Announcements

  • December 5, 2016

    Dementia prevalence among Americans age 65 and older decreased significantly between 2000 and 2012, according to a study published in JAMA Internal Medicine on November 21, 2016. Results from the nationally representative Health and Retirement Study (HRS) found that dementia prevalence decreased from 11.6 percent in 2000 to 8.8 percent in 2012, representing a relative decrease of about 24 percent.

    Dr. Kenneth M. Langa of the University of Michigan and colleagues analyzed responses from approximately 10,500 HRS participants aged 65 or older in 2000 and 2012. They found that more years of education were associated with the decline in prevalence, but could not completely explain it. The average number of years of education increased from 11.8 to 12.7 between the cohorts. The decrease is similar to reports from other recent surveys. In this study, the decrease in dementia prevalence was noted for both men and women, despite an increase between 2000 and 2012 in cardiovascular risk factors such as high blood pressure, diabetes, and obesity.

    The authors note that it will be important to continue to monitor the incidence and prevalence of dementia as the number of older adults, who are most at risk, continues to grow in coming decades. The findings from this study suggest rates of dementia can move in a positive direction, but more research will be needed to pinpoint the full set of social, behavioral, and medical factors that directly influence the development of and reduced risk for Alzheimer’s and other dementias.

    The HRS, launched in 1992, is a longitudinal study of people 50 and older funded by the NIA with contributions from the Social Security Administration. It currently follows more than 22,000 individuals, collecting data every two years, from pre-retirement to advanced age. The study consists of extensive interviews with participants, who are asked detailed questions about their health, economic status, social factors, cognitive ability, and life circumstances. The interviews also include a set of physical performance tests, body measurements, blood and saliva samples, and a psychosocial questionnaire.

    Reference: A Comparison of the Prevalence of Dementia in the United States in 2000 and 2012 by Kenneth M. Langa, et al. JAMA Internal Medicine. November 21, 2016.

  • November 28, 2016

    The Office of Communications and Public Liaison (OCPL) at the National Institute on Aging (NIA) seeks to hire a public affairs specialist (13) to serve as a press officer and assist the institute in developing  content and materials to promote research advances.

    Located on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland, NIA OCPL directs a comprehensive communications program to disseminate research findings, support research and funding activities of the Institute, and provide information on health and aging and Alzheimer’s and related dementias to the public, health providers, researchers, advocates, media and others.

    The OCPL Outreach and Education Branch is responsible for developing an effective plan to enhance communication of the NIA’s research portfolio and scientific information to various target audiences, including the media, outside organizations interested in NIA’s mission areas, health care providers, and the public. The branch works closely with scientific staff, researchers, external organizations and members of the media to promote understanding of NIA programs and research.

    The successful candidate for this position must have strong writing, editorial, interpersonal, outreach and project management skills. Prior experience working with the media is essential. The Public Affairs Specialist candidate must be able to translate complex scientific information and concepts into materials, such as press releases, news announcements, and online content, including research reports on Alzheimer’s disease, designed for lay audiences. Familiarity with aging-related issues, particularly Alzheimer’s disease and related dementias and cognitive health is helpful.

  • November 25, 2016

    The Office of Behavioral and Social Sciences Research (OBSSR) at the National Institutes of Health has released a new strategic plan for 2017 through 2021. The plan focuses on scientific priorities, which reflect key research challenges that the OBSSR is uniquely positioned to address. Developed with considerable input from internal and external NIH stakeholders, the plan ensures OBSSR continues to fulfill its mission.  Please visit the website for more details on the new strategic plan.

  • November 17, 2016

    The Office of Communications and Public Liaison (OCPL) at the National Institute on Aging (NIA) seeks to hire two Writer/Editors (11-12-13) to develop and produce content for a variety of audiences in print, digital, and video formats.

    Located on the NIH campus in Bethesda, Maryland, NIA OCPL directs a comprehensive communications program to disseminate research findings, support research and funding activities of the Institute, and provide information on health and aging and Alzheimer’s and related dementias to the public, health providers, researchers, advocates, media and others.

    The OCPL Content Branch applies the principles of writing/editing, health education, social marketing, digital communications, communications research, content management, and media relations to plan, develop, disseminate, and evaluate public information and education programs and materials, video, and social media. The branch works closely with scientists to ensure the development of scrupulously researched and approved content in print and online for lay and/or scientific audiences. Content is produced and disseminated in collaboration with the OCPL Outreach Branch and with contract staff at our two information clearinghouses, the NIA Information Center and Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral (ADEAR) Center.

