Announcements

  • June 23, 2016

    NIA’s Grants for Early Medical/Surgical Specialists’ Transition to Aging Research (GEMSSTAR) program is now open to dentists and dental specialists interested in starting a research career related to aging. Details about the GEMSSTAR program are available on our website.

    “We know that older people can have particular problems with their teeth, gums and oral health,” said Susan Zieman, M.D., Ph.D., who oversees the program. “This is an excellent opportunity for early career dentists and dental specialists to investigate such issues which impact older adults including oral cancers, problems with salivation and taste, integrity of dental bone support, chronic inflammation caused by gum disease, and other topics.”

    The two-year program is designed to provide research experience and a professional development plan that will help young clinical specialists gain the skills for future research projects and a career as an independent investigator. Contact niagemsstar@mail.nih.gov for more information. The deadline for applications is October 6, 2016.

  • May 18, 2016

    The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the premier health research center for the nation and the world. The 27 Institutes and Centers at NIH employ approximately 18,000 employees in a vast array of jobs, all supporting efforts for a healthy nation. The NIH mission is to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability.

    Located in downtown Bethesda, Maryland, the Division of Extramural Activities (DEA) of the National Institute on Aging manages NIA's grants and training policies and procedures, including oversight of grants and contract administration, scientific review, and committee management functions. It serves as primary liaison for NIA with the NIH Office of Extramural Research and with other Institutes that share research interests.

    DEA plans to hire a Research Program Analyst with at least a Master's Degree with some training and exposure to analytical sciences. Prior experience in any aspect of the development of funding opportunity announcements for publication and in any aspect of analysis of NIH data would be advantageous.    

    Major responsibilities will include:

    • Work with NIH Office of Extramural Programs Staff to submit and coordinate NIA funding opportunity announcements and notices to the NIH Guide
    • Work with NIH program officers and program analysts to advise them on appropriate template forms to use for activity codes, and to help them respond to feedback from Guide staff on particular announcements.
    • Read and edit draft funding opportunity announcements for consistency with templates and provides feedback as appropriate.
    • Operate the Internal NIA software to advance funding opportunity announcements through NIA approval. Monitors the system to ensure no excessive unexplained delays in clearance.
    • Act as a Guide liaison and participates in the NIH Guide liaison group who advises on template updates, staff guidance on templates, and any concerns with software used to process announcements and notices.
    • Work with other DEA staff on preparation of standing reports of application activity – the statistical package for every Council round
    • Assist DEA analytic staff on tracking functions and on special projects requests from the National Advisory Council on Aging, NIA Office of the Director leadership.

    IMPORTANT NOTE: This is a pre-announcement of the vacancy. A formal position announcement will be posted on www.usajobs.gov under two announcements:

    • NIH-NIA-DE-16-1696628 which is opened to all US Citizens; and
    • NIH-NIA-MP-1696632 which is opened to Status Candidates only (Merit promotion and VEOA Eligibles).

    We anticipate this posting will appear on or shortly after May 16, 2016. Please check that website regularly for updated postings, as the positions will be open for only 5-10 days.

    For additional information contact Robin Barr, NIH/NIA/DEA, 301-496-9322; BarrR@nia.nih.gov

  • May 18, 2016

    The National Institutes of Health (NIH) is the premier health research center for the nation and the world.  The 27 Institutes and Centers at NIH employ approximately 18,000 employees in a vast array of jobs, all supporting efforts for a healthy nation.  The NIH mission is to seek fundamental knowledge about the nature and behavior of living systems and the application of that knowledge to enhance health, lengthen life, and reduce illness and disability.

    Located in downtown Bethesda, Maryland, the Division of Neuroscience (DN) fosters and supports extramural and collaborative research and training to further the understanding of neural and behavioral processes associated with the aging brain. DN is composed of three branches: Neurobiology of Aging, Behavioral and Systems Neuroscience, and Dementias of Aging. Overall, the Division supports a broad spectrum of research aimed at elucidating how the central nervous system and behavior are affected by normal as well as pathological aging. A central component of this Division is the support of basic, translational, clinical, and epidemiological studies of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and related dementias of aging.

