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September 2018 Director's Status Report

Click on the links below to view sections of the September 2018 Director's Status Report:

Budget and Appropriations

Status of FY 2018 Budget:

FY 2018

The President signed into law the Consolidated Appropriations Act 2018 on March 23, 2018 to keep the government operating through September 2018. The enacted bill provides NIA $2.574 billion, a $526 million increase over the FY 2017 level. This amount included an additional $414 million for Alzheimer's Disease research funding.

FY 2019

The President's Budget request for FY 2019 was presented to Congress in April 2018 and includes $1.988 billion for NIA, a $586 million decrease from the FY 2018 enacted level.

On August 23, 2018 the Senate passed the Department of Defense and Labor, Health and Human Services, and Education Appropriations Act, 2019. This bill includes $3.08 Billion for NIA. This includes an additional $425 million for Alzheimer's Disease and related dementias research. Both chambers have now passed the bill and are currently conferencing to address other differences between the House and Senate versions before it can be signed into law.

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Legislative Update

September 2018

Legislation of Interest:

On May 24, 2018, Senator Roger Wicker (R-MS) introduced S. 2956, the Patients First Act of 2018. The bill, if enacted, would require the HHS Secretary to prioritize stem cell research with the greatest potential for near-term clinical benefit in human patients and would prohibit the creation of a human embryo for research purposes or the destruction of or discarding of, or risk of injury to, a living human embryo. It would also require the HHS Secretary, in consultation with the NIH Director, to issue final guidelines implementing this provision within 90 days of enactment. S. 2956 was referred to the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions.

On June 12, 2018, the House passed by voice vote, H.R. 5002, the Advancing Cutting Edge (ACE) Research Act. The bill, if enacted, would provide other transactions authority to the NIH Director for "high-impact cutting edge research that fosters scientific creativity and increases fundamental biological understanding leading to prevention, diagnosis, and treatment of diseases and disorders, or research urgently required to respond to a public health threat."

On June 27, 2018, the Energy and Commerce Committee Health Subcommittee voted to advance H.R. 1676, the Palliative Care and Hospice Education and Training Act, as amended. Of interest to NIH, the amended bill requires NIH to develop and implement a Trans-NIH strategy to expand and intensify national research programs in palliative care in order to address the quality of care and quality of life for patients with serious or life-threatening illnesses. Specifically mentioned illnesses include: cancer; heart, kidney, liver, lung, and infectious diseases; as well as neurodegenerative diseases such as dementia, Parkinson's disease, or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The bill also requires NIH to include information about research on palliative care in the NIH Triennial Report.

Hearings, Visits, and Other topics of interest:

On August 23, 2018, the Senate HELP committee held a hearing titled, "Prioritizing Cures: Science and Stewardship at the National Institutes of Health." NIH Director Francis Collins testified accompanied by NIAID Director Anthony Fauci, NIA Director Richard Hodes, NCI Director Ned Sharpless, NICHD Director Diana Bianchi.

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

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Staff Changes

Dr. Sanoj K. Suneja has been appointed Deputy Director, Division of Extramural Activities. Dr. Suneja has been Acting Deputy Director, DEA since January 2017, also serving as NIA's Health Science and Data Specialist, responsible for Council Activities, Extramural Research Grants Referrals, New and Early Stage Investigator Policies & Targets and responsible for NIH/NIA Funding Meetings & Policies. Dr. Suneja received his Ph.D. degree in Biochemistry from Haryana Agricultural University, India before doing Post-Doctoral and Research Investigator trainings at University of Connecticut Health Center, Farmington, CT. He has scientific expertise in Biochemical Toxicology, Auditory Neuroscience & Plasticity, and now in all Aging related research grants as the NIA's Primary Referral Liaison.

The Division of Extramural Activities welcomes Rene Etcheberrigaray, M.D. from CSR, where he served as Deputy Director and previously as Director, Division of Neurosciences, Development and Aging. Dr. Etcheberrigaray joins DEA as Senior Advisor to the Director DEA and brings highly valued management skills and a strong depth of knowledge and commitment to NIH peer review. Dr. Etcheberrigaray obtained his M.D. from the University of Chile in 1987. He then came to NIH as a Fogarty International Center postdoctoral fellow, studying ion channel physiology and molecular neurobiology in an NINDS intramural lab. He continued there as a visiting associate and then a visiting scientist. Etcheberrigaray later moved to Georgetown University, where he started a laboratory that focused on potential therapeutic targets for Alzheimer's disease and the role of calcium regulation and amyloid processing in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's. Before returning to NIH, Dr. Etcheberrigaray was the lab director and senior scientist at a biotechnology company in Rockville.

