Announcements

  • April 27, 2017

    An international team of researchers, including scientists from NIA’s Intramural Research Program, have identified an important new genetic variant that increases risk for two autoimmune diseases: multiple sclerosis (MS) and systemic lupus erythematosus (lupus). The results were reported in the New England Journal of Medicine on April 27, 2017. The study was led by Dr. Francesco Cucca, director of the Institute of Genetic and Biomedical Research of the Italian National Research Council.

    MS and lupus are autoimmune diseases caused when a person’s immune system attacks their own normal tissues: the myelin coating of nerves is targeted in MS, while the skin, kidneys, and other organs are affected in lupus. While scientists have long suspected a genetic predisposition to risk for autoimmune disorders, this study is the first to identify a specific genetic variation that is associated with the two diseases.

    The researchers first performed a full genetic sequencing of more than 3,000 people with MS or lupus and a similar number of unaffected individuals in the Mediterranean island of Sardinia. Extensive characterization of the immune system was also performed on this group. The process was repeated in almost 22,000 case and control individuals from mainland Italy, Spain, the United Kingdom, and Sweden, reproducing the original results.

    The research team found a correlation between a particular variant of the TNFSF13B gene and the development of the autoimmune diseases. The TNFSF13B gene produces the protein BAFF, the B-cell activating factor, which is needed for survival and growth of B cells, the cells in the body’s the immune system that protect against infections. The researchers found that while normal BAFF production is strongly suppressed by cellular factors, BAFF production driven by the genetic variant is not affected by these same factors. The resulting increase in BAFF leads to correspondingly higher numbers of B cells, elevated antibody production, and increased risk of autoimmunity.

    The researchers note that the findings validate BAFF as a possible drug target for MS, lupus, and possibly other autoimmune disorders. The identification of this variant at the population, cellular, and molecular levels also illustrates a new association of a TNFSF13B variant with autoimmunity. This discovery may help to optimize individual therapy for these diseases and aid in the development of new therapies.

    Reference: Overexpression of the cytokine BAFF and autoimmunity risk. Steri, M., et al. The New England Journal of Medicine, April 27, 2017.  

  • April 11, 2017

    As we age, we all face more health conditions and treatments. To ensure they are getting good health care, it’s important for older adults to communicate effectively with their doctors and healthcare professionals.  Help older adults make the most of their doctor’s appointments and communicate effectively with their healthcare providers with NIA’s Talking With Your Doctor Presentation Toolkit. Along with handouts, a slide presentation, and other speaker materials, this easy-to-use presentation, suitable for small or large community groups, features a new 20-minute video that explains everything older adults need to know to prepare for a visit and discuss issues with their doctor.

    Watch the new presentation video here:

    Click here to download the Presentation Toolkit. 

  • April 10, 2017

    Aging and Immunity Symposium
    May 10-11, 2017
    Rockville, MD

    This two-day symposium is co-sponsored by the National Institute on Aging and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. There is no charge to attend this meeting, but you must pre-register. Go to this site for more information and to register.

    The symposium will feature an international faculty who will discuss such issues as

    • Aging of stem cells, precursor immune cells and tissue
    • Epigenetic regulation of aging immune cells
    • Aging and metabolism
    • Infectious diseases and vaccines in the elderly
    • Inflammatory and autoimmune disorders in the elderly
    • Longitudinal studies of aging
    • Aging and cancer
    • Interventions to reverse the aging immune system 
  • April 6, 2017

    The National Institute on Aging “Nutritional Interventions to Promote Healthy Aging” workshop explores research needs and opportunities for research relating to possible human intervention studies on different nutritional interventions that might extend longevity and/or health span. The primary focus of the workshop will be on human studies, but it will also consider needs for laboratory animal studies that could inform the design of human studies on this topic.

    Two principal topics addressed are a) implications for further studies based on results from the CALERIE trial of caloric restriction in humans and other recent human weight loss studies, and b) potential human intervention studies of alternative dietary regimens (e.g., amino acid restriction, intermittent fasting, modified macronutrient intake and/or nutrient sources, circadian timing of food intake) which have been shown to affect aging-related outcomes in laboratory animals and/or short-term human studies.

    Find out more or register now.

