• March 29, 2013

    On September 10–11, 2012, the National Institute on Aging (NIA) Division of Behavioral and Social Research (BSR) convened a diverse team of experts to launch its Network on Reversibility. The purpose of the Network is to define the scope of future research initiatives and to marshal a trans-disciplinary approach in the development of such programs. The members of the Network will combine their expertise to develop new ideas on how to test the hypothesis that harmful effects of early environmental adversity can be reversed in adulthood.

    A report is now available under BSR Workshop Reports section.


  • March 28, 2013

    The Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative, a landmark study in the early detection of Alzheimer’s, is seeking volunteers for two new studies.

    For the first study, researchers are recruiting people 65 to 90 years old with a “significant memory concern” but no signs of memory loss or other cognitive impairment. The volunteers will help scientists define the biological markers and structural brain changes of Alzheimer’s, which can appear years before symptoms become evident.

    Volunteers must have no significant problems with cognitive function or the ability to perform everyday activities. They will undergo neurological testing and brain imaging.

    The study is being conducted at 54 sites in the United States and five in Canada. For specific eligibility criteria, contact information for each study site, and other details, visit the Alzheimer’s Disease Education and Referral Center’s clinical trials page, or call 1-800-438-4380.

    Another new ADNI study will examine the possible connections between traumatic brain injury, post traumatic stress disorder, and signs of Alzheimer’s disease in Vietnam War veterans as they age. Researchers will examine the results of brain scans and cognitive tests as well as changes in cerebrospinal fluid over time. The study is the first step toward a larger, more comprehensive study of dementia risk factors in veterans.

    A Study of Brain Aging in Vietnam War Veterans (DOD-ADNI) will take place at ADNI sites nationwide. The University of California, San Francisco, has begun recruiting, and other sites will begin this spring. For more information, contact Jacqueline Hayes of the San Francisco Veterans Administration office at, or call 1-415-221-4810, extension 4593.

  • March 25, 2013

    The Administration for Community Living (ACL) and the National Institute on Aging (NIA) were thrilled to receive the coveted HHSinnovates Program’s People’s Choice Award for the Connecting to Combat Alzheimer’s initiative. 23,000 people participated in public voting to select Connecting to Combat Alzheimer’s from among the six initiatives that made it to the final round.

    The announcement was made on March 19th by Health and Human Services Secretary (HHS) Kathleen Sebelius at an HHSinnovates Program awards ceremony. HHSinnovates was created as part of the HHS Open Government efforts to celebrate innovation by its employees.

    NIH and ACL team with HHS
    NIH/ACL team with HHS Secretary Sebelius, Assistant Secretary for Aging Kathy Greenlee and Deputy Secretary Bill Corr. L to R: Kate Gordon and Amy Wiatr-Rodriguez (ACL), Vicky Cahan and Jennifer Watson (NIA), Greenlee, Sebelius, Corr, Charlene Liggins and Karen Pocinki (NIA), David Burton (ADEAR Center), Lawrence Tabak (NIH).

    Connecting to Combat Alzheimer’s brings together ACL aging services agencies, which annually reach over 10 million older people and family caregivers with NIA-funded Alzheimer’s Disease Centers (ADCs) that conduct research. With the National Alzheimer’s Plan as a spark, ACL and NIA collaborated across disciplines and learned about each other’s work. Activities have included free webinars and presentations for both the research and aging services communities.

    As Secretary Sebelius said, “These projects are dazzling examples of creativity at its finest. This is one of the most exciting things that goes on here in HHS.”

    Thank you to everyone who participated in voting! We look forward to furthering our efforts to improve research participation awareness and help people affected by Alzheimer's disease.

  • March 19, 2013

    Please join leading neuroscientists, physicians, and other experts to discuss research on Alzheimer’s disease-related dementias at the National Institutes of Health campus on May 1-2. The meeting will help set research priorities for these serious brain disorders.

    Organized by the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke in collaboration with the National Institute on Aging (NIA), the workshop, Alzheimer’s Disease-Related Dementias: Research Challenges and Opportunities, will solicit input and develop recommendations for research for Alzheimer’s-related dementias, including:

    • frontotemporal disorders
    • Lewy body dementia
    • vascular dementia
    • mixed dementia, a combination of two or more types of dementia

    The workshop is convened under the 2012 National Plan to Address Alzheimer’s Disease and complements NIA’s May 2012 Alzheimer’s Disease Research Summit 2012: Path to Treatment and Prevention.

    The workshop will be held at Natcher Auditorium, NIH Campus, Bethesda, MD. To learn more about the conference and to register online, visit

  • February 26, 2013

    Connecting to Combat Alzheimer’s,” a collaborative effort of NIA and the Administration on Community Living (ACL), is competing to win the People’s Choice Award of HHSinnovates, which recognizes creative thinking at HHS toward improving the health and well-being of the Nation. The unique partnership of ACL and NIA is one of six finalists selected by HHS staff to vie for the public’s vote for this coveted Award.