The Division of Extramural Activities (DEA) welcomes Shahrooz Vahedi, Ph.D. as NIA's Training Officer. As a member of both NIA's Fellowship Funding and BRAIN initiative committees, he manages, enhances, and evaluates all training and career development awards at NIA, which include Institutional NRSA T32, T35, and Individual F30, F31, and F32 Fellowship Training programs, as well as all K career development funding mechanisms. He is also the first point of contact for Loan Repayment Program (LRP) application, review, funding, and tracking at NIA. Shahrooz actively participates at NIA's Diversity Supplement committee and is a member of NIH 's Diversity Supplement Point of Contact committee, where he represents NIA to coordinate the conception, planning, implementation and evaluation of trans-NIH activities and initiatives to improve diversity in health-related research workforce. Before joining NIA, Dr. Vahedi was a Research Scientist at National Cancer Institute where he was studying the role P-glycoprotein in developing multidrug resistance

Kimberly Kramer has been a STEM-track Presidential Management Fellow in the Division of Extramural Activities for the last two years. We are pleased to announce that she has come aboard as a permanent full-time employee. Kim serves as NIA's Guide Liaison, working with staff at the NIA and the NIH Guide to develop and facilitate the publication of funding opportunity announcements. She also assists the Division in web editing and analysis of grant application performance. She is currently working with program staff to facilitate the conversion to a new system, Funding Opportunity Announcement Module (FOAM).

We are very pleased to welcome back to NIA/BSR Dr. John W.R. Phillips as Chief of the Population and Social Processes Branch. For the past two years Dr. Phillips served as Associate Commissioner for Research, Evaluation, and Statistics at the Social Security Administration.

Dr. Jeannette Johnson is retiring as Deputy Chief of the Scientific Review Branch (SRB). Dr. Johnson has been leading the NIA-N Committee for the last ten years and during the last year she has seen the career development award applications increase exponentially. In order to achieve review of this larger set in a judicious manner, she has successfully managed to bring in new reviewers with diversified backgrounds with varying expertise; Dr. Johnson has a knack for picking well qualified, hard-working employees. In addition, to hiring a well-qualified team, she's been organizing second stage review for P01s and developed many standardized forms for expediency. Dr. Johnson has a ten-year history of providing excellent service to the Scientific Review Branch and to the field of scientific peer review, the NIA couldn't be prouder of her dedication. Early on in her career in scientific review she worked with other Scientific Review Officers from across NIH to build and develop core competencies for Scientific Review Officers. In addition to maintaining her role as the Deputy Chief, she has also carried a full load of reviews and has been responsible for reviewing more applications in the SRB than any other Scientific Review Officer. She conducts her work with integrity and responsibility, has received numerous kudos from several council members, peer reviewers, and her colleagues at NIH. Even in her final days at NIA, she continued to provide stellar customer service in training new colleagues and projecting an air of calm, in a sea of applications as the new NIA review officer began to manage the new workload. We wish her the best in her retirement, and she will truly be missed!

Amanda DiBattista, Ph.D., is the newest Health Scientist Administrator (Program Officer) in the Neurobiology of Aging Branch in the Division of Neuroscience at NIA. Since joining the Division of Neuroscience as a Research Program Analyst in 2017, Dr. DiBattista led several projects on data analytics supporting initiatives across NIA and NIH. She serves as the QVR Ambassador for NIA, acting as the liaison with the NIH Office of Extramural Research for data reporting. Dr. DiBattista also built tools using data science to potentially identify NIH funding gaps and facilitate assignment of incoming grant applications. Dr. DiBattista earned her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from Georgetown University in 2016. Her dissertation research was supported in part by an NIH predoctoral fellowship (F31) and focused on understanding how the APOE4 gene increases the risk for Alzheimer's disease using molecular, cellular and behavioral approaches. Prior to coming to the NIA, she worked at an editorial services company researching and matching academic editors and reviewers with manuscripts submitted to the peer-reviewed journal PLOS ONE.

Cerise Elliott, Ph.D. was recently appointed as a Program Officer for the Dementias of Aging Branch of the Division of Neuroscience (DN). She has been a member of the DN staff since January 2008 and was most recent a Senior Research Program Analyst involved in analysis and evaluation of grants systems, and in supporting programmatic activities. She previously held positions at the NIH in the Office of Intramural Research and the Office of Extramural Research for the Office of the Director from 2004 to 2008 where she was the liaison with non-profit organizations, patient advocacy groups, drug industry and individuals to effectively and creatively disseminate NIH policies and programs to stakeholders. Dr. Elliott received her B.S. in Chemistry from Creighton University in Omaha, NE and her Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Nebraska Medical Center also in Omaha, NE. Her scientific research focused on cell apoptosis controlled by peripheral T cells in multiple sclerosis. Her recent programmatic interests are creating new and effective scientific collaborations, facilitating successful mentoring relationships among grantees and providing effective evaluation of program development. Her portfolio includes AD Health Disparities, Research Recruitment and Retention and administrating the AD Center program.