  • April 4, 2017

    Why does the chance of getting cancer increase as we age? A long-standing hypothesis, supported by compelling evidence in the past several decades, implicates the accumulation over time of damage to cells, organelles, and biomolecules as an underlying cause of aging. This accumulated biomolecular damage, particularly that affecting DNA, along with cells’ declining ability to repair DNA as a person ages, may also lead to cancer, according to the theory.

    Now, a new NIA-funded study in mice and tissue-cultured cells suggests a new and plausible explanation of why the ability of cells to repair DNA declines with age. Researchers led by Dr. Jun Li in Dr. David Sinclair’s lab at Harvard Medical School reported that decreasing levels of nicotinamide adenine dinucleotide (NAD+), an essential cofactor that regulates key signaling pathways and declines with age, may affect cellular DNA repair. The findings of this study were published in Science on March 24, 2017.

    The researchers investigated whether NAD+ levels can affect DNA repair through poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase 1 (PARP1). Both PARP1 and NAD+ bind to the same domain of another protein, DBC1 (Deleted in Breast Cancer 1), and compete with each other for the binding site on the DBC1 protein. The direct binding of NAD+ prevents DBC1 from forming an inhibitory complex with the DNA-repair protein PARP1. Thus, as NAD+ levels decrease with age, more DBC1 protein is left to bind to PARP1, leading to less free PARP1 to repair damaged DNA.

    The researchers also found that NAD+ regulates the interaction of DBC1 and PARP1 through a non-enzymatic function, which is different from most other functions of NAD+. One advantage of this function is that it allows a cell to adapt to fluctuations in NAD+ levels without consuming it. This is particularly important when NAD+ is scarce, which occurs under conditions of genotoxic stress. The study results also suggest that interventions aimed at improving NAD+ levels may help protect against cancer and DNA damage caused by radiation or chemotherapy, or slow some aspects of aging.

    Reference: Li, J., et al. A conserved NAD+ binding pocket that regulates protein-protein interactions during aging. Science. 2017 Mar 24;355(6331):1312-1317. doi: 10.1126/science.aad8242.

  • March 31, 2017

    The National Institute on Aging (NIA) and the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) along with our organizing committee are planning a meeting on “Aging of the Immune System” that will take place near the NIH campus in Rockville, MD on May 10-11th, 2017.

    This will be the 4th meeting organized on immunosenescence by our committee.  The web site includes information on the agenda, poster session and abstract submission dates (March 31), hotel reservations, and other pertinent information. Please note that there is still space available for the poster session and abstracts are due on March 31 if you would like to present your research. Abstract submission is not required to attend the meeting and as registration is filling quickly, please register online.

  • February 22, 2017

    The Brown University Center for Gerontology and Healthcare Research is pleased to announce that new data are available for download on LTCFocus.org! This update provides data through 2015 and links data over time from CMS sources to individual LTC facilities. Please visit LTCFocus.org to download the data or for more information. Also be sure to check out their updated Research Findings section, which references recent articles that have used the LTCFocus data, as well as other research by the Center for Gerontology team

  • February 22, 2017

    The Population Refernce Bureau (PRB) is a non-profit organization that informs people around the world about population, health, and the environment, and empowers them to use that information to advance the well-being of current and future generations. It publishes an e-newsletter series entitled, "Today's Research on Aging," which is intended to increase awareness of research results relevant to aging and their application to major public and private decision-making. Previous topics have included longevity research, family caregiving, elderly immigrants in the U.S., and more! Please visit the e-newsletter home page for recent and archived issues, and to subscribe to the newsletter.

  • February 13, 2017

    Get up to speed on the latest in Alzheimer’s and dementia, and learn what you need to know to inform, educate, and empower community members, people with dementia, and family caregivers.

    Presented by the National Institute on Aging (NIA/NIH), the Administration for Community Living (ACL), and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC).

    Free continuing education credit is available (CNE, CEU, and CECH)!

