on the biology of aging, and in geroscience, we are often concerned with questions such as: When is aging detectable? Is there a point of no return in aging? Is it possible to slow the rate of aging? This workshop will address a different, but related, question: “When does aging begin?” The objectives are to air hypotheses about the start and origins of aging in the life course and to discuss how these hypotheses might be tested experimentally. There are multiple theories on the underlying causes of aging. These include (oxidative) damage accumulation, antagonistic pleiotropy, disposable soma, (neuro)endocrine control of the pace of aging, mutation accumulation, rate of living, and replicative senescence. Some of these might be advanced if we knew when aging begins. Investigators from within and outside the field of aging biology will make brief presentations on their hypotheses and then challenge each other’s proposals through a guided panel discussion. One or more theories on when aging begins, with concepts about experimental support, might emerge from these discussions. As with any theory of aging, the outcomes might suggest new areas of research.

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

The 31st Annual Nathan W. Shock Award Lecture – November 17, 2020

The Award was created in 1991 to honor Dr. Nathan Shock, the Father of American Gerontology, and was organized in an effort to increase collaborations within the aging research field. The 2020 honorees will be 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.

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

Biology underlying moving and thinking – Baltimore, MD – December 1, 2020

The NIA will host a one-day symposium at the Biomedical Research Center (BRC). Several speakers will present their research on the tipping point of cognitive and physical decline, address the issues with tools, and provide and share information. The workshop will create a connection between the IRP and ERP and will bring collaborators together to generate research papers and enhance collaborative efforts.

For additional information, email Dr. Theresa Tian or call 410-558-8232 or email Sarah Lewish or call 667-205-2604.

Symposium on “Targeting Cancer in the Aging” at NCI’s Cancer-Aging Interest Group (CAIG) – Date TBD, Postponed due to COVID-19

NCI’s Cancer-Aging Interest Group (CAIG) will organize a symposium on Cancer and Senescence in the Elderly in Bethesda, MD. NIA has been involved in the activities of the CAIG. DAB will participate and organize a session in the symposium. The purpose of this symposium is to increase the awareness of this understudied area and identify gaps in knowledge and future directions of research as it relates to geriatric oncology. The objectives are to 1) identify the molecular mechanisms of aging as a major risk factor in cancer biology; 2) discuss cancer prevention in the elderly, presenting potential trade-offs between cancer and other diseases; and (3) evaluate treatment criteria and tolerability in the elderly.

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

National Research Summit on Care, Services, and Supports for Persons with Dementia and Their Caregivers – Bethesda, MD – Date TBD, Postponed due to COVID-19

This research summit will bring together individuals with a variety of backgrounds to identify evidence-based programs, strategies, approaches, and other research that can be used to improve the care, services, and supports of persons with dementia and their caregivers. This summit will differ from other AD summits in that it is focused on research to improve the quality of care and outcomes, including the lived experience, across care settings for persons with dementia and their caregivers (rather than focusing on biomedical research or pharmacological interventions to address AD). The Summit will include a focus on non-pharmacological or “care” interventions that may improve outcomes for persons with dementia and their caregivers. It is expected that this summit will produce recommendations for research priorities that will inform federal entities, including HHS and the NIH, public and private foundations, industry, researchers, and other organizations.

For additional information, email Elena Fazio or call 301-496-3136.

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Content, Media, Outreach, and Meetings


Print Publications (Booklets, Fact Sheets, etc.):

  • Sierra F. Geroscience and the Role of Aging in the Etiology and Management of Alzheimer's Disease. J Prev Alzheimers Dis. 2020;7(1):2-3. PMID: 32010917.Editorial: Geroscience and the Role of Aging in the Etiology and Management of Alzheimer's Disease.
  • Cómo cuidar a una persona con la enfermedad de Alzheimer: Una guía fácil de usar (Spanish Caring guide) (Updated, accessible 508 PDF posted)
  • Taking Care of Your Teeth and Mouth (Updated, accessible 508 PDF posted)
  • Shots for Safety (Updated, added information on COVID-19 vaccine development, accessible 508 PDF posted)