Dr. Henriette van Praag, Investigator in the Laboratory of Neurosciences, accepted a position at the Florida International University in Miami, FL in June 2018. Dr. van Praag received her Ph.D. from the Tel-Aviv University in Israel in 1992. She started at the National Institute on Aging (NIA) in 2007 after serving as Research Associate and later a Staff Scientist in the Laboratory of Genetics at the Salk Institute in La Jolla, CA.

Matthew Sutterer, Ph.D., has joined the Division of Neuroscience as a Health Specialist in the Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience of Aging Branch. Dr. Sutterer received his Ph.D. in Neuroscience from the University of Iowa under Dr. Daniel Tranel. His dissertation focused on changes in brain networks related to emotion and decision-making behavior following brain damage (e.g., stroke) or surgical intervention (e.g., tumor resection, epilepsy surgery). He then joined the laboratory of Dr. Michelle Voss at University of Iowa as a postdoctoral fellow where he conducted research in cognitive neuroscience of healthy aging with a focus on plasticity of brain networks and connectivity. This past year, Dr. Sutterer was selected as a AAAS Science and Technology policy fellow and worked at the National Institute of Justice in the U.S. Department of Justice.

Dr. David Schlessinger retired from the NIA in April 2018 after six decades as a scientist, twenty of those years at the NIH. Dr. Schlessinger received his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from Harvard University in 1960. After that, he served in various capacities at the Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, MO, including Professor of Microbiology, Professor of Genetics, and Director of the RIKEN – Washington University Exchange Program. In 1997, Dr. Schlessinger became a Senior Investigator and the Chief of the Laboratory of Genetics at the NIA. He later stepped down from this role but remained Chief of the Human Genetics Section of the newly formed Laboratory of Genetics and Genomics. Dr. Schlessinger was named a NIH Distinguished Investigator in 2011 as a result of his exceptional achievements. Upon his retirement in April, Dr. Schlessinger was granted Scientist Emeritus status in order to continue his research. Perhaps one of Dr. Schlessinger's most notable scientific contributions is the SardiNIA project, which is a study of the genetic and epidemiological factors associated with age-related traits and diseases in the Sardinian founder population. This study has been referred to as the "gem" of the NIA's Intramural Research Program.

Dr. Tamara Harris retired in June 2018 after having served 27 years at the NIA. She received her M.D. in 1978 from the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, Bronx, NY, and her M.S. in Epidemiology in 1985 from the Harvard School of Public Health, Boston, MA. Shortly after, Dr. Harris joined the Centers for Disease Control at the National Center for Health Statistics as a Medical Service Fellow and was later promoted to Medical Officer (Research). In 1991, Dr. Harris transferred to the NIA as a Medical Officer (Research) under the Commissioned Corps, U.S. Public Health Service, in the Laboratory of Epidemiology, Demography, and Biometry, now the Laboratory of Epidemiology and Population Sciences (LEPS). She retired from the Corps with the rank of Captain in 2008 and was converted to a Title 38 Medical Officer (Research)/Senior Investigator in LEPS, where she remained until her retirement from the federal government in June. During her tenure, Dr. Harris served as Acting Laboratory co-Chief of LEPS (2012-2018). Following her retirement, she was appointed as a Special Volunteer within LEPS.

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Institute-Sponsored Meetings, Workshops, and Conferences

  1. Past Meetings

2018 NIH Alzheimer's Disease Research Summit - March 1 and May 24, 2018, Bethesda, MD.

The 2018 NIH Alzheimer's Disease Research Summit Part I was held on March 1, 2018, and Part II on May 24, 2018. Sponsored by the NIA and supported by the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health, the Summit was attended in-person by more than 400 people and remotely through live videocast by more than 3,500 people. More than 90 speakers presented data from NIH-funded research, and Dr. Francis Collins and Dr. Richard Hodes provided remarks. The Summit goal was to highlight the progress, to date, towards achieving the AD research implementation milestones set from the 2012 and the 2015 AD Summits. In addition, the discussions included an integrated multidisciplinary research agenda that would enable precision medicine for Alzheimer's disease. This Summit resulted in the development of new and refinement of existing Recommendations. These recommendations were also used in updating the AD/ADRD Research Implementation Milestones Database. For more information, contact Laurie Ryan or Suzana Petanceska.

Behavioral Economics and the Promotion of Health Among Aging Populations – NAS Keck Bldg., Washington, DC – June 4-5, 2018

This workshop explored the potential for extending research on interventions based on behavioral economics principles into older populations, with a focus on the development and testing of interventions that will generate longer-term benefits as well as improving our mechanistic understanding of interventions and how they are sensitive to aging. The workshop also explored ideas about what modifications might be required to make interventions "work" in middle-aged or older adults and continue to work over longer periods of time. For additional information contact Dr. Jonathan W. King.