    Webinar 1: Alzheimer's and Dementia Resources You Can Use

    Wednesday, March 1, 2017

    1:00-2:30pm Eastern Time/Noon-1:30 Central Time/11:00am-12:30pm Mountain Time/10:00-11:30am Pacific Time

    To register: go to nih.webex.com, enter event # 628 629 619

    You can also view via videocast at https://videocast.nih.gov/

    Presentation slides

    Join us for an update on Alzheimer's and dementia issues and resources, including:

    • What's new with consumer, caregiver, and professional resources on dementia
    • Helpful resources on areas of special interest:
      • Veterans and their caregivers
      • Financial exploitation
      • Depression & dementia
    • How the federal government is implementing the National Alzheimer’s Plan, including the overall direction of the plan and its 2017 changes

    Presenters:

    • Tanya Friese, DNP, RN, CNL USN (Ret.), Assistant Professor, College of Nursing and Educational Coordinator, Road Home Program, Rush University Medical Center
    • Peter Lichtenberg, PhD, Director, Institute of Gerontology and Professor of Psychology, Wayne State University
    • Lisa McGuire, PhD, Lead, Alzheimer’s Disease and Healthy Aging Program, CDC
    • Mark Snowden, MD, MPH, Associate Professor, Department of Psychiatry and Behavioral Sciences, University of Washington
    • Amy Wiatr-Rodriguez, MSW, Aging Services Program Specialist, ACL
  • January 30, 2017

    The NIA Division of Behavioral and Social Research is pleased to announce the addition of three excellent new members of the professional staff who have started work in recent weeks.

    Elena Fazio, PhD, Health Scientist Administrator, will be working primarily on projects supporting the goals of the National Alzheimers Plan of Action, including serving as program officer for grants related to long-term supports and services for the elderly. Elena was previously a Social Science Analyst for the US Administration for Community Living, where she had a wide variety of responsibilities related to programs, evaluation, and data collection on aging and disability. Among her many accomplishments there, she led a redesign of the National Survey of Older Americans Act Participants and managed improvements in data collection and reporting for ACL’s State Program Reports. Elena has planned workshops, written issue briefs, and led task forces on a wide range of topics relevant to NIA, including the workforce for community care, chronic disease self-management, end-of-life care, and LGBT health. Before joining ACL, she was staff director for the Federal Interagency Forum on Aging-related Statistics, of which NIA is a founding member. As a post-doctoral fellow at the University of Maryland, she was project director for the NIA-funded Aging, Stress and Health program, for which the late Leonard Perlin was PI. Elena’s PhD in Sociology was awarded by the University of Maryland (with a dissertation on “Role Occupancies, Physical Health and the Diminishment of the Self-Concept in Later Life”), and she has BA’s in Psychology and in Human Services from Villanova University. Her published research deals with stress, mental and physical health, and health disparities.

    Amelia Karraker, PhD, Health Scientist Administrator, will be managing a portfolio in demography and social epidemiology of aging. She comes to us from Iowa State University, where she was an Assistant Professor, Human Development and Family Studies. Prior to that, she was an NIA Postdoctoral Fellow at the Population Studies Center, University of Michigan. Her research has drawn on many of the major NIA-funded data resources, including the Health and Retirement Study, the Panel Study of Income Dynamics, the Wisconsin Longitudinal Study, and the National Social Life Health and Aging Project. Her own research interests include intergenerational support, marriage and financial security of the elderly, and psychosocial factors and health across the life course, and she has published in leading journals and given award-winning presentations to the major societies. Her PhD in Sociology was awarded by the University of Wisconsin-Madison, where she was an NIA pre-doctoral trainee, and her BA with honors by the University of Chicago. Amelia is a past participant in both the RAND Summer Institute and the Butler-Williams Scholars program.

    Dana Plude, PhD, Deputy Director of NIA/BSR, previously held senior positions in the NIH Center for Scientific Review , most recently as Deputy Director of the Division of Receipt and Referral. He has had a key role in areas of science central to NIA’s mission, for example, serving as Acting Director of the Division of AIDS, Behavioral and Population Sciences and as Chief of the Biobehavioral and Behavioral Processes Integrated Review Group. Before joining NIH, Dana was Associate Professor of Developmental Psychology at the University of Maryland, College Park, and Associate Chair and Director of Graduate Studies for the Department of Psychology, where he won several teaching awards. He also has private-sector experience as an SBIR grantee, having served as vice president for gerontological research for Compact Disc Inc. Dana’s PhD in Psychology was awarded by Syracuse University, and he had an individual NIA post-doc fellowship at the Boston VA outpatient clinic. His own research interests are in aging, selective attention, and memory, the role of attention in moderating age decrements in memory, and cognitive rehabilitation in aging. He has served as a reviewer for NIA, NIMH, and CSR, and has played an active role in professional societies.

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