    DN plans to hire Research Program Analysts with a degree and experience in basic, translational and clinical research, to provide scientific and logistical support, in work areas such as those listed below:

    • 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
    • Reviewing grantee progress reports and evaluating actions required to achieve adequate research progress
    • Conducting literature searches, portfolio analyses, and program analyses
    • Assisting in drafting ad hoc and periodic reports and presentations, and summarizing research findings.

    The successful candidate must be a US citizen, and have solid project management, writing, and communication skills, and familiarity with research in Alzheimer's disease and related dementias of aging.  Responsibilities of this position shall include:

    • Working with senior staff to develop Funding Opportunity Announcements, new research initiatives, and exploratory meetings of scientific experts
    • Attending and reporting on peer review meetings
    • 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

    IMPORTANT NOTE: This is a pre-announcement of the vacancy.  A formal vacancy announcement will be posted on www.usajobs.gov and applications must be submitted through that website to be considered. 

    For additional information contact:
    Dr. Laurie Ryan
    NIH/NIA/DN
    301.496.9350
    Ryanl@mail.nih.gov

  • April 28, 2016

    Previous research has shown that aging affects cognitive ability, and that subtle sex differences in cognition exist across the lifespan. A recent observational study by Dr. Anna C. McCarrey and colleagues in NIA’s Intramural Research Program showed that cognitive ability in some, but not all, domains declines at a steeper rate for men than for women.

    NIA researchers followed participants in the Baltimore Longitudinal Study of Aging up to nine years on average. Participants ranged in age from 50 to 96, and were free of cognitive impairment throughout the course of the study. Participants periodically took memory and other cognitive tests that assessed mental status, visuospatial ability, verbal learning and memory, perceptuomotor speed and integration, and other cognitive skills.

    Initially, men outperformed women on the two tests of visuospatial ability, and women did better than men on several other cognitive tests. Men showed overall steeper rates of cognitive decline in areas of mental status, perceptuomotor speed and integration, and visuospatial ability. None of the measures showed significantly steeper declines for women. This suggests that women have a greater resilience to age-related cognitive decline than do men.

    The researchers note that societal changes may contribute to these sex differences as they have resulted in greater improvements in cognitive stimulation, financial prosperity, and health for women. In addition, sex differences in cognitive aging may be affected by differences in brain structure and function, which tend to show more favorable outcomes for women at advanced ages. Further research is needed to link longitudinal brain changes to cognition in older men and women.

    Reference: Sex Differences in Cognitive Trajectories in Clinically Normal Older Adults. Anna C. McCarrey, Yang An, Melissa H. Kitner-Triolo, Luigi Ferrucci, and Susan M. Resnick. Psychology and Aging. 2016 Apr 13; 31(2):166-175. doi: 10.1037/pag0000070.

     

  • March 18, 2016

    The Division of Behavioral and Social Research congratulates Drs. Anne Case and Angus Deaton on their selection as winners of the Cozzarelli Prize from the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. Case and Deaton's article, "Rising morbidity and mortality in midlife among white non-Hispanic Americans in the 21st century" is one of six papers published in 2015 to earn this distinction.

    The paper reported that deaths among white U.S. men and women aged 45–54 rose significantly between 1999 and 2013, reversing decades of progress in mortality; the change was unique to non-Hispanic whites in the United States. Morbidity rates increased as well, with self-reported declines in health, mental health, and abilities to conduct activities of daily living, accompanied by increases in reports of chronic pain, inability to work, and deterioration of liver function.

    The Cozzarelli Prize acknowledges papers that reflect scientific excellence and originality. The award was established in 2005 and named in 2007 to honor late PNAS Editor-in-Chief Nicholas R. Cozzarelli.

    This year's award winners will be recognized during the PNAS Editorial Board Meeting and the NAS Annual Meeting Awards Ceremony on May 1, 2016, in Washington, DC.