GSIG SEMINAR, Dr. Scott Budinger's – June 6, 2018, Bethesda, MD

GR Scott Budinger is the Chief of Pulmonary and Critical Care in the Department of Medicine at Northwestern University, Feinberg School of Medicine and is the Ernest S Bazley Professor of Airway Diseases as well as a Professor of Medicine (Pulmonary and Critical Care) and Cell and Molecular Biology. He presented a seminar on aging lung as part of an ongoing series organized quarterly by the GeroScience Interest Group (GSIG). The GSIG was formed to enhance opportunities for discussion of the intersection between the biology of aging and the biology of disease and conditions that are of interest across NIH institutes and centers. It is focused on the intersection between the basic biology of aging and the biology of diseases and conditions of aging, but with a longer view towards translation.
(Contact(s): Dr. Ronald Kohanski, DAB, 301/496-6402)

Spring Meeting of the NAS Board on Behavioral, Cognitive and Sensory Sciences - NAS Keck Bldg., Washington, DC – June 7-8, 2018

This regular meeting of the board on Behavioral, Cognitive and Sensory Sciences included a half-day seminar on a topic selected by NIA/BSR: "Indirect Social Influences in Midlife and Older Age." For additional information contact Dr. Melissa Gerald.

NIA Workshop: Paradoxical Lucidity in Late-Stage Dementia – June 18-19, 2018, Bethesda, MD

Patients with late-stage dementia have been reported to exhibit unexpected episodes of relevant verbal communication. These episodes, referred to here as Paradoxical Lucidity (PL), are characterized by spontaneous meaningful communication in patients who are assumed to have lost coherent verbal capacity. PL may point to preservation of neural structures and functions that, if better understood, may lead to greater insights into the pathophysiology of Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. The goals of the workshop were to discuss the current state of knowledge about PL and to identify important research questions that may lead to greater understanding of PL and its implications for treatment of patients with Alzheimer's disease and related dementias. Workshop participants included investigators with expertise from several relevant research areas including dementia, geriatrics, cognitive assessment, neurophysiology, systems neuroscience, computational linguistics, caregiver research, and palliative and end-of-life care. Program staff from NIA, NINR, and other NIH IC's, were in attendance. NIA DGCG Contact: Basil Eldadah.

AGE-RELATED CHANGES IN OSTEOIMMUNOLOGY – June 21, 2018, Bethesda, MD

The role of the immune system in regulating bone differentiation and homeostasis, and how this tissue cross talk is affected by aging has been of interest to DAB and NIA. A decline in immune function with aging has been known for decades and many alterations in the function of both the adaptive and innate immune systems have been documented. The knowledge that immune cells are mobilized from bone marrow led to the demonstration that different types of immune cells interact with both osteoblasts and osteoclasts, and that these interactions can modulate bone homeostasis.

Five pilot awards ($125,000 Direct Cost/year) were issued by NIA in 2013 to examine the regulation of a variety of pathways involved in this aspect of integrative biology. The Division of Aging Biology held a workshop on June 21, 2018 in Bethesda, MD to discuss recent progress in our understanding of the role of aging in osteoimmunology. The five previously funded investigators presented their findings from aged animals. In addition, several other investigators working in the field were invited to discuss recent developments in the field. Discussion of gaps as well as newly identified opportunities in our understanding of the interactions between immune cells and bone will be addressed.

(Contact: Dr. Rebecca Fuldner, DAB, 301/402-7748, and Dr. John Williams, DAB, 301/496-6403)

Using Longitudinal Studies of Younger Cohorts for Aging Research – NAS Keck Bldg., Washington, DC – June 25-26, 2018

Demographic, economic, and institutional changes from across the life course may have important consequences for the forces that shape inequalities in later life between and among cohorts. At this meeting experts considered crucial issues in the use of longitudinal studies of younger cohorts, highlighting important directions for future research that are expected to have major influence on research on aging. For additional information contact Dr. Amelia Karraker.

Spring Meeting of the NAS Committee on Population – June 27-28, 2018, Washington, DC

This regular meeting of the Committee on Population included a half-day seminar on a topic selected by NIA/BSR: "Leveraging Existing Data for the Study of Consequences of Disasters for Older Adults."
For additional information contact Georgeanne Patmios.