Web Content



Blog Posts:


Press Releases and Research Highlights

NIA posted and distributed the following press releases:

NIA posted the following featured research:

Social Media

E-Mail / E-Alerts

  • NIA OCPL merged its fitness and coach tips listservs to increase engagement and to more clearly brand these as NIH NIA’s versus the now-sunsetted Go4Life campaign.
  • Sent more than 90 emails from 1/1/2020 – 4/24/2020 to the following email lists:
    • NIA Exercise and Physical Activity Tips: 30,316 subscribers
    • Healthy Aging Highlights: 33,789 subscribers
    • Alzheimer’s News & Announcements: 24,155 subscribers
    • Alzheimer’s Recruitment Resources: 1,983 subscribers
    • Alzheimer’s Clinical Trials: 16,745 subscribers
    • NIA for Caregivers: 14,179 subscribers
    • Inside NIA Blog: 18,437 subscribers
    • NIA Funding Opportunities: 10,925 subscribers

Meetings and Exhibits

Meetings with Professional Organizations

  • AARP, January 2020 – Dr. Marie Bernard and senior NIA staff met with AARP leadership to discuss ongoing efforts to address health disparities in low- and middle- income countries and explore potential opportunities to amplify this work.
  • Sleep Research Society, February 2020 – Drs. Richard Hodes and Marie Bernard, along with senior NIA staff, met with leadership from the Sleep Research Society. Topics discussed included ongoing and emerging sleep research projects supported by NIA as well as possible areas of collaboration.
  • UsAgainstAlzheimer’s, February 2020 – Drs. Richard Hodes and Marie Bernard, along with NIA staff, met with representatives from UsAgainstAlzheimer’s. Meeting participants discussed joint interests around Alzheimer’s disease drug targets and the Accelerating Medicines Partnership Alzheimer's Disease (AMP AD) program.
  • AARP, February 2020 – Drs. Richard Hodes, Marie Bernard, and senior NIA staff met with AARP leadership to discuss the state of geroscience, barriers to geroscience research, and NIA geroscience initiatives, including the Translational Geroscience Network.
  • Lewy Body Dementia (LBD) Association, March 2020 – Drs. Richard Hodes, Marie Bernard, and senior NINDS and NIA staff participated in a virtual meeting with representatives from the Lewy Body Dementia Association. During the meeting, participants discussed LBD research supported by both institutes and key LBD research needs.
  • National Academies of Sciences, Engineering, and Medicine (NASEM) Care Interventions for Individuals with Dementia and their Caregivers Workshop, April 2020 – Drs. Richard Hodes, Marie Bernard, and NIA staff participated in a virtual workshop hosted by NASEM. The purpose of the workshop was to provide a briefing on the draft AHRQ/EPC systematic review on care interventions for individuals with dementia and their caregivers commissioned by NIA, collect reactions to the draft AHRQ/EPC systematic review from a wide range of stakeholders, explore the current state of evidence, and discuss which care interventions for individuals with dementia and their caregivers may be considered ready for dissemination and implementation on a broad scale. During the workshop, participants also discussed emerging data on care interventions that did not meet the evidentiary standard of the systematic review and data expected from studies underway that were not published in time for inclusion in the systematic review, and explored gaps and areas for future research.

Exhibits and Conferences

  • The American Society on Aging conference was cancelled due to COVID-19; NIA had planned to exhibit at this conference

(For more information about NIA’s content, media, outreach, or conferences or exhibits, contact Cindy McConnell, Director, OCPL, 301-435-0024. For more information about NIA’s professional meetings, contact Dr. Melinda Kelley, Legislative Officer, 301-451-8835.)

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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: the NIA Grants & Funding webpage and the NIA & NIH Funding Policies webpage (please look for ‘Recent Changes in NIH Policy’ on this web link).

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