    Please take a moment to review the finalists, including Connecting to Combat Alzheimer’s, and vote now. Public voting closes March 8, 2013.

    The HHS Secretary's Innovation Awards were established to recognize and reward the extraordinary achievements by members of the HHS community in the promotion of better health. The People’s Choice Award is an opportunity for the public to vote on the project they find to be the most innovative and impactful. Secretary Sebelius will present her top picks and announce the People’s Choice Award winner at a ceremony on March 19.

    Voting is open to all members of the public, including people affected by Alzheimer’s and caregivers, researchers and grantees, medical and social services providers, as well as their family members, neighbors and friends.

    Please consider reposting/sharing this with others to highlight the importance of Alzheimer’s research and supportive services collaborations.

    View the finalists and vote by March 8 at!

  • March 5, 2013

    NIA-supported researchers combined images of the brains of older people with Alzheimer’s or at risk for the disease with their genetic data to find a previously unknown link between the gene for butyrlcholinesterase (BCHE) and beta-amyloid deposition in the brain. Beta-amyloid is the major constituent of plaques, a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. In addition to BCHE, the study showed that apolipoprotein-E (APOE), a known genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s, was also associated with the level of amyloid found in the brain. These findings offer new insights into Alzheimer’s disease pathways and promising targets for therapies that may delay, prevent, or treat the disease.

    Scientists at the Indiana University School of Medicine, Indianapolis, led a national team of researchers conducting the genome-wide association study that studied thousands of genetic variants to test whether any could be associated with plaque deposits. Amyloid plaques are of interest in Alzheimer’s research because they build up in the brains of people with the disorder and may play a role in disease onset and progress.

    The researchers imaged the brains of 555 volunteers using positron emission topography (PET) scans with florbetapir, a specialized tracer that binds to amyloid in the brain. When the imaging data were combined with the DNA analysis, the researchers found that volunteers with the BCHE gene had greater amounts of amyloid. Of note, the BCHE gene codes for an enzyme that breaks down acetylcholine, an important neurotransmitter that is known to be lost in the early stages of the disease.

    The effect of BCHE was independent of the APOE gene variant. However, volunteers with both gene variants had more amyloid deposition than those with a single suspect gene. The volunteers are part of the NIA-supported Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI), the largest public-private partnership to date in Alzheimer’s research. ADNI’s goal is to find neuroimaging and other biological markers that can detect disease progression and measure the effectiveness of potential therapies.

    Reference: Ramanan VK, et al. APOE and BCHE as modulators of cerebral amyloid deposition: a florbetapir PET genome-wide association study. Molecular Psychiatry. Published online, Feb. 19, 2013. doi: 10.1038/mp.2013.19.

  • January 31, 2013

    Richard Suzman

    Dr. Richard Suzman, director of NIA’s Division of Behavioral and Social Research, has been named a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), an honor bestowed upon AAAS members by their peers. Dr. Suzman joins 701 other members who were named Fellows this year because of their scientifically or socially distinguished efforts to advance science or its applications. The Fellows were announced in the November 30, 2012 issue of Science.

    Dr. Suzman was cited for “developing the demography and economics of aging, particularly the landmark Health and Retirement Study of cohorts from age 50 to death, now replicated internationally.” Established in 1992, the HRS follows a nationally representative sample of more than 26,000 people over age 50, collecting data every 2 years, from pre-retirement to advanced age. The study provides data about these older Americans to help address the challenges and opportunities associated with population aging in the United States. The study’s unique combination of data allows for better understanding of the nature of health and well-being in later life.

  • January 31, 2013

    Workshop on Research Gaps and Opportunities for Exploring the Relationship of the Arts to Health and Well-Being in Older Adults, Washington, DC – September 14, 2012

    The National Endowment for the Arts, the NIH, and the National Academy of Sciences co-hosted a public workshop that explored the benefit of the arts to the health and well-being of older adults. The gathering featured leading neuroscientists, psychologists, researchers, and practitioners in health and the arts who presented findings from research on the arts and aging in an effort to pinpoint gaps for future studies. (Contact: Dr. Lis Nielsen, 301-402-4156)

    The 10th Annual Nathan W. Shock Symposium, Baltimore, MD – September 28, 2012

    NIA offered the 10th annual Nathan W. Shock Symposium with the topic “Proteins at the Dance, with and without Chaperones,” featuring talks by:

    • Dr. Richard Morimoto, Center for Genetic Medicine, Northwestern University
    • Dr. John Trojanowski, The Mahoney Institute of Neurological Sciences, University of Pennsylvania
    • Dr. Giovanna Mallucci, Department of Cell Physiology and Pharmacology, University of Leicester
    • Dr. Andrew Dillin, Salk Institute for Biological Studies, University of California, Berkeley

    This special event, held at the Johns Hopkins Bayview Campus, was cosponsored by NIA and the Nathan W. and Margaret T. Shock Aging Research Foundation. (Contact: Taya Dunn, 410-558-8035)

    Stress Measurement Workgroup Meeting, CA – September 24-25, 2012

    Better approaches to measure and resolve inconsistencies in stress are needed in health-related epidemiological research. This exploratory meeting brought together experts to develop a conceptual framework that could be used to harmonize psychosocial stress measures used in population-based survey research. Data analyses from longitudinal studies of aging and health were presented, highlighting areas of harmonization potential and need. (Contact: Dr. Lis Nielsen, 301-402-4156)

    National Academy of Sciences Committee on National Statistics Expert Meeting on the Health and Retirement Study, Washington, DC – November 19, 2012

    The steady-state design of the Health and Retirement Study (HRS) calls for adding a new 6-year birth cohort every six years to maintain a nationally representative sample of older Americans. The HRS will add the late Baby Boom cohort (1960-1965) in 2016, followed by the 1966-1970 birth cohort in 2022. This exploratory meeting at the National Academy of Sciences gathered a panel of experts, including some members of the HRS staff, to discuss the most innovative and cost-effective approaches for screening and interviewing HRS cohorts to ensure the study’s ongoing success. (Contact: Dr. John Phillips, 301-496-3138.)

    Measurement Improvement in Alzheimer’s Disease, Baltimore, MD – December 3, 2012

    The NIA’s Division of Neuroscience partnered with the Foundation for NIH (FNIH) in a day-long exploratory meeting to begin a dialogue within the Alzheimer’s disease research community and with physicians on key issues in developing practice guidelines to improve quality performance patient outcome measures, including measures to assess treatment impact and disease status. (Contacts: Dr. Molly Wagster or Dr. Nina Silverberg, 301-496-9350).

  • January 24, 2013

    Reubin Andres

    Dr. Reubin Andres, an early leader in the field of aging research and the first clinical director of NIA, died on September 23, 2012. “I was saddened to hear the news of Dr. Andres’s passing. His legacy will most certainly be his dedication and vision in research on aging. Dr. Reubin was a true pioneer, a valued mentor and colleague and a marvelous human being,” said NIA Director Dr. Richard J. Hodes.

    Dr. Andres joined the Gerontology Research Center (the precursor to NIA) in 1962, where he was assistant chief and head of the GRC’s metabolism section. He was later named the first clinical director of NIA, serving in this position from 1977 until 1998.

    Dr. Andres was named an NIH scientist emeritus at the time of his retirement in 2003. He was cited for his productive research career that included the invention of the glucose insulin clamp technique, a method that remains the gold standard in the study of glucose and insulin homeostasis in man; his original and fundamental observations on the hormonal abnormalities in diabetes mellitus; and his recognition that mortality follows a U-shaped curve as a function of body mass index with the minimal mortality/maximal longevity associated with higher body mass index than prior work suggested.

    Among his many achievements, Dr. Andres played a critical role in the development of the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, now in its 54th year. “With the passing of Dr. Andres, we’ve lost a great man and an extraordinarily talented and generous scientist. I’m sure that his name will continue to inspire generations of researchers in aging for years to come,” said NIA Scientific Director Dr. Luigi Ferrucci.

  • January 31, 2013

    Luigi Ferrucci lecture

    “Of Uncertainty and Hope, a Lesson from My Patients” was the title of the Joseph T. Freeman Lecture delivered by Dr. Luigi Ferrucci at the Gerontological Society of America (GSA) meeting in November 2012. The annual Freeman lecture in geriatrics is presented by the previous year’s winner of the Joseph T. Freeman Award, which GSA gives to a prominent physician in the field of aging—both in research and practice—who is a member of the Society's Health Sciences section.

    Dr. Jack Guralnik, former chief of NIA’s Laboratory of Epidemiology, Demography, and Biometry, introduced Dr. Ferrucci, noting his work as principal investigator of the InChianti project in Italy, director of the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging, editor of the Journal of Gerontology, and, most recently, scientific director of the NIA.

    In his lecture, Dr. Ferrucci described the “interconnectedness” of geriatrics. He noted that changes associated with aging—such as body composition, imbalance in energy production and utilization, homeostatic dysregulation, and neurodegeneration—can lead to geriatric syndromes of physical and cognitive frailty, resulting in a number of health problems ranging from falls and disability to sleep disorders and cognitive impairment. He concluded, “A geriatrician needs to be a fantastic doctor and then realize that this is not enough.”