Leveraging Rarely-Investigated Populations for Research on Behavioral and Social Processes in an Aging Context – NAS Keck Bldg. – July 2-3, 2018, Washington, DC

This meeting examined the potential value of examining individual variation and normative, age-related changes in behavioral, affective, cognitive, and social processes and the unique contributions that can be made in studies that are pursued in non-Western or small-scale societies. Discussions included poverty or resource scarcity and uncertainty; social/cultural norms and practices; and how these affect decision-making, emotional function, and social connectedness and health. For additional information contact Dr. Dana Plude.

Twelfth Annual Division of Aging Biology New Investigators Forum (DAB NIF) – July 9-10, 2018, Bethesda, MD

The purpose of the forum was to bring together new awardees (Principal Investigators who are new to funding by DAB) in the spring/summer of the year following their award, in order to allow NIA program staff to get acquainted with new PIs as well as to allow participants to network with each other. Following last year's success, the forum opened to a broad group of new investigators, including R01 and R56 recipients. To accommodate the large number of participants, each new PI presented a poster describing the planned research (or results to date). In addition to a keynote speaker, sessions included short "dating-style" presentations by grantees, as well as presentations by DAB staff and NIA leadership, on issues such as scope of the science supported by DAB, funding mechanisms, review issues and other related topics. The format also provided a significantly expanded opportunity for networking among the investigators and plenty of opportunities for interactions with NIA staff. The overriding goal of the meeting was to encourage continued success for the new PIs as well as encourage interactions and collaborations. (Contact(s): Dr. Manuel Moro, DAB, 301/480-1796)

Lipid Signaling in Stress and Aging –July 11, 2018, Bethesda, MD

The purpose of the workshop was to assess the current and emerging knowledge of lipid signaling in stress and during aging while discussing evolving technologies that could advance our understanding of these processes.

Lipids are hydrophobic small molecules that can function as hormones, intermediate signaling molecules, structural elements in biological membranes, and vehicles for energy storage. Disruption in either storage lipids (triglycerides) or circulating lipid-protein complexes (lipoprotein particles) has been associated with age-related conditions such as obesity and diabetes. Recently, molecular mechanisms linking lipids to lifespan have been explored. For example, lipidomics studies in human hint at an association between lipid composition and long life where higher ratios of monounsaturated (MUFA) to polyunsaturated (PUFA) fatty acids appear to favor longevity. Interestingly, a similar trend for higher MUFA: PUFA ratios is found in long-lived animals in model systems. Additional studies have revealed a critical role of fatty acid desaturases in controlling the level of MUFAs, supporting a link between fatty acid metabolism and aging. Although these studies suggest a pro-aging role of PUFAs, specific PUFAs such as ω-6 PUFAs have been found to activate autophagy and promote survival under nutrient deprivation. Consistently, increased expression of certain lipases that produce free fatty acids results in extended lifespan.

Lipid metabolism produces lipid signaling molecules. Current evidence suggests that lipid signaling pathways can modulate lifespan. For example, high levels of the lipid oleoylethanolamide (OEA) can extend lifespan in the worm by interacting with specific transcription factors. To deliver OEA to target tissues and organs, a lipid binding protein LBP-8 has been identified. Taken together, emerging evidence points to an important role of lipid metabolism and lipid signaling in influencing the process of aging. However, several central questions remain.

A workshop was proposed to address the following topics:

  1. How are lipid signaling pathways altered during aging and physiological stress and what are the mechanisms?
  2. How do epigenetic mechanisms control lipid signaling during aging?
  3. How does lipid signaling contribute to different modes of longevity interventions, e.g. genetic vs environmental interventions?

(Contact: Dr. Yih-Woei Fridell, DAB, 301/496-7847, and Dr. Jose Velazquez, DAB, 301/496-6428)

NEURAL PROCESSES OF AFFECTIVE CHANGE IN AGING – August 2-3, 2018, Bethesda, MD

The NIA Division of Neuroscience and the Division of Behavioral and Social Research co-sponsored a workshop entitled "Neural Processes of Affective Change in Aging" on August 2-3, 2018 in Bethesda MD. The two-day workshop included 14 experts in affective and cognitive neuroscience who reviewed the current state of research in affective neuroscience and suggested future directions that might be facilitated by emerging theories and approaches from allied fields. The workshop proceedings and suggested next steps are being summarized in a report that is currently under development. For more information, contact Luci Roberts.

The Role of Sleep Deficiency and Sleep Disorders in Aging, Cognition and Neurodegeneration Workshop - August 20-21, 2018, Bethesda, MD

The NIA Division of Neuroscience, in conjunction with NHLBI and other ICs, co-hosted a workshop on "The Role of Sleep Deficiency and Sleep Disorders in Aging, Cognition and Neurodegeneration". This workshop showcased recent basic and clinical research advances to identify state-of-the-science, identify the gaps at the nexus of these fields, and highlight the collaborative opportunities needed to advance our understanding of the mechanisms linking sleep/circadian science and mild cognitive impairment associated with the risk of Alzheimer's disease. The participants included representatives from academia, industry and government. Recent research advances, gaps and opportunities identified will be outlined in in a report to be published. This report is currently under development. For more information, contact Miroslaw (Mack) Mackiewicz.