  • February 25, 2016

    When prescribed correctly, antibiotics can be very effective in treating a variety of bacterial infections. However, U.S. clinicians often prescribe antibiotics to patients with non-bacterial infections, particularly those with acute viral respiratory tract infections, a practice that has important repercussions. Not only are antibiotics ineffective against non-bacterial infections, they may also be associated with unpleasant side effects or allergic reactions. And, over-prescription is a significant cause of population-level antibiotic resistance.

    In an NIA-funded randomized clinical trial involving 248 primary care clinicians, Dr. Jason N. Doctor, of the University of Southern California, and his colleagues compared the effectiveness of three different behavioral interventions in an attempt to affect prescribing practices:

    • The accountable justifications intervention prompted clinicians to write justifications for antibiotic prescriptions in the patient’s electronic health record (EHR), following a notification that antibiotics may not be right for the patient. This was associated with an 18.1 percent decrease in inappropriate prescriptions.
    • The peer comparison intervention ranked physicians on the number of inappropriate antibiotic prescriptions they wrote. Those with the highest inappropriate prescribing rates received e-mail messages informing them that they were not “top performers” compared to others in their region who wrote fewer inappropriate prescriptions. The e-mail included the number and proportion of inappropriate antibiotic prescriptions they had written compared to the top performers. This tactic reduced inappropriate antibiotic prescriptions by 16.3 percent.
    • The suggested alternative intervention presented a pop-up message on the EHR indicating that antibiotics may not be right for the patient and suggesting a more appropriate alternative. This was associated with a 5 percent decrease in inappropriate prescriptions.

    Over the 18-month intervention period, the overall number of inappropriate antibiotic prescriptions decreased by 11 percent from baseline. The researchers note that while the study sample was relatively small and depended on the use of EHRs, the use of accountable justification and peer comparison behavioral interventions resulted in meaningfully lower inappropriate prescribing rates and might be useful tools to improve the quality of care by individual clinicians.

    Reference: “Effect of Behavioral Interventions on Inappropriate Antibiotic Prescribing Among Primary Care Practices: A Randomized Clinical Trial” by Daniella Meeker, et al. Journal of the American Medical Association. 2016 Feb 9;315(6):562-70. doi: 10.1001/jama.2016.0275.

  • February 11, 2016

    In the United States, as many as 5.2 million people age 65 and older are estimated to have Alzheimer’s disease, the most common form of dementia, and these numbers are expected to rise with an aging population. However, a new NIH-funded study showed a progressive, decades-long decline in dementia incidence (newly reported cases) among older people in Framingham, Mass., and examined factors that may influence this trend.

    The report appeared online February 10, 2016, in The New England Journal of Medicine. It was conducted by researchers at Boston University School of Medicine and colleagues.

    Researchers following thousands of older volunteers participating in the NIH-funded Framingham Heart Study reported a steady decline in new cases of Alzheimer’s and related dementias over several decades. They tracked the cognitive status of 5,205 volunteers age 60 and older at 5-year intervals during four periods in the 1970s, 1980s, 1990s and 2000s. They also examined how age, education, and vascular risk factors such as blood pressure might influence dementia rates.

    Their findings suggest that while the number of people with dementia may be rising due to the aging population, the risk of dementia may have been decreasing in high-income communities such as Framingham. They found:

    • There was a progressive decline in dementia incidence, at any given age, with an average reduction of 20 percent per decade since the 1970s.
    • The amount of education appeared to play a significant role in dementia risk. Among volunteers with at least a high school diploma, dementia incidence declined by 22 percent by the 1980s, 38 percent the 1990s, and 44 percent by the 2000s when compared to the first decade. They also noted that more study participants graduated from high school as the study progressed.
    • A parallel trend in improved cardiovascular health (with the exception of obesity and diabetes) over the decades may have influenced the decline in dementia prevalence. Again, this cardiovascular health improvement was seen only among volunteers who had graduated from high school.
    • The average age at which dementia was diagnosed rose from age 80 in the 1970s to age 85 in the 2000s.

    The researchers note that these findings suggest that higher education levels, along with treatment of vascular disease, may have helped delay the onset of dementia. They emphasized that these factors, however, did not explain all of the observed decline, and that more research is needed to fully understand the factors underlying lower incidence of dementia.