    The successful candidate for this position must have strong writing, editorial, project management, outreach, and interpersonal communication skills. The Writer/Editor candidate will also demonstrate skills in effective communications, social marketing, and qualitative research to conceptualize, research, write, edit, design, disseminate, promote, and evaluate a wide variety of health information and scientific content for the public, particularly older adults, as well as professionals. The candidate will be able to translate complex research into language and graphics accessible to lay audiences, as well as generate content for scientific and professional audiences.

    Familiarity with writing and editing health information is helpful, as is experience with planning, writing, and producing video, web, and/or social media content.

  • November 15, 2016

    The NIA Division of Geriatrics and Clinical Gerontology (DGCG) is searching for a Health Program Specialist (11-12-13) with a Masters or PhD level degree and experience in clinical and translational research, to provide scientific and logistical support to DGCG scientific staff for the following activities:

    • Development and organization of scientific workshops
    • Administration, coordination and analysis of program activities; planning, organization, coordination, and management of segments of complex activities
    • Planning, implementation, and evaluation of programs and initiatives
    • Conducting literature searches, portfolio analyses, and program analyses
    • Assisting in drafting ad hoc and periodic reports and presentations, and summarizing research findings.
    • Working with program staff to develop Funding Opportunity Announcements, new research initiatives, and exploratory meetings of scientific experts
    • Working with program staff to prepare background materials for proposed program development of new and ongoing research initiatives retreat presentations.
    • Working with program staff to develop background materials and agendas for program-sponsored exploratory and advisory scientific meetings.
    • Providing assistance to principal investigators who have responded to the RFAs and PAs.
    • Analyzing responses to RFAs and Program Announcements by numbers of applications and scientific areas. This includes working with the program leadership to identify areas that need to be addressed in program planning.
    • Analyzing Division portfolio content/portfolio publication productivity
    • Attending and reporting on peer review meetings
    • Attending and reporting on annual scientific meetings and NIH-sponsored workshops that are relevant to DGCG program areas
    • Establishing, monitoring and updating systems for tracking program and research progress
    • Providing technical assistance and guidance concerning Division initiatives and priorities to applicants and grantees
    • Responding to requests from Congress, NIH and NIA directors, NIA divisions, and the public
    • Maintaining and updating content on the Division website

    For additional information about this position, contact Jessica Moreno via email or at 301-402-7719.

  • November 4, 2016

    Older adults with above average memory skills for their age—so-called cognitive "superagers"—have distinct differences in brain networks compared to their cognitively normal peers. NIA-funded researchers identified two brain network regions that remain robust in superagers, and may enable them to perform on memory tests as well as middle-aged people, and even young adults.

    Brain atrophy, characterized by a loss in cortical thickness, is common with aging. Researchers led by Dr. Brad Dickerson at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Boston, explored these brain volume differences in superagers, in part to discover whether cortical thickness in older people could predict memory performance. Their findings were published in the Sept. 14, 2016 issue of the Journal of Neuroscience.

    In the study, 41 young volunteers (mean age mid-20s) and 40 older participants (mean age mid-to-late 60s) underwent memory testing and magnetic resonance imaging (MRIs) to measure brain volume.  Based on the memory tests, researchers identified 17 superagers. Compared to their peers, the superagers showed little to no loss of cortical volume of brain regions within the default mode and salience networks that are important to memory storage, attention, encoding and retrieval.  Notably, in some superagers, these regions were so well preserved that they were indistinguishable from the young volunteers. The researchers also found that the hippocampus—a brain region important to learning and memory—was well preserved in the superagers.

    More research is needed to better understand the factors that may lead to resilience against age-related cognitive decline in people with above average memories as they age. Additional studies could also elucidate whether and how memory and cortical thickness in cognitive superagers change over time.

    Sun, F.W., et al. Youthful Brains in Older Adults: Preserved Neuroanatomy in the Default Mode and Salience Networks Contributes to Youthful Memory in Superaging. Journal of Neuroscience. Sept. 14, 2016. 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.1492-16.2016

    imaging of the brain with areas highlighted in blue, red, and orange.
    Photo credit: Brad Dickerson, MD and Lisa Feldman Barrett, PhD
  • September 23, 2016

    New stem cells in the dentate gyrus section of the hippocampus—the brain structure responsible for memory and learning—grow and integrate with existing cells to make memories stronger and more precise. The new cells compete for space among the intertwined connections of the older neurons; as the brain ages, fewer new cells survive. Researchers led by Amar Sahay, Ph.D., of the Harvard Stem Cell Institute at Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, showed they can manipulate two of the mechanisms involved in this process, boosting the survival of the new neurons in the brains of mice. The findings were published in Neuron on Sept. 1, 2016.

    Supported in part by NIA, the researchers engineered the increase of a protein, Klf9, in older neurons in mice. This increase cleared one-fifth of the spines found on dendrites, a neuron cell structure, and doubled the number of new neurons added to the brain circuitry. When the researchers reversed the process, the old dendritic spines reformed, restoring competition with the new cells in the dentate gyrus. Although the previously integrated neurons remained, no new neurons were added. Similar results occurred when the researchers deleted Rac1, a protein important for dendritic spine growth, in older neurons. In this case, the survival of new neurons increased.

    The findings suggest that manipulating these two proteins may enhance hippocampal cell generation in middle-aged and older mice and may result in stronger and more precise memories. More research is needed, but the Klf9 and Rac1 proteins may present promising targets for therapies to prevent cognitive impairment or age-related memory decline.

    Reference: McAvoy K.M., et al. Modulating neuronal competition dynamics in the dentate gyrus to rejuvenate aging memory circuits. Neuron. Published online Sept. 21, 2016.

    see accompanying text
    Young neurons (pink), responsible for encoding new memories, must compete with mature neurons (green) to survive and integrate into the hippocampal circuit. Photo courtesy of Kathleen McAvoy, Sahay Lab.

  • September 20, 2016

    On Sept. 16, 2016, in an effort to make information about clinical trials widely available to the public, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) issued a final rule specifying requirements for registering and reporting summary results information to ClinicalTrials.gov. The new rule expands the legal requirements for submitting registration and results information for certain clinical trials involving U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA)-regulated drug, biological and device products to ClinicalTrials.gov. At the same time, the National Institutes of Health issued a complementary policy for registering and submitting summary results information to ClinicalTrials.gov for all NIH-funded clinical trials, including those not subject to the final rule. These actions are important steps to honor our commitments to clinical trial participants to share the knowledge gained from their participation in order to achieve the greatest benefit to human health.

    Read the NIH news release along with related materials to learn more about these important developments.

  • September 19, 2016

    The National Institute on Aging (NIA) at NIH is pleased to announce two new additions to its Alzheimer’s Disease Centers Program—a network of researchers and clinicians developing and sharing new approaches and findings to speed discovery in dementia research. The Michigan Alzheimer’s Disease Core Center (ADCC) in Ann Arbor, Michigan and Wake Forest ADCC in Winston Salem, North Carolina—each to receive an estimated $9 million over the next five years—will boost the NIH-funded research network to 31 centers nationwide.

    The Michigan ADCC, led by Henry Paulson, M.D., Ph.D., links three major research universities, encompassing researchers and clinicians from the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, and Wayne State University. The Wake Forest ADCC, led by Suzanne Craft, Ph.D., at Wake Forest Baptist Medical Center, will serve the southeastern U.S.

    Teams of researchers and clinicians at both centers will assess people with memory problems or complaints, as well as those without. They will also recruit volunteers for clinical trials, provide training to scientists and health care professionals, and educate local communities about dementia.

    Each center will also advance understanding of these complex disorders from different scientific perspectives. Scientists at Michigan will study non-amyloid factors contributing to Alzheimer’s and investigate links between dementia and other illnesses such as cerebrovascular disease, diabetes, metabolic disorders, and depression. Researchers at Wake Forest will focus on the role played by vascular and metabolic disorders in the onset and progression of Alzheimer’s, with a particular interest in how diabetes, peripheral vascular disease, and other common disorders affect the transitions from normal aging to mild cognitive impairment and then to Alzheimer’s and related dementias. 

  • September 28, 2016

    SAVE THE DATE – Thursday, October 20, 2016

    The National Institute on Aging (NIA) at the National Institutes of Health is partnering with the Morehouse School of Medicine to convene a regional workshop. This will be an opportunity to discuss NIA’s strategic directions for research on aging, learn more about research and training opportunities, and forge collaborations with investigators in the region who are conducting research on aging.

    Access the full meeting agenda.

    More information about this event.

    Download and print a flyer (PDF, 480K) for the Directors Regional Meeting on Aging Research at the Morehouse School of Medicine.

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