Optogenetics Investigators Meeting - August 23-24, 2018, Bethesda MD

The Optogenetics Investigators Meeting took place on August 23-24, 2018 in Bethesda, MD. This annual meeting provides a forum for investigators funded under RFA-AG-14-002 (Optogenetic Tools for the Study of Neural Systems in Aging and Alzheimer's Disease) to update attendees on their research progress, share ideas and troubleshoot problems, engage in face-to-face discussions and forge collaborations. Meeting attendees included the funded RFA investigators, a number of trainees supported by the program, and NIA staff, both extramural and intramural. For more information, contact Dr. Coryse St. Hillaire-Clarke.

Contributions of Artificial Intelligence to Research on Determinants and Modulation of Health Span and Life Span – August 29-30, 2018, Bethesda, MD

This workshop investigated the ways that artificial intelligence (AI) methods could contribute to understanding of the determinants of health span and life span. Research on determinants of longevity and health span poses a variety of methodological challenges. Longevity and health span involve a multiplicity of interacting contributory factors. The interactions of such factors also change with advancing age and are influenced by phenotypic changes over the life span. During the workshop, we explored how AI methods could address these complexities. Our interest was both in AI analyses that could be done on existing data, and on needs for new primary data that would allow productive application of AI methods for increased understanding of determinants of longevity and health span. Participants included experts from a variety of AI related fields, including: computer scientists, engineers, bioinformaticians, biologists and geriatricians. NIA DGCG Contact: Nalini Raghavachari

CELLULAR AND MOLECULAR AGING OF THE REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEM (September 10-11, 2018)

The Division of Aging Biology (DAB) held an exploratory workshop to discuss cellular and molecular mechanisms that preserve function in organs of the reproductive system that are critical to ensure healthy aging and prevent oncogenesis. The workshop critically reviewed current understanding of natural aging in the gonads and other reproductive tissues that affect health span and longevity, as well as examined current findings o the cross talk between these cells and their niche as a function of aging. The group provided recommendations to overcome identified potential targeted areas of study including mechanisms and their barriers that challenge the development of therapies to maintain healthy endocrine function and thwart oncogenesis.

The working group identified gaps in current understanding of the molecular and cellular mechanisms that regulate aging in the reproductive organs that facilitate health span and longevity. Metabolic, epigenetic, and circadian mechanisms of somatic and germ cell aging were evaluated with their interactions in the niche that regulate aging. Approaches to prevent, slow progression, or reverse stem cell and somatic cell senescence and negate oncogenesis in these tissues focusing on the ovaries, uterus, testis and prostate were reassessed. (Contact: Dr. Candace Kerr, DAB, 301/827-4474, and Dr. Rebecca Fuldner, DAB, 301/402-7748)

Enhancing the foundations for natural product clinical trials – September 13-14, 2018, Bethesda, MD

Other federal agencies and NIH ICs involved in the workshop include: The Food and Drug Administration, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Cancer Institute, the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, the National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences, and the Office of Research on Women's Health.

The goal of the workshop is to enhance the progression of natural product research from foundational data (e.g., from preclinical and epidemiological research) towards reproducible data for actionable public health decision-making. The workshop brings together a broad range of expertise relevant to natural product clinical trials (NPCT) to discuss and develop recommendations for state-of-the-science rigor in obtaining, reporting, interpreting and assessing foundational data for NPCT, as well as for NPCT decision-making and design.

Workshop presentations will move between broad perspectives on rigorous approaches to experimental design, interpretation, and costs and benefits of different prioritization approaches, and specific, illustrative cases.

We anticipate the publication of the workshop proceedings. NIA DGCG Contact: Giovanna Zappala

  1. Future Meetings

The 29th Annual Nathan W. Shock Award Lecture – September 18, 2018 – Bethesda, MD

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 2018 awardee, Dr. Nathan LeBrasseur, will present a talk and meet with staff.

DECIPHERING THE GLYCOSYLATION CODE IN ALZHEIMER'S DISEASE – September 19-20, 2018, Bethesda MD

The NIA-sponsored glycosylation meeting is scheduled for September 19-20, 2018, to be held at the NIA Gateway office. The meeting will include leaders in the field to evaluate the current status of glycobiology in Alzheimer's Disease (AD) and to determine what areas of research will be needed to move the field of glycoscience in AD. In particular, the focus will be on understanding the importance of glycobiology in the area of biomarker discovery and early AD pathogenesis. For more information, contact Austin Yang, austin.yang@nih.gov.

The NIA and the NIH Comorbidity Scientific Interest Group Workshop are sponsoring a workshop entitled, "Measuring Multimorbidity: Matching the Instrument and the Purpose" – September 25-26, 2018, Bethesda, MD

The workshop is sponsored by the NIA and the NIH Comorbidity Scientific Interest Group and was designed to improve research that studies the role of co- and/or multimorbidity, by helping the field in selection of valid and reliable measurement tools. The purpose of this workshop is to a) identify the best available instruments for measuring co-/multimorbidity, and characterize their validity, reliability, and ease of use, as well as their statistical analysis and interpretation, b) propose a set of recommendations that would facilitate adoption of particular tools and methods for specific purposes (e.g., research vs. practice; observational studies; RCTs; large population-based samples; type of outcome (morbidity, mortality, healthcare utilization, quality of life, costs), and c) identify areas of research needs and gaps to improve measurement of multimorbidity. (NIA DGCG Contact: Marcel Salive)

American Society for Bone and Mineral Research (ASBMR) Working Group on Aging Symposia (September 30, 2018)

Annually there are 12 to 20 Working Groups that meet on the same night 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 topical 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, certain Clinical problems etc. Historically the Working Group on Skeletal Aging has had only modest success but has always been financially strapped. In order to build attendance and improve the quality of the program we hope to get the Working Group a more reliable financial base to operate, both GCG and DAB have contributed some small funds. The NIA funds are used to pay the convention center facility fees and to help offset a speaker's hotel and travel. This year's sponsored speaker is Nathan LeBrasseur from Mayo, Rochester. Typically, we try to have one non-ASBMR speaker to address obvious areas of tissue cross talk of interest to ASBMR attendees. Each year's meeting combines clinical and basic science speakers in order to appeal to a broader spectrum of ASBMR attendees ().

This year, for the first time the Working Group is having a sit-down dinner which is being paid for via funds from the Working Group co-chairs institutions (Khosla at Mayo and Bonewald's Indiana Center for Musculoskeletal Biology). The goal of these working group programs is to raise awareness of NIA research and to present interesting science and generate wide ranging discussions on the topics raised in the presentations, including biomarkers in aging, age-related frailty and muscle dysfunction, and effects of aging on the osteocyte lacunocanalicular network. (Contact Dr. John Williams)

GSIG Seminar (October 24, 2018)

This seminar series is sponsored by the trans-NIH GeroScience Interest Group (GSIG). The GeroScience Interest Group (GSIG) was formed to enhance opportunities for discussion of the intersection between the biology of aging and the biology of disease and conditions that are of interest across ICs. It is focused on basic biology, but with a longer view towards translation. These four seminars will focus on the intersection between aging and diverse aging-related diseases and/or functional loss. Such topics are important to further the goals of the GSIG.
(Contact(s): Dr. Ronald Kohanski, DAB, 301/496-6402)

Specificity of molecular aggregates in AD and related neurodegeneration (November 27, 2018)

Aggregates consisting of amyloid beta (Ab, derived from the APP protein) or hyperphosphorylated Tau are considered the major pathological hallmarks of AD. Similarly, aggregates with different specific molecular identities are hallmarks for several other proteinopathies, and in fact, more than 50 such diseases are listed in Wikipedia. In addition to Ab, and Tau, well characterized proteinopathies affecting neurodegeneration include a-synuclein (Parkinson's), huntingtin (Huntington's), TDP-43 (Frontotemporal dementia) and many more. In addition to neurodegeneration, disease-causing proteinopathies exist in the periphery, examples of which include transthyretin (senile cardiac amyloidosis), amylin (type 2 diabetes), superoxide dismutase (amyotrophic lateral sclerosis,), crystallins (cataracts), cystic fibrosis transmembrane conductance regulator (cystic fibrosis) and many others. Pathology-causing aggregation of these proteins has been described in familial cases of each disease, usually driven by mutations in the protein or its processing that lead to a change in metastable forms of the protein in question. In contrast, sporadic forms of the same diseases also display molecularly similar aggregates, but in the absence of such direct genetic relationships. In these cases, the underlying common etiology appears to be aberrant proteostasis, which results in aggregation of different proteins in different tissues. To explore this possibility, researchers working on varied proteinopathies will be convened, to discuss commonalities and potential collaborations and cross-talks. It is expected that this effort might lead to the development of early markers of potential risk of developing proteinopathies in general, though the specificity of the pathological manifestation will still require measurements in the tissue of interest, including tissues of the central nervous system.
(Contact(s): Dr. Felipe Sierra, DAB, 301/451-4515)

New Animal Models of Alzheimer Disease (November 28, 2018)

The purpose of this workshop is to assess the current status of suitable, animal models of neurodegenerative disease conditions, focusing primarily in Alzheimer disease (AD) and discuss potential, new, emerging and translational models that may not only replicate all pathological features of the human disease but also contribute to the development of novel anti-dementia drugs. AD is the most common cause of dementia, affecting more than 40 million people worldwide. Despite considerable investment and effort, the prevalence is expected to increase dramatically in the coming decades due to an increase in the aging population. Unfortunately, there is no animal model available that can mimic the cognitive, behavioral, biochemical and histopathological abnormalities observed in patients with AD. However, partial reproduction of dementia and AD neuropathologies and cognitive deficits have been achieved with pharmacological and genetic approaches utilizing mice, fish, flies and worms. Most of the animal models used to study AD rely on the use of transgenic mice carrying mutations associated with early onset familial forms of AD, although sporadic cases represent the clear majority. There is a translational gap in AD studies, with promising drugs developed in rodent models failing in AD patients in clinical trials. Further studies are needed to develop and characterize new models from animals with naturally developing aspects of cognitive decline and memory loss that better recapitulate human dementia. The identification, characterization and development of genetic and histological tools of these potential models should permit further advances in the study of aging-related dementias and AD. (Contact(s): Dr. Manuel Moro, DAB, 301/480-1796)

The Epidemiology of Aging Workshop – December 18, 2018 (BRC)

The goal of this workshop is to engage experts in the field to discuss how data already collected from longitudinal studies can be used to maximize the effectiveness of future clinical trials, as well as designing a new generation of epidemiological studies that can be directed to best accomplish this goal. The two primary focuses will be: 1) Investigating age-related biomarkers; and 2) Developing indexes of biological, phenotypic, and functional aging that can be applied to different populations and are sensitive to change, potentially capturing the effect of interventions aimed at slowing down the "rate of aging."

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PUBLICATIONS AND WEB CONTENT

Major Reports:

Booklets, AgePages, Fact Sheets, DVDs:  

  • Biomarkers for Dementia Detection and Diagnosis fact sheet (new)
  • Exercise & Physical Activity: Your Everyday Guide from the NIA (reprint)
  • Lewy Body Dementia: Information for Patients, Families, and Professionals (update/reprint)
  • What's On Your Plate? (reprint)

AgePages:

  • A Good Night's Sleep
  • Getting Your Affairs in Order
  • High Blood Pressure

Web Content

Spanish articles translated and posted:

MEDIA & OUTREACH

Press Releases and Research Highlights

NIA posted and distributed the following press releases:

NIA posted the following featured research:

Social Media

  • @NIAGo4Life Twitter followers now total 8,377, with an additional 15,848 subscribing to a daily e-alert of tweets
  • @Alzheimers_NIH Twitter followers now total 9,307, with 14,474 daily e-alert subscribers
  • NIHAging Facebook has more than 9,126 followers; quarterly peak reach (approximately 7,428 people) on 7/16 for post promoting doctor-patient communication.

E-Mail

Sent a total of 46 emails from 4/1/2018-7/31/2018 to the following NIA GovDelivery email lists:

  • Go4Life Fitness Tips: 81,567 subscribers
  • Healthy Aging Highlights: 76,104 subscribers
  • Alzheimer's News & Announcements: 75,197 subscribers
  • NIA for Caregivers: 15,714 subscribers

MEETINGS AND EXHIBITS

Professional Meetings

  • NIA/VA meeting, June 2018 -- Drs. Richard Hodes, Marie Bernard, and various NIA staff met with VA staff to share programmatic updates. Meeting participants discussed joint interests and initiatives and provided status updates regarding several ongoing projects.
  • NINDS-ADRD stakeholder roundtable meeting, June 2018 -- Drs. Richard Hodes, Marie Bernard, and various NIA staff participated in a large stakeholder meeting hosted by NINDS. Various ADRD groups along with NINDS and NIA staff shared programmatic updates and discussed areas for increased collaboration.
  • Meeting with the Ambassador of Costa Rica to the United States, June 2018 -- Drs. Richard Hodes and Marie Bernard met with the Costa Rican Ambassador, Roman Macaya Hayes, to discuss aging research. During the meeting, Dr. Hodes and the Ambassador discussed research projects in the US and Costa Rica, respectively, and possible areas of collaboration.

Conferences and Exhibits

  • None noted

(For more information about NIA's conferences or exhibits, contact Jennifer Watson, Acting Director, OCPL, Ph. 301-496-1752. For more information about NIA's professional meetings, contact Dr. Melinda Kelley, Legislative Officer, Ph. 301-451-8835.)

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NEW NOTICES AND INITIATIVES RELEVANT TO THE NATIONAL INSTITUTE ON AGING (NIA) For the May 2018 Council Meeting

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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