    The study was supported by the National Heart, Lung, and Blood Institute and the National Institute on Aging, both components of the NIH.

    Reference: Satizabel CL, et al. Incidence of dementia over three decades in the Framingham Heart Study. New England Journal of Medicine. Published online Feb. 10, 2016.

  • February 1, 2016

    The UC Davis RCMAR (Latino Aging Research Resource Center) and the UC Davis Alzheimer’s Disease Center will be hosting a Cognitive Aging Conference at UC Davis on March 16.

    The goals of the conference are to present a framework for scientific research on cognitive aging in diverse populations, highlight research progress resulting from training efforts of the Alzheimer’s Disease Centers (ADC), Resource Centers for Minority Aging Research (RCMAR), and NIH Support for Scientific Conferences (R13) and promote ADC and LARRC resources for the scholar and pilot programs.

    Dr. Carl V. Hill, will be giving an update on Diversity and Health Disparities Research. The morning session will also provide an overview and guiding principles on cognitive aging research and includes notedresearchers from UC Davis, UC San Francisco and Kaiser. The early afternoon session will highlight the important contributions to the field of research from RCMAR scholars and R13 trainees. The conference will end with a panel discussion, moderated by Dan Mungas, PhD, UC Davis with panelists discussing critical issues for the future of cognitive aging research.

  • January 25, 2016

    Emerging researchers, including those with limited involvement in research on aging, are invited to apply for the next Butler-Williams Scholars Program, to be held July 25-29, 2016, at the National Institutes of Health campus in Bethesda, MD.

    Sponsored by NIA, the 5-day program will explore research design relative to aging, including issues relevant to racial/ethnic minorities and health disparities. The agenda will include:

    • lectures covering the biology of aging; genetics and Alzheimer’s disease; and health, behavior, and aging
    • discussion sessions focusing on methodological approaches and interventions
    • consultation on the development of research interests
    • advice on preparing and submitting research grant applications to NIA

    Applications and letters of recommendation are due by March 25, 2016.

    Learn more about the Butler-Williams Scholars Program and access the online application form.

  • January 11, 2016

    A randomized clinical trial of 100 patients found that diet and exercise—alone or combined—improved exercise capacity in obese older patients with a particular type of heart failure. The trial is the first to show that this dietary intervention was effective in improving exercise capacity and reducing symptoms in patients with heart failure with preserved ejection fraction (HFPEF). The results appeared in the January 6, 2016, issue of the Journal of the American Medical Association. The study was supported primarily by the NIA.

    HFPEF is the most rapidly increasing form of heart failure, especially in older adults. It occurs primarily in overweight and obese older women and is associated with high rates of morbidity, mortality, and health care expenditures. Exercise intolerance—fatigue and shortness of breath with exertion—in HFPEF patients was recently shown to be associated with increased body weight.

    Dr. Dalane Kitzman and colleagues at Wake Forest University School of Medicine randomized trial participants to four groups: diet alone, exercise alone, diet and exercise together, or control. After 20 weeks, people in the three intervention groups showed improved exercise tolerance, measured by peak exercise oxygen consumption. The diet and exercise groups both showed improvement; however, the combination group had almost twice the improvement in oxygen consumption. In addition to improving exercise capacity, diet and exercise decreased the amount of fat cells within the leg muscle, the researchers found; fat, which infiltrates leg muscle, contributes to reduced exercise capacity in heart failure.

    This is the first randomized controlled trial of calorie restriction in this patient population. While the researchers noted that follow-up studies are needed to investigate the loss of muscle mass associated with weight loss, this research supports a treatment for heart failure that relies on diet and exercise, unlike previous treatments which focused on regulating heart function through medication.

    Reference: “Effect of Caloric Restriction or Aerobic Exercise Training on Peak Oxygen Consumption and Quality of Life in Obese Older Patients with Heart Failure with Preserved Ejection Fraction: A Randomized Clinical Trial” by Dalane W. Kitzman, et al. JAMA. 2016,315(1)36-46. doi: 10.1001.jama2015.17346